Jury Charge from 1913 – Andrew’s site

The  jury charge reproduced on Andrew’s site was used in a contest in 1913 and dictated at 240 wpm.
“gentlemen of the jury” is rendered by JENT(blend)-J
“the plaintiff” is rendered by OVER TH-P
“from the defendant company” is rendered by F-M-OVER TH-D followed by disjoined K
“a car of the defendant” is rendered by A(dot) CR D
“damages”is rendered by D-S
What this means is that even though 240 words may have been spoken during a minute, significantly fewer than 240 were written down.
It also means that an extreme degree of abbreviation was necessary for the high speed court reporting of that time.
I have been falsely assuming that I should just practice “what I am doing except faster”.  In reality, unless the above-cited degree and kind of abbreviation is sought and achieved, high speed is never going to result.
It also seems to mean that the Pitman writers accused of lying were not guilty after all.  In their reporting venue where specialized, conventional abbreviations were used, they did in fact capture material dictated at 280 wpm, and/or they never actually wrote down that many words to begin with.  When tested with material outside their work venue, they got 165 wpm which sounds like a lie compared to 280, but then nobody, including Gregg writers, ever actually wrote down that many words in the first place.
Things can apparently be very misleading.

(by ukulele144
for everyone)


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14 comments Add yours
  1.   Hi,   I think you're right in a sense.  I'm not sure about your point of less than 240 words being written down – surely the point of shorthand is to write short using abbreviated letters, words, and phrases?    I know the oft quoted shorthand speed being nine-tenths above the cuff, and one tenth below it, but I'm not sure how true that is for high speed shorthand.    There has to come a point where the word-to-outline thought process is so automatic that it's the time it takes to write the outline legibly that matters, and therefore the brevity of the mark that you make on paper that's the deciding factor.    After all, handwriting is pretty automatic, you don't think about how to spell a word and how to form the letters (by and large), but we can't write longhand any faster than 40 or 50 words a minute at the outside.   With testimony, extreme abbreviation and phrases can be used with impunity, because the same phrases occur with great frequency, and the vocabulary used is more limited and more easily anticipated.   With literary material, the vocabulary is much wider, so the scope for using short cuts is much more limited.  This makes it slower to write.   This is recognised in the US court reporter RPR qualification, where Testmony has to be passed at 225 words a minute, but literary material only at 180.   Does any of that make any sense?!   Ian

  2. Andrew … Thanks for beating me to the punch in your response. It seemed odd to me (and I don't mean to denigrate anyone's view) that anyone familiar with Gregg and shortcuts would critique those type of phrases which, considering the language of the courtroom, make perfectly valid sense.

    Further, would the proof of the Pitman vs. Gregg speed contests be not what was actually written but rather how accurately the notes were transcribed?

    Of course a few months ago those very abbreviated phrases might have thrown me for a loop before I started to study the "expert" and "reporter" shortcuts. The "Expert Shorthand Speed Building has a wealth of such phrasing. And, believe it or not, in context these shortcuts are very easy to remember – both for reading and writing.

  3. One thing about courtroom work is that it lends itself to phrasing quite well.  There are certain word patterns that are used over and over again.  I was a courtroom clerk for a few years — and may of the phrases I see in the Gregg Reporting Shortcuts were phrases that I would hear in testimony and argument.  The dropping of unessential words in a phrase, or the changing of a form for the phrase is something that is introduced in the very early theory of Gregg Shorthand.  The phrasing of the courtroom is just the ultimate extension of those principles.    It's the practice of the principle in Gregg that given your specialized area of work, you will be able to abbreviate things that are very familiar or often repeated in your work.    Some of the court reporting phrases are pretty damn cool.  🙂

  4. Thanks, everyone, for interesting feedback. I think the abbreviations used by the court reporters are quite clever and very handy.   Where I'm coming from is that I've used Gregg for years, have been comfortable at around 100-120 wpm, and I mistakenly assumed that I'd have to learn how to write twice as fast to be a court reporter: "He/she gets 120 words per minute, but a court reporter has to write 225 words per minute," something like that.   I now realize that what SHOULD be said is: "If you can write 120 words per minute, then you will be able to double that by writing half as much in the same length of time, i.e. you can add the Anniversary brief forms and word endings and beginnings to your repertoire which will cut down on  how much you have to write out, then, you can learn to abbreviate even further as the court reporters do, and cut down how much  you have to write even more."   Do you see what I mean?  I thought the champions wrote twice as fast as I do but instead they just wrote half as much as I do.   Or, 120 wpm is all anyone ever wrote or practically can write, and that is only increased by decreasing what you write.   Brief forms are used right at the start in Simplified, DJ or Series 90 – you write L instead of "well" or "will" and you write R instead of "or", "our" or "are."   How do you suppose you could determine how fast "pure" Gregg is – i.e. just the alphabet that appeared in 1888 in LIGHT LINE PHONOGRAPHY?  It would be interesting to know – sort of a bottomline benchmark. When I first learned just the Gregg alphabet alone – no abbreviations- it felt like it was at least twice as fast as my ordinary handwriting, but that's just a guess. Anyway, THAT would be the pure speed test for writing Gregg, and anything after that would be "how to abbreviate and cut down how much you have to write."

  5. UKULELE wrote: "If you can write 120 words per minute, then you will be able to double that by writing half as much in the same length of time, i.e. you can add the Anniversary brief forms and word endings and beginnings to your repertoire which will cut down on how much you have to write out, then, you can learn to abbreviate even further as the court reporters do, and cut down how much you have to write even more."

    Great analysis, kid! Of course it helps if you can increase your speed a little bit as well. The keynote for that type of verbatim reporting is familiarity with your shortcuts. Pause, and your a 'lause' cause! LOL.

  6. The ability to write shorthand at very high speeds happens when it becomes an automatic skill.  By making as much of the general vocabulary and word building second nature, it frees your mind up to handle the words that may not be as familiar to you.  Unfortunately, it takes a great deal of repetition practice and a great deal of the right kind of dictation.  It's not necessarily *writing* twice as fast, it is more a question of rapid recall and application.    Even when Dr. Gregg did his early pamphlets, he also had a set for those who were continuing on to verbatim reporting.  The brief forms in the early edition are fairly sparse. 

  7. Remember that the phrases you see there were more than likely not developed off the cuff, and like most phrases, can mean only one thing. They are all specific briefs and phrases one learns in a reporting curriculum, since they are phrases heard so much in the court. "Jnt-j" is always "Gentlemen of the Jury" (which now is outdated, but "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury" can be abbreviated "l-a-jnt-j"). Because "plaintiff" is almost always uttered with the definite article, "th-p" creates a very recognizable outline, just like "the said plaintiff" does. "From the defendant company" is a common phrase, not invented on the fly, but learned like any other phrase.

    These abbreviations are only so heavy because the speech has to be taken down so quickly, and also because the words that are constantly used are almost invariably the same. It would just be foolishness to always write a four-or-five-word phrase in four or five strokes, when it occurs in one's reporting field over and over again.

    Remember that that judge's charge is an example of pretty much the most abbreviated form of Gregg Shorthand. Since "d" is either "would" or "defendant", "a car of the defendant" is almost invariably written "h k-r d" with k-r and d closer together than normally. That is a principle last seen in the 1916 version, where "of the" is expressed by putting the outlines closer together.

    The basic idea is that if you have a brief or phrase, and you know what it means without question, use it. 🙂


  8. Hi Ukelele et al.   I have got a book about Marti's shorthand (Entrerríos' version), he states: The main purpose of shorthand is to record in writing a spoken message. We use different techniques for fulfilling this goal:   1. Change alphabet characters for easier strokes 2. Suppression of vowels 3. Suppression of consonants 4. Short forms 5. Phrases 6. Arbitrary strokes   Consider this, what do you think about it?   VALO      

  9. More good comments and insights; thanks, everyone.   There is no question that a main focus of my practicing right now is conquering the horror of having to stop and think.  I just use newspaper articles, a handy novel I've been reading – anything to stretch vocabulary exposure. The forms I don't have to stop and think about almost get ahead of my own mind – almost feels like my hand wants to go on and write yet paying attention to what's happening inhibits it.  A lot like that phenomenon in typing class where you'd find yourself daydreaming while typing away unconsciously, but once you caught yourself doing it, it went away.   Anyway,  I've set myself the ideal that if I ever do find myself sitting and taking a deposition, it's going to be completely comfortable and relaxed or forget it!   I'm not familiar with Marti's shorthand, but those same issues and devices have obviously been the staple of all shorthand systems since ancient times. On the one hand, Gregg characters flow so smoothly it's hard to imagine anything better, but, go figure, because I just recently heard from a reliable source of a Speedwriting student who got 200 wpm, and a Teeline writer who was a court reporter in Britain, neither of which things is supposed to be possible.

  10. Ukulele,
    If you're learning Simplified after you get through the Manual, I earnestly recommend for vocabulary building and practice, you purchase Gregg Dictation Simplified – both the book and either the student's key or the teacher's handbook which are available from Amazon resellers at very reasonable prices. Or Gregg Speed Building for Colleges Simplified, available from the same sources which provides extensive and intensive theory review and much new reading and dictation material.
    As you've probably gathered from all the posts, you'll most likely attain maximum speed from Anniversary or Pre-Anniversary, but Simplified works just fine if you've applied yourself and can automatically create outlines just from hearing the words spoken. Even the expert writers from the '20's, '30's and '40's wrote the advice that shortcuts are useless if only half remembered.
    How'd you acquire your name? Were you an Arthur Godfrey fan?

  11. Ukulele, have you read the article by Charles Lee Swem on a systematic speed course?  We have it posted on the Documents section.   http://www.msnusers.com/GreggShorthand/Documents/Learning%20Aids/systematic-speed-course.pdf   It gives you a way to go from stenographer speed to reporting speed.   Also, that's why additional books like the "Expert Shortand" series, the "Intensive Studies in Shorthand Vocabulary", and "Gregg Reporting Course" were written for students aspiring to become pen reporters.  The training needs of a stenographer are much less than if you want to become a proficient and good reporter.

  12. Thanks, Chuck, for the convenient link to Swem's article.  I've had a problem with some of the Documents which seem to be using MS Home Office or some such.  Wonder what that is?   And, JRG, I have DICTATION SIMPLIFIED  and ADVANCED DICTATION SIMPLIFIED which I found at the Salvation Army 12 years ago.  I've read them off and on, but not as systematically as I should.   Also, I used to see Arthur Godfrey years ago, not being any spring chicken, obviously, but I just picked up the ukulele because I didn't have a piano anymore.  I found that it had been played as a full range solo instrument, not just to strum and accompany singing, so that's what I do now.  Once I looked, I found lots of such stuff being done by solo performers, largely through Jim Beloff's Flea Market Music – both publications and CDs, and a website. If I can do more with Gregg, I guess you can say I'm harking back to the 1920's. Then or maybe a few years before, Billy Rose got to be Bernard Baruch's personal secretary by getting really good at shorthand, probably Pitman.   I'm still hoping, but right now, the writing without stopping to think ideal is running up against the pesky mental block of causing yourself to stop and think BECAUSE of trying not to stop and think! Yikes!

  13. Let me interject something I remember reading about WRITING speed.

    The Klein (Kline?) studies filmed students writing 140 and court reporters do 225 (200?) and made a number of comparisons. The main finding was that both 140 writers and 225 writers had pen to paper for the same amount of time; in other words, they both WROTE outlines at the same speed. The different, however, was in the pauses between outlines. The slower writers took longer to get their mental machinery to supply the outline than the higher-speed writers. Consequently, the study decided, to write faster, you need to get your brain to send the outline to the hand faster; it is not a question of moving your hand/fingers at a higher rate.


  14. Glad y'all mentioned both the films of shorthand writers and the keypad thing.   I saw that about filming somewhere before and couldn't remember where.   As for the keypad, I was always amazed at clerks at the courthouse, say, the tax collector's office, whose hand would fly over the adding machine keyboard and they wouldn't even be looking.  They'd turn through a stack of papers with the left hand, reading off the data from them, and hit all the keys with the other hand. Too, it would be those large adding machines with hundreds of keys.

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