Happily Conflicted?

The serendipity part:  today a friend dropped by and handed me a book she’d found on the giveaway table at the public library, where people put old books they don’t want. It was a copy in very good condition of GREGG SPEED BUILDING:COLLEGE EDITION by JRG himself, shorthand by Zoubek, the 1941 edition, i.e. the fourth, having first come out in 1932. Many of you know that you can hardly find a better all-in-one-package way to really get into Anniversary.
HOWEVER, I had also wandered into the Anything Goes section of this group where I found a fascinating post by Sidhetaba in a thread called “Speeds”.  He found some really good stuff on the Phoenix website, which, though titularly about machine shorthand, throws a lot of light on any kind of shorthand. The issue was the use of brief forms, and the point was that they can be a real encumbrance rather than a help. The writer explained that one could memorize far more of them than could easily be used on the fly, and that being able to just listen and write what one hears is far better in the long run unless the brief forms are thoroughly automatized.
The best part, though, was a quote from a veteran stenographer who was very skilled and comfortable and said “The longer I write, the longer I write,” meaning that he reached the point of writing everything out in full. He also gave a virtual command that you should “ALWAYS” start after the speaker, and this echoes Swem referring to often being 20 words behind the speaker. This, of course, calls on a very good short term memory, not only to recall the last 20 words spoken but also to hear and remember the next 20 while writing the FIRST 20!
So do you see what I mean about being conflicted?  I had just gotten a big boost as I described in the Jury Charge 1913 thread about the wonderful way the expert reporters used omissions and abbreviations to achieve their speed, then I get this great Anniversary textbook with all manner of such speedy devices, but then I find this other stuff which harks back to an interchange with JRG Anniversary about  just writing Gregg freely, cultivating the hear-and-write approach.
The point of the Phoenix speed tips is incontrovertible so far as it goes: far better to be ready and able to write anything that comes up than to tax oneself memorizing briefs that may never come up enough to get automatic, or that work okay when you’re studying them out of context but don’t readily come to mind when they pop up in a real work situation.

(by jayepea1 for everyone)

48 comments Add yours
  1. The comment:  "The longer I write shorthand, the LONGER I write shorthand" is a bit decieving.  This man was a practicing court reporter and could write at very fast speeds.  The theory this man wrote is VERY abbreviated.  I have a copy of the "Gregg Shorthand Reporting Course" and based on the work you do reviewing the theory (they have you go through the manual SEVERAL times), they stress penmanship drills and much practice, they also use "Gregg Reporting Shortcuts" for practice of very advanced phrasing principles.  After a certain point in the book, I am unable to read some of the shorthand.  Although they are advanced, the principles are generally in harmony with the basic theory of Gregg Shorthand.  There happens to be a lot more modification of word forms (in phrases, "company" is represented by "k").  His statement is not necessarily an endorsement of doing away with much of the memory load of brief forms, etc.  Brief forms represent much of the general, running vocabulary.    Yes, you should be able to construct an outline for an unfamiliar word based on the principles of the system, but it is necessary that you use briefs, phrases, and shortcuts — but they need to be learned COMPLETELY.  They must be automatic.  If you were to review his notes, I would imagine you would find a large number of the reporting briefs and phrases — he did not come to the point that he wrote EVERYTHING out.    What the writing is trying to enforce is that you must know your system completely and have brief forms at your fingertips without having to think of them.  They must be an automatic response.   "The word carrying faculty" is another skill entirely.  Unfortunately, I'm unable to carry more than a sentence in my head during the dictation.  I have always had to keep right up on the heels of the dictator.  It is a skill that needs nearly as much practice as shorthand theory.  It's a skill I wish I had.  🙂

  2. Glad to get your input, Anniversary Fan, and that was certainly my impression from studying such things as the 1913 Jury Charge. Right from the start, Simplified uses numerous brief forms that I use without even thinking about it, even when I'm writing other things out in full.   This may be silly, but one thing I've practiced some is writing down the first letter of each word of the speaker thinking that when that gets faster, I'll have time  to add a second and third letter.  The single first letter is sort of the ultimate in abbreviation, waiting to be extended, and this technique is used by some people who are doing verbatim memorizing.    Another thing I've tried is imitating Voice Writing by repeating what a speaker on the radio says, starting after the first sentence, listening while repeating.  It gets fairly easy, but of course it would be harder to write it out than just verbally repeat it.

  3. I suppose every stenographer has their own method of writing while under the rigors of speed.  I caution you against repeating what you hear and then writing.  That is impeding your speed gain by light years.  It's like reading while moving your lips.  It slows you down.    As for writing the first letter of the word and hoping you can later work from that is risky.  Especially the vocabulary is unusual for you.  It's a better idea to write the first few sounds or syllables.  I don't know what your current speed is — but for my own part, I had decent speed when I graduated high school (120).  In college I got up to 140.  At that time I was using shorthand every day.  I was working in court and recording the minutes.  I wasn't the court reporter — I just took certain parts of the hearing verbatim (findings of the court, motions by counsel, avowals, stipulations, the judge's rulings from the bench).  I took minutes like meeting minutes.  I also tended the exhibits (which the reporters do in a number of jurisdictions).    The woman who was my primary trainer was an exceptional stenorapher.  When my notes had been blown to bits, her notes were as readable as a text book.  Late one night, at the conclusion of a very long hearing on some sort of preliminary injunction, the judge ruled from the bench.  The next day, when transcribing the hearing, she came across an abbreviation she had used for a phrase "ii" — and not for love nor money could she interpret what those two letters were.  Even though it was clear to her at the time of the taking, once the notes got cold, she couldn't recall.  Upon checking with the reporter at the hearing, it turns out that the phrase was "irreparable injury."   I wish I had managed to keep finding jobs that utlized my shorthand.  Although I am a legal secretary, I use shorthand very rarely for the purpose it was intended.  All of my writing now is done in practice session and not on the job.  Needless to say, my speed has declined.  With my renewed practice, I'm finding that I'm starting to get my groove back.    Reading lots of well written shorthand cannot be overstressed.  Your writing speed can be tied to your reading speed.  Usually, you can write at half your reading speed (or thereabouts — it's not an exact calculation).  If your reading is somewhat slow or not fluid, your writing will be likely a reflection of your reading.  You can never read too much.  One thing that I do and find helpful is to trace what I'm reading either in the air or on the tabletop.  I find that there are times when I can read the outline just fine, but I find myself having a bit of trouble executing the shorthand outline smoothly.    Keep up the good work.  Shorthand is a great skill.  It is worth doing and it is worth doing well.  🙂   Peter

  4. I found this today by accident, and it bears upon my first post which started this thread; it is still somewhat perplexing to me:   Kathy Dittmeier – 08/13/98

    Briefs require memorization, plus drilling to create an automatic response when you hear that word/phrase. Doing these things while trying to gain speed can be an added burden, especially if you're trying to incorporate many briefs at once or ones that don't make any sense to you.

    You can ALWAYS write a word out. No one says you *have* to use briefs. And contrary to popular belief, it's not the number of strokes that slows you down, but how much you hesitate and have to *think* that slows you down. Many of the speed champs are known for "writing things out."

    If your briefs are causing you to hesitate, then they're standing between you and your speed goal! You can always pick up briefs later, when you feel you really need them. And when you pick up a brief because you need it, it's easier to remember it and develop the muscle memory needed to execute it properly.

    Concentrate on making sure you know how to write all the sounds of the language and you'll be able to write any word you encounter. Add those briefs only when you feel you really need them. And then, make sure you're not adding the brief because a sound trips you up. If that's the case, you need to drill on writing that sound so similar words won't trip you up later. For instance, I used to brief "simultaneous" because I always fumbled my way through it trying to write it out. I figured it was "just one of those words" for me. But guess what happened when I heard erroneous, nauseous and miscellaneous? Same problem. I didn't need a brief, I needed drill work over writing those sounds.

  5. This is just another article restating the importance of knowing theory well before attempting to improve speed. Brief forms and phrases have to be written without hesitation and automatically, before attempting to increase speed. Faulty theory causes hesitation.

  6. Hi Chuck – The question may be, at least to me, : what exactly is meant by "theory"? It makes sense that the word beginnings and endings, joined or disjoined, could be called a matter of theory – "how to write words like that" which I guess is why they are called "analogical word endings", etc. Also, the Abbreviating Principle is theory because "principle" is a synonym for "theory".   But the catch to me is that the slight difference between similar words can be a real pitfall, e.g. "miscellaneous" and "erroneous" differ greatly on the front end, and I don't think a principle will help.  It always ends up seeming to me that unless I have practiced and automatized each exact word, I will have to stop and think and ruin myself speedwise.   Besides, how does one explain what she says, which was also stated in the other source that I referred to in the first post of this thread – that proficient reporters write everything out? And I'm not sure that in this case it has much to do with the difference between pen writing and stenotypy.  It is really hard for a stenotypist to ever get 225 wpm as it also is for Gregg writers, so I don't believe it is any inherent speed in stenotype that allows writing things out in full.   I realize that this is a contradictory issue, but I don't want to be blamed for just making it  that way to be contrary personally; I think there is a real dilemma that I'm not making up.   When I'm practicing, it makes a huge difference to me whether I see myself just writing out things in Gregg rather than Roman letters, sounding words out, or whether I'm trying to remember and use abbreviations. For one thing, alphabetic systems rely almost entirely on abbreviation, and that is why I think we hear of a Speedwriting student getting 200 wpm. But Gregg and Pitman started out to be just a much more fluid and thus faster way to write.  Wouldn't it be great to just rest on that? Within an hour or two of first learning the Gregg alphabet years ago, I started writing out familiar words, and I was amazed and delighted at how fluid and fast it was compared to standard handwriting.     If it COULD work to simply hear and write, I would much rather learn to do that before anything else.   Put it this way: She says "Many of the speed champs are known for "writing things out", so is there some way to find out whether this can apply to Gregg as well as stenotypy? What the Heck! We may as well quit all this old antique romanticism with pen writing and go out and buy a machine! I do not like that; guess I'm just a Luddite!  

  7. The slight difference between words as you call it, may be a real pitfall, only if you don't practice. To me, "miscellaneous" and "erroneous" are two completely different words that are written differently: one with the abbreviating principle (miscellaneous) and another that is written in full. But again, that in my opinion, is theory! There should not be any hesitation in writing those two words, no matter which version of shorthand you write.

    "Write everything out" in my opinion does not mean that proficient reporters spell out every word: doing that would be silly and defeat the purpose of shorthand or stenotypy. Proficient reporters (whether pen or type) can retain more words in their brains (carrying ability). Because of that, they can afford to spell some words out that would be abbreviated according to theory.

  8. Oh, I agree, Chuck, with everything you say.  I'm just puzzled about these two seemingly conflicting reports!  I thought up until I found this stuff that stenotypists always used plenty of briefs just like everyone else,  Gregg, Pitman, no matter, and I agree that it is silly to write out anything needlessly. Are those stenotypists who write everything out just trying to show off?! Or is it a myth that they do so?   I will say, though I know it's no big deal necessarily, that just what you say about "miscellaneous" compared to "erroneous" could be a good example of how briefs can be confusing unless they're learned thoroughly – i.e. one rule for one and another rule for the other. In such cases I would prefer if possible not to have any rule at all to remember – just write everything out.  BUT then, that's the original puzzle to which I want an answer – can that be done or not? I've talked to perfectly proficient stenotypists, and they sound just like Gregg writers – that it's plain doggone hard to achieve speed – lots of practice, plenty of abbreviations, several years to get up to reporting speed – so where in the Heck did this stuff come from about writing stuff out do you suppose?! Inquiring minds want to know!    

  9. Thanx, Andrew – a real good look inside the "stenotype world".   So, then, do you know if those celebrated "write-everything-out" reporters really exist? How is it possible to be that fast without briefs?   We certainly know that the Gregg champions like Swem used a great deal of judicious (and judicial!) abbreviation, and I love that you said that Gregg "is still just as fast as the fastest machine writers".   To get away from so much emphasis on stenotypy, I would also say that the famous Gurney system which dominated British court and parliamentary reporting for 200 years is, nevertheless, a very cumbersome system which technically should not be capable of the requisite speed.  It was very much like the modern Teeline system in concept, and Teeline is openly admitted not to be capable of more than 140 wpm. BUT, once again, there are court reporters who use Teeline, so what gives? I also mentioned in a previous post the Speedwriting whiz who got 200 wpm, and THAT is not supposed to be possible.

  10. Sure. Machine shorthand writers use a few more brief forms than Greggists do. In Kathy's theory, Phoenix (mine as well), there are well over three thousand brief forms to memorize perfectly at your discretion. Phoenix Theory uses several unique and amazing writing principles which make writing words out significantly easier than the way in which they are written in other theories (as a result of these writing principles, several old briefs had to be modified or removed). It is entirely phonetic when it comes to "writing out." In stark contrast is the newest theory, Stenomaster, which still uses the old theory to write words out by spelling, but uses significantly more briefs than pretty much any other theory, and is still spelling-dependent more than phonetic. As a general rule, Stenomaster writers have sometimes deep hatred for Phoenix writers. Both theories are real-time, and I believe equally valid in different ways. Phoenix is much more systematic, and Stenomaster is almost entirely memorization. However, Stenomaster writers use generally fewer strokes than Phoenix writers. Stenomaster writers call Phoenix "stroke-intensive," while Phoenix writers call Stenomaster "key-intensive" and "spelling-dependent." I have read through both theories extensively and still come out enjoying phoenix more for its phonetic nature, for its regularity, and for its ease of mastering. You can invent as many briefs as you like, too, checking for conflicts against the translation dictionary, and actually have as many strokes as Stenomaster, in general, while retaining the Phoenix principles.

    This is an extremely heated issue among machine reporters. People treat their theories like religions.

    But this debate is not meant to be fought, really. Very few can weigh their opinions accurately, since they only study one theory and develop faulty assumptions of the other one.

    Despite all the money and technology it takes to master and use a machine theory, it is still just two dollars or so to use Gregg Shorthand (the price of a pen and paper). And it is still just as fast as the fastest machine writers! 😀 (Transcription is the machine's advantage, though).

    Viva Gregg! 🙂


  11. You would be hard pressed to find a stenographer who doesn't use briefs and phrases. Though it is technically possible to write at 200 WPM without using them at all (in stenotype), I strongly recommend the tasteful use of briefs. "Technically" any shorthand system is capable of reporting speed, if the more cumbersome systems are just modified to go at that speed. You can augment anything. A shorthand system is never perfect. 🙂

    Plus, stenotypy is fundamentally different from written shorthand in that an extra stroke doesn't take quite as much time as it takes to write a huge outline in shorthand. The stenographer loses no speed taking three strokes to type "stenographer" (STUN/AUG/R-FR) instead of memorizing a brief for it, especially, since it takes extra long to say the word anyway. 🙂 Again, though, Phoenix is still filled with writing options that allows you to write any word you want in a single stroke if you just add the brief to the dictionary.

    Tangents. Well, anyway, "write-everything-out" reporters are almost nonexistent. That is because even the reporters who abbreviate almost nothing still at some point use briefs. While working in an environment that uses the same terminology repeatedly, it becomes no hassle to make briefs for the common phrases and words.


  12. How long have you been writing, Ukulele?  Getting up to proficient speed takes much practice and a great deal of investment.  I took two years in high school and two more semesters in college and got to a speed of 140 wpm.  I practiced ALL the time.  Part of my issue was changing theory while working on speed building.    As I have said before, the statement by the reporter that "the longer I write shorthand, the longer I write shorthand" didn't translate to "I dropped all my brief forms and phrases and write every word out."  Your brief forms and elementary phrases should be learned until they are automatic.  Concurrently, you need to learn to apply the word building principles for words that you get that are not part of your automatic vocabulary.  It takes lots of dictation and reading to help make these things automatic.    As for "miscellaneous" and "erroneous" — in later editions, they got written out:  m-s-e-l-a-n-u-s/e-r-o-n-u-s (and use the same principle).  In Anniversary, miscellanous was written using the abbreviating principle and erroneous is written out.  There will always be slight inconsistencies.  You will also have outlines for different words written with the same outline – context will tell you which one to use.  I happen to use the same shortcut for "conversation" and "compensation" (com-left s-a-tion).   What really brings the speed is the reduction of hesitation in writing what you hear.  Sometimes, the shortest outline is harder to get out than some of the longer words.  Repetition practice is the best way to automate the briefs and phrases.   There are times, when I'm running behind the dictator by a significant amount where I find I'm writing by sound — and I write out something that I have learned a brief form for or I've written out all the words when there's a really nifty phrase.  If you got it down and you can read it later, it doesn't matter if you wrote it out, used a brief form, or had a really cool phrase.    It's also better to practice connected matter rather than just practicing lines and lines of lists.  The difficulty I find now is being able to draft someone to dictate to me.  I would imagine many of us suffer from this same issue.    Peter

  13. Kathy Dittmeier may be wrong, but she did not say that writing things out was some freakish phenomenon to be marevelled at and ignored; she said that "many" champion writers do it , and she even RECOMMENDS it as an alternative to having your practicing SLOWED DOWN by trying to learn a lot of briefs. Since this is  not a Chat Room, please don't anyone take my capitalization for "shouting"; it's just for emphasis because I'm not sure how to underline!   Also, the abbreviations used by the the court reporters, e.g. the 1913 Jury Charge I cited in another post, were not Anniversary or any other version of Gregg but rather an abbreviation technique owned by none of them.   Thanx, Andrew, for a good survey of stenotypy that I would never have found in such a succinct form on my own.   And, Peter, you have WAY more fortitude than I do. If I had had two years in high school and another year in college and still only got 140 wpm, I would have said to Heck with it! I've known Simplified for 40 years, used it off and on personally during that time, but only recently set out to find out what is required to get high speed. I feel that I am running into contradictory advice and theory on the subject.  That is why I keep citing cases where Speedwriting or Teeline or Gurney writers got high speeds, because all the claims made for versions of Gregg, or for Stenotypy, etc.are contradicted by those cases.   Conversely, people apparently get what they are told to expect.  No one even expects to type 130 wpm as Cortez Peters' students regularly did, and then they go out and get a Dvorak keyboard and think they've discovered a miraculous answer to that quaint old QWERTY keyboard and they STILL can't get 130 wpm.  Then I am told that Anniversary is the magic key, and, as I have cited, it is not, i.e. it does not explain what really happens.  V-Lindsay said she knows more than 70 pen writers in Mississippi alone, and they would have to be (unless they are 95 years old) graduates of Diamond Jubilee courses, and, I know that they did not go back and spend several years or more re-learning Anniversary. One that I have spoken to personally said she finished her college DJ course and "I already had the speed" she said. She then got some mentoring from a few nearby court reporters and went to work in that field herself, and she did not spend years doing this, either.   Anyway, to repeat, I am not knocking anyone's theory or practice, but just saying that I am confused by it all.   I'm not criticizing anyone for what they are doing and for the obvious good results they are getting. I am simply saying that the explanations given for the success of various people contradict each other. Therefore, I don't know how to practice unless I just flip a coin to decide who to trust, and that is too unscientific to suit me.

  14. All the advice is correct and useful, but not at the same time. Sort of like raising kids.

    Yep, frustrating.

    Many things have to work together, but usually only one or two things will hold you back at any time. You work on those things until they're good enough for the next level. At the next level, something else will hold you back.

    E.g., If you're at 20wpm and your brief forms are good enough for 30, there's no sense working on them until you can write B's at 30 as well. But when you go for 40, you'll have to work on them again.

    As for the brief form debate, I'd go with the text you have. All the examples will use it, so you'll be reading and writing them a lot.

    A good teacher would know all the hidden things that hold people back, and how to identify which ones are holding you back on a given day, then work on them.

    Unfortunately, we don't have live teachers, so we are learning two things at once: shorthand, and how to teach it.

    Best bet is to just do it. If what you're doing doesn't work, try something else, but remember that the old method got you part of the way, and may be useful again.

  15. I think one thing that may happen to a lot of people is that if the original way they are introduced to and try something doesn't work, they will just drop it and decide it's not their cup of tea, where if they had been introduced in another way it may have worked out. Barbara Blackburn is famous for failing typing in high school and then finding the Dvorak keyboard later and going on to become a champion typist. Others found the usual keyboard comfortable and became champions with it.   With all the systems of shorthand there have been, all the versions of each one, I can imagine any one of them might easily have turned someone off and another might not have done. That's why I keep exclaiming about the great success people have had with what appear to be quite contradictory systems according to theory. For that matter, that's what attracted my attention to this aspect of stenotype – I thought it was just one thing, read confusing reports, and now, with Andrew's fuller explanation I realize that even THEY have conflicting "schools of thought"  and each side is convinced that the other is doomed to failure even as they obviously do succeed.   In Gurney's 1835 book, he says: "The practice of placing a character above or below the line; and also varying it, by thickness or length, I totally expunge; as it could never be written swiftly, with any tolerable degree of precision."  He reduced the original 436 briefs of Mason's system to only 100, and, as I said in the earlier post, the Gurney System dominated British Parliamentary and court stenography for 200 years. Obviously, Pittman and then Gregg went on to prove Gurney quite wrong, Pittman using both character thickness and placement, and Gregg, only length.

  16. I'm old enough to have had a few shorthand teachers.  I was very driven.  And I also paid attention.  I've hit those dreaded plateaus.  The advice I've been giving has been what I've found in my own experience to have worked.  And in our defense, machine shorthand utilizes somewhat different principles.  I at one point was going to go to reporting school so I took up machine shorthand.  I hit 120 in much less time than it took me to do it with a pen.  But getting it with a pen is an achievement and gave me great personal satisfaction.  These days, if you are studying shorthand, you are doing it for the love of the art.    The advice given in the older books is very wise.  There's no magic bullet.  It takes practice.  Lots of it. 

  17. I'm not disagreeing in any sense with any of the things you are saying AnniversaryFan; I am only trying to define what it is exactly that we are practicing.   After the train of thought which came out in the 1913 Jury Charge thread, here is what I would have said:   When you first learn Gregg you are mostly learning to just write things you hear, only using a different and more fluid alphabet. There are a few briefs, but mostly just writing things as they sound.  Most students can write up to 120 wpm this way, and I believe this, plus or minus, is a natural plateau. However, we hear of more advanced writers who supposedly can write up to 250 or more wpm; I believe this is a false idea based on a misconception: no one ever writes out that many words, but instead they always write the same 120 wpm. They may hear 250 words being spoken during a minute's time, but they abbreviate extensively, even judicously omit many words, but the ink actually on the paper will be the equivalent of 120 or so words. It could even be theorized that this natural plateau is due to normal human speech on the average being somewhere around 120-150 wpm, and, again, that is close to what proficient students predictably get. Peter speaks of getting 140 wpm after two years of Gregg in high school and one more year in college.   To me, at least, and perhaps as a very pesky, picky person for which I apologize, it seems very important that we do NOT say: "I can write only 140 wpm, but Swem and the other champions wrote 250 wpm; wow! I wish I was that fast!" That's exactly what happened to me, and I felt overwhelmed, actually hopeless. I wish someone had told me years ago that I was mistaken, that Swem and the others abbreviated to an astounding degree, even beyond what is found in Anniversary.   Now that I've bored everyone repeating all this, I am saying that when I found that stuff about the stenotypists who supposedly write everything out, it put a real crimp in my theory as described above.  I realize, as you say AnniversaryFan, that stenotype is different from pen writing, but as you also say, you got 120 wpm with stenotype, and, though it may have happened more quickly than it did with Gregg, it still was a far cry from 225 wpm, and I still maintain that stenotype is NOT the magic thing that too many people believe it to be.   I did believe it was magic practically, and I thought for years that it had long since blown Gregg writing out of the water for reporting purposes, and I only found out a few months ago that there are still many pen writers working as reporters. Everything on the Internet is about stenotype, and I only found out by a flukey contact with a voice writer that there were a few pen writers in my area, and, only when I found this Group did I find out that V-Lindsay knows of  70 of them!   So, then, if anyone can help, I would LOVE to know what that stuff about champion stenotypists writing everything out is all about. It is very suspicious to me, because it is exactly the same as the way I felt about Swem and the others until I came to understand what it really meant. I don't mean that Swem et al. weren't very proficient and worthy, just that they are human and did not actually write 250 wpm.   By the way, why DO some people talk that fast?! It is practically babbling!    

  18. Maybe a change in terminology. Instead of "writing" at 250wpm, "taking dictation" at 250wpm. (And doing it in a way that is legible, at least to them and those familiar with their individual systems, years later.)

    I think that high speed "takers of dictation" have many of the same roadblocks we slower ones do. If remembering brief forms is a block for someone at any speed, then they'll spell things out more often, especially for ones they rarely use. They use extra ability in one area to compensate for a lack (relatively speaking) in another. Us learners have to be careful not to let a block get in the way.

    Most of the time, I can drive quite nicely without making left turns; sure, I have to drive a bit faster to get to places on time, but it works. But every now and then I think how much easier and faster it would be if I could simply turn left, especially out in the country.

  19. The physicality of writing 120 and 220 are the same.  The difference between the two is that the response time to write the outline once your hear the word is greatly reduced.  That's the whole point of making it automatic — and it can be done.  What makes the difference is that your response time is shorter.    As an example of the training required to achieve very high speed, following is an example of the course of study per unit in the Gregg Shorthand Reporting Course:   I.  Penmanship practice:     a.  New penmanship assignment, approximately 30 pages of practice:  3 hours.     b.  Practice corrected outlines on previous Intensive Exercises returned by instructor:  15 mins.     c.  Make one complete correct copy:  15 mins.     d.  Read corrected copy:  10 mins     e.  Dictation and reading back of corrected copy several times:  1 hour 20 mins Total:  5 hours   III.  Review of shorthand principles:  2 hours   IV.  Dictation and readng back of new matter:  4 hours   V.   Transcription of a dictated test on new matter:  1 hour   VI.  Special practice on outlines written incorrectly in dictation practice or on test in previous unit:  2 hours   VII.  Study and practice of material in unit of Gregg Reporting Course, approximately:  3 hours   VII.  Special study assignments:  4 hours.   Total hours for unit:  23 1/2 hours.   Not for the faint of heart.  There are 20 units in the course.    They go on to say:   The most imporant single part of the reporter's shorthand equipment is a perfect knowledge of the principles of his shorthand system.  Therefore, a part of this course will be a thorough review of the principles of Gregg Shorthand.  The assignment for this unit will be the principles given in Chapters I and II, pages 1 to 33, of the Anniversary Edition of the Gregg Shorthand Manual.  Go through these two chapters just as though you had never studied shorthand, writing each word in shorthand at least twice, and going through the two chapters in that manner at least twice.  As you do this, practice not only to learn the outline better, but also keep in mind that you are improving your shorthand penmanship by comparing your outlines with those in the text.   A perfect knowledge of the brief forms is essential to high-speed writing, you should plan to read the chart of brief forms at least two or three times a week, reading them in a different order each time.  Time your reading of the chart, and do not be satisfied until you can read every brief form on the chart correctly in a minute and a half.   The reporting course was devised by Charles Lee Swem and John Robert Gregg.  They oughta know how to do this.

  20. Please forgive me for having to say that I think Swem and Gregg, in the syllabus you present, Anniversary, did not give the advice really needed to be a successful reporter. Here is exactly why:   In the 1913 Jury Charge:   for "a car of the defendant" the reporter wrote "dot  C-R  D", a reduction of 18 letters to only 4, which also includes leaving out 2 words entirely.   for "damages" the reporter wrote "D-S" and so on.   There is nothing in the principles of Anniversary to account for or prepare for this, which the reporter found necessary to keep up with what was being said. There is nothing in any version of Gregg to account for it. Also, even lacking the fluidity of Gregg, several other "cruder" systems of shorthand such as Gurney and Teeline can be and have been used for reporting by using exactly such extreme abbreviation as did the 1913 reporter.   Also, in court notes of Swem, Dupraw, Sklarew and Zoubek (rather than in their exhibition performances) there is no speed given nor could there be.  In court testimony where there are back-and-forth questions and answers, there is no way to know how many pauses, how much stammering, false starts, retracings, etc. there were. Also, very few people speak naturally at 250 words per minute anyway. Or, if one were prepared to abbreviate prodigiously, one might succeed as a reporter with a speed of only 120 wpm.   No amount of proficiency in writing Gregg could ever keep up with someone who abbreviates as severely as did the above-cited reporter.

  21. Hi again, Andrew and Peter – Everything you both say is perfectly valid.  My only contention is that it all exists completely outside of codified Anniversary rules and theory and is not owned by it. There is hardly a shorthand system that does not use such rules for abbreviation because it is a matter of logic and of the nature of English.   The first critics of Pittman and, even later, of Gregg, were Gurney writers who had already been working for 50 years when Pittman came out and continued to work in Parliament and the courts for 100 years after it came out; they overlapped Gregg for almost 100 years.  Since they were very successful, and since they used abbreviation concepts which also showed up in Anniversary and elsewhere, I just don't like to see potential shorthand students cowed by a particular narrowed-down area of development such as Anniversary when help, inspiration and guidance abound elsewhere as well.  I particularly don't like Simplified, Diamond Jubilee and, yes, even Series 90, being relegated to stepchild status when I know that many of their users have been practicing court reporters or the equivalent for years.   To me, even Series 90 is a marvelous display of the fluidity and usefullness of  Gregg, and is emphatically not, in my opinion, the least bit a degeneration from an earlier Golden Age.   But most important to me is that abbreviation, being a logical concept, might very well need to be developed by the individual and made his own thereby.  As you both point out, there are easily abbreviated phrases to represent commonly occurring phrases and even sentences in court but also in other venues.  Memorizing an abbreviated phrase is not as handy and natural as making up one's own based on need and experience.   In spite of preferring Gregg in the end, I've spent a good bit of time with Briefhand/Personal Shorthand, also some with Gurney, and it influences how I think about abbreviation. In Personal Shorthand, used widely for over 50 years now, one would write "Are you absolutely sure about that?" as:   r u abs sr a t?   r is a brief form for: are, or, our, return, record u is a brief for you, under, up, us abs is an opportunistic abbreviation whose meaning is inferred from context sr is readable as "sure" because one of the rules is to read "s" as "sh" when needed a is a brief for a, an, and, at, about t is a brief for that, to, too, there, thank   It works very well with even modest familiarization and is widely used. It can be typed, and there is no reason not to use just such briefs and abbreviations with Gregg if one wishes.   Anniversary is a very dense and complex area of study, and not only should no one be held back by not deciding to study it, I believe there are successful reporters who didn't have the time nor, in some cases, even know that Anniversary existed.

  22. The reporting forms do not conflict with the general principles of Gregg Shorthand.  The Anniversary Manual, as far as the Gregg Shorthand Reporting Course is concerned, is the basis upon which you build your reporting speed.  The principles of the reporting style are in concert with the basic principles of the system.    Studying a family of phrases helps you to build a consistent application of the phrasing principle.   Our "damages" example, in the Gregg Reporting Shortcuts, has 27 illustrations of the phrasing.  It goes from "action for damages" to "to recover damages".  The "didn't you" series goes on for days.  🙂    And yes, you will not find these phrasing principles in the Manual.  Unless you are going to be a verbatim reporter, you're not going to need that type of sophistication in your phrasing.  Having to learn all of that right at the beginning would be detrimental.  They are advanced principles that are tailored to those who are specializing.  These things are offered to the student and they can be adopted or not at the discretion of the writer.  You don't have to use them if you don't find them useful.  The abbreviated phrase that is presented in the text may not be to your liking, you are mandated to learn it.  If the one you make up is more natural to you, so much the better.  The ones that are presented in the texts were compiled from the experience and use of actual practicing reporters.  None of them learned Anniversary.  If you get a chance to pick up one of the 1901 manuals, do it.  It's very interesting to see the changes in the theory.  For example, the word "part" is not a brief form.  It's written out "p-reverse a-t.  In the 1916 Manual, it became the brief form we have today.    I agree with you that there are very fast writers out there who are students of DJS.  Series 90 came out in the late 70s so I'm not so sure that it would be utilized by many verbatim reporters at this time.  My trainer wrote Simplified and she was very fast.  Her notes never looked like she was writing under stress.  And she wrote just the textbook theory.    The advanced stuff doesn't need to be "owned" by any particular version.  Some of the stuff presented in the reporting course happens to be introduced in the 1901 and 1916 manual with nary a mention in the Anniversary manual.  Gregg Shorthand is a rather big tent.  If you find principles in your travels through other systems that appeal to you, by all means they can be integrated into your writing.  Much of the emphasis on writing according to the published theory was so that reporters could leave their notes with a typist and the typist would have a frame of reference for interpreting the shorthand since they weren't present for the hearing.    The discussion of reporting speed is a bit academic.  As disloyal to my kith as it may be, I wouldn't utilize a pen-writer for any deposition that I set.  We now order our depositions with real time streaming translation and video.  We expect a disk at the end of the deposition with the "dirty ASCII".  When we get the e-transcript from the reporter, the exhibits are hyperlinked in the deposition so that you can click on them and they bring up the exhibit.    Really the only difference between Anniversary and Series 90 is that about half of the theory is removed.  (This is hyperbole, not to be taken as a recitation of fact.)  Fewer word beginnings and endings, joined and disjoined.  Many less brief forms.  I would love to hear from anyone who took Series 90 and takes verbatim reporting speeds. 

  23. 1916 principles prepare the reporter to abbreviate like that. It says that if you place the outlines close to each other like that, you are indicating the phrase "of the" between the two outlines. It is unmistakable.

    In Reporting Gregg, "d" means "would," "damage" in certain phrases, and "defendant." So the context should give that word's meaning right away. It is just a matter of adding meanings to simple outlines, like "n" meaning "in," "not," and "negligent."

    Abbreviating is no big deal to Gregg. There is no need to spell out "df-nd-nd" every time because a "d" suffices due to the frequency of "defendant" in court work.

    It is not a deleterious Gregg; it is an advanced form of Gregg. 🙂


  24. I would just assume that reporting with Series 90 is possible, not probable, but even that is probably due to cultural changes.   Lordy, your description of how you handle depositions is astounding, but all that technology is certainly available, so why not use it!   I remember now something I once read that set me to thinking about the history and development of Gregg through the Annniversary period.  It was an encyclopedia article on the history of shorthand.  The author described the early days when Gregg went in person to schools in the South and Mid-West, was very personable, and how successful his system became, particularly because the schools had no shorthand courses at all. Then the author described how, naturally, Gregg underwent development and improvement, even some of that being due to suggestions submitted by teachers and other users. He said that although refinements, certain conventions and practices, etc. were "a joy" to veteran users, their accrual resulted in a body of practice that became forbidding to novices.  He seemed to think that this is why the Gregg publishers came out with versions such as "simplified" to try to regain an earlier level of comfort for learners.  I don't know that this is accurate, of course, because, as everyone who reads my posts may know by now, I credit a fanciful and unwarranted awe for stenotypy with unjustly lowering Gregg's status.    Thanx for that bit of information about your trainer using Simplified; I love direct examples like that of real life use.  My friends in high school used Simplified, and several were quite good.  That's why I scrounged up a Simplified manual a little later to study since I hadn't had the course in school. 

  25. I have a soft spot for Series 90.  It was what I first learned, and to its credit, they returned work to "r-k".  I did find that it wrote too much out and outlines were a little too long.  I adopted Anniversary because I wasn't turned off by the memory load.  I also found that the word beginnings and endings help to make writing outlines a bit easier.    The various revisions of the manual after the Anniversary Manual came about because the focus of shorthand learning had retreated from the verbatim reporter arc.  Simplification of the theory and reduction of memory load became more attractive becase the majority of students were not going to go on to verbatim reporting.  The speed demands in the business office are lower than in reporting work.    If you want to get the real skinny on Gregg and his shorthand system, see if you can get a copy of "The Story of Gregg Shorthand" written by Louis Leslie.  Dr. Gregg gives an in depth discussion of how he divised the system and gives his story of coming to the United States and nearly single-handedly introducing the US to his system.  He was also a remarkable teacher.  The shorthand written in the 1901 manual was the last to be written by Dr. Gregg himself.    As for how we order our depos, that is one area where the machine writers are superior.  It still takes two weeks to get your final transcript, but being able to get a rough ascii helps to have the testimony handy.  Now that trial is turning more and more into a multi-media extravaganza, and more and more testimony being presented by video from depositions, the transcripts are synched to the video and you can play the excerpts cleanly and edit out objections of counsel and discussion between the attorneys on the record.  Some depositions can be very contentious.  🙂 

  26. Well, Peter, all that interesting stuff you said sort or restores the original idea of this thread – "Happily Conflicted" – though now I might have to leave out the "Happily"!   What I mean is that for "hi-tech" I was just thinking about taped backups and maybe voice recognition software for Voice Writers, and maybe abbreviation expansion software for stenotypists.  Now, though, your description of the multimedia handling of reporting and depositions takes that to an even higher level, and makes me wonder why I am even bothering with Gregg any more!   As I've said, what DID set me off on this present path was, first, the discovery that there were "several" penwriters in my geographical area, and then, when I came to this Group, the revelation that V-Lindsay is not only right here in my state, but that there are over 70 practicing penwriters here too. Andrew is also nearby geographically – hard not to be superstitious and think the gods of stenography are sending me a message.!  

  27. Oops! I hit the Send button by accident – so much for my even being allowed in the same room with hi-tech equipment!   Anyway, in spite of your being very involved in "modern methods" you find it meaningful to pursue Gregg, from Series 90 all the way back to the halcyon days of Anniversary.  No question that the skill involved must be beneficial to one's general well-being – I'd even bet that more such things would prevent Alzheimer's as they seem to to with people who keep mentally active.   So to confess a somewhat mercenary motivation, I don't think I would go on that seriously with Gregg unless I thought I could end up with a marketable skill; do you think that is possible?

  28. If you can still manage to get an officialship position with the courts, transcripts aren't usually needed in the same way depositions are used in the practice of law.  It sounds as if Mississippi is a pen-writer's heaven.  🙂  There was an article about the woman in Nevada who is a penwriter and still does take depositions.  You don't have to just take depositions, you can report meetings and the like.  There are also government positions — someone has to take the proceedings of your state legislature.  If anyone is going to have the opportunity to utilize Gregg as it was meant to be used, it's you.  With Gregg writers in your state, you have lots of opportunities to ask questions and network.  Take your pad to church and take the sermon.  Some organizations want shorthand writers to record the meetings for security reasons.  Given the nature of reporting these days, we are far outnumbered by the machine writers.     

  29. Thanx – lots of good ideas about using Gregg.  This also brings up an issue I hear a lot about from employment counselors – don't sit around waiting for someone to ask you, and don't be intimidated by "Want Ads" or their absence – just pick something you want to do – a skill you have to offer – and go out and offer it.

  30. Ukele, Peter's right. Court transcripts are not usually needed in the
    way depositions are used for discovery purposes for law practice.
    However, I have produced my fair share of overnight transcripts during
    trials, including condensed versions, final copies, ASCII copies, and
    emailed copies. Depending on how big or controversial the trial is,
    sometimes lawyers work long, long hours during a trial and emailing a
    transcript copy at 11:00 p.m. wouldn't be out of the question. When I
    worked in a law office, I think the latest I stayed and worked on
    documents for a trial was 2:00 a.m.

    While visiting with a friend of mine, a fellow penwriter, about our next
    court reporters' association meeting/seminar, I asked her low long it
    had been since we looked up how many penwriters were in the
    association. She said it had been some years, and while the number at
    that time was over 120, the number had probably dropped because a good
    many of the penwriters then were looking at retirement and some of the
    penwriters then were studying the machine. So I decided this morning to
    try and look it up. The only directory I could find at home was for
    2005. There are 57 retired reporters listed in the directory and 292
    reporters listed as active. I didn't count how many out of state
    members were listed. Of the 292 active reporters, there are 104
    official machine writers; 6 federal machine writers; 151 freelance
    machine writers; 7 officials who didn't specify either pen or machine;
    24 freelance reporters who didn't specify pen or machine; 1 official
    stenomask; 1 federal penwriter; 16 freelance penwriters; and 31 official
    penwriters. These numbers are from the Mississippi Court Reporters
    Association membership directory.

    These figures do not include government positions, organizations, or

    As the years go by, we are being outnumbered by machine writers. IMHO
    that doesn't mean our work is any less accurate or inferior; that some
    do not still prefer penwriters; that we cannot participate in the newer
    technology on some level. So all that to say don't give up your

  31. That's really interesting, V-Lindsay – exact figures to give some idea of what's going on out there!   Does this mean that the pen writers sort of took it on themselves to choose and stick to Gregg in the absence of encouragement from the surrounding culture? The pen writer I spoke to (she's in Amory, MS) said she started before a state test requirement was in place, so she never had to worry about that part of it.  I believe I remember that you said you were working in a law firm for a while anyway, but that you also knew active pen writers, too, so it must have seemed natural to move into that area, i.e. it was an observable reality out there.  As I've said so often, if you just look up "court reporting" on Google or even read an encyclopedia article on the history of shorthand, you will get the distinct impression that the machine won out long ago.   By the way, the voice writer I first spoke to (Columbus, MS) who put me in touch with the pen writer, said that she was usually given a week to produce a transcript, but that lawyers were bad about saying, "Oh, incidentally, we have to be in court day after tomorrow, so …" and then she'd be up all night doing the transcript. It's also interesting – and sweet revenge for someone like me who is not thrilled with mechanization – that she said her voice recognition software doesn't recognize her voice every day, so she has to fall back on the back-up tape. She also said that the stenotype courses at Ole Miss (University of Mississippi at Oxford – Faulkner and all!) had been discontinued and that one must trek to south Alabama to study stenotype. It would be a real hoot if the stenotypists went the way of the dodo while there are still pen writers at work! I guess it would be the voice writers who put them out of business.   In this case, I must say that the whole thing gets to look kind of ridiculous. There are so many canny kids who may as well be acoustic engineers with all their computer, iPod, and YouTube experience, they could just go to court and get a perfect-as-you-please tape of everything that went on. The old days of just plopping a tape recorder down on the table and hoping for the best are long gone anyway – background noise, mumbling speakers, etc. – the sound geeks know how to filter and tweak to a fare-thee-well, and could produce a really great tape!  And, of course, Peter, there's the multimedia extravaganza that you described.

  32. Ukelele,   You make a good point about tape recorders.  The only thing that is required is an accurate transcript.  Stenotypists, voicewriters and tape recorders can all be used as tools to provide accurate transcripts.  The advantage of having a live reporter is that they are responsible for maintaining the accuracy of the record, and can ask people to speak up, stop mumbling, stop talking over each other, and so on.  A tape recorder can't do that, which is why there tends to be so many (inaudible)s and (simultaneous speakers) in transcripts produced by this method.   The advantage of Stenotype as a means of taking the record over all the others is realtime.  Voicewriting is getting there in this regard, but still has a long way to go.  Certified realtime voicewriters are a very rare breed indeed.  Even were voicewriters to 'catch up' with stenotypists' ability to write realtime, they would both still be in demand.   You're going to flame me for this, because you seem to be a little pro-pen and anti- everything else, but for depositions and court reporting, pen shorthand is no longer the best tool for the job.  It can be – and is – used effectively, but there are more efficient methods available for this type of work.   Ian 

  33. Hi Ian – I wouldn't flame you for what you said about pen writing – in fact I'm trying to learn to avoid the appearance of flaming anyone for anything even if they are stu …, oops, uh, I mean even if we do disagree.   In fact, I've felt for a long time that pen writing was at least part nostalgia over practicality, maybe just something we could "get away with" at best. Not that it can't be used very successfully, but you see what I mean.   Too, when I referred to "acoustic engineers" I meant those people on the CSI crime shows who purportedly can retrieve info from damaged cell phones, clean up background noise on intercepted phone calls, even restore data from a hard drive that suffered a bomb blast.  At least theoretically, one could filter out voices in a certain pitch range, filter out extraneous noises, echoes and reverb in a court room, etc.  An appropriate course or two in acoustics would be probably less demanding than the same courses in stenotype.   Also, now that stenotype is computerized to expand briefs and abbreviations into full text – which often screws up – there is no reason not to use an ordinary keyboard, since even the Autocorrect function of MS Word can expand any desired abbreviations into full text, let alone what specially designed software such a EZText and others can do. EasyScript is the one I've looked into, and it really works. The abbreviations are simple in theory – you write by hand or typing the first 4, 3, or 2 letters of a word along with the last 0, 1, or 2 last letters respectively.  This way an astounding number of words can be distinguished uniquely, and yet, too, the abbreviations are fairly obvious and not just a long list of arbitrary briefs to be memorized.   A little off-topic, but the crime aspect reminds me of a TV show that I could never get on my cable system – Sue Thomas FB Eye – about a real-life woman who worked for the FBI as an expert lip-reader and who could figure out what people on surveillance videotapes were saying.

  34. Two further points came to mind since I last posted:   It may not be valid to unfavorably compare one stroke in stenotype with several in qwerty.  Though it's done at once, several fingers and thumbs have to be controlled neuro-muscularly to produce one stenotype stroke, about equal to the several required in qwerty.   Almost in exact analogy to this, Gregg outlines spread and sprawl a good bit, and neuro-muscular control must be exerted along the whole path of the outlines. Handwritten roman letters may not require any more control and action than Gregg outlines do as a result. Just think how hard it is for beginners to make neat Gregg outlines and to avoid loss of direction over their length. Also, constant attention (though it later becomes automatic) must be given to placement due to this "spread and sprawl" feature. In roman handwriting, everything stays on the same line and letters don't run into other ones.  With Gregg outlines, I still find myself having to "give them a wide berth" to avoid collisions! Point is, then, that the conceptual simplicity of Gregg (or Pitman) outlines may not equate to a kinetic simplicity and practical production of them, at least not unalloyedly.

  35. Thanx, Ian – lots of interesting stuff; I just ignored the formatting strangeness – it's why I don't trust myself with HTML over plain text!   I love the idea that either a Gregg writer or a stenotypist could/can write everything out in full.  I don't have a final opinion, I just keep hearing conflicting reports and claims. The experienced Gregg writers in this Group seem to agree that abbreviation in the Anniversary style is very necessary, and the examples we have of the reporting of Swem, Dupraw, Sklarew, Zoubek, et al. seemed to rely heavily on abbreviation.   Also, if Gregg and stenotype can indeed be written out in full, then that would explain why alphabetic systems can also be used for reporting. I.e. the extra writing in Gregg would be offset by the abbreviation in alphabetic systems.   What has puzzled me all along is that Gregg and Pitman reduce the amount of writing by using greatly simplified strokes compared to handwritten longhand, and that SHOULD sufficiently speed things up for dictation purposes.  But, then, if they still have to use abbreviation, then the original purity of the concept is lost. I'd rather have it either/or if possible: EITHER write faster by abbreviating OR write faster by inventing a simpler alphabet like Gregg and Pitman.  That way, the alphabetic systems could resort to abbreviating to speed things up, and the symbolic systems can just write things out using their faster alphabet.   In either stenotype or qwerty, though, any letter, no matter how complex to write by hand, is always a single stroke, and ordinary typewriting was originally advertised as a way to write twice as fast as longhand. I always preferred typing over writing for this reason. It is a mystery to me why much faster typing has not been known and sought out all along. Peters actually got 200 wpm in a contest situation, and Barbara Blackburn did so as well (she thinks it is because she uses the Dvorak keyboard,but in my not very humble opinion, I think she is wrong; Dvorak was designed and proclaimed for speed, and its users trained accordingly; if they had gone to a Cortez Peters class they could and would have done exactly the same on qwerty).   Amazon.com has umpteen Cortez Peters books, and they are all some version of "Cortez Peters' Championship Typing Course" or some such – you won't have any trouble finding one, and they are quite inexpensive.   One last thing: if anyone else in the group is reading this wild post, too, PLEASE tell me how to find out IF Gregg writers can/do/did ever write things out in full and still be fast enough for reporting! The whole theory of what and why we practice hangs on the answer. There is an immense difference between learning hundreds of briefs and abbreviations, automatizing them, etc. on one hand and just "writing Gregg" on the other. And, this is exactly what the stenotypist said whom I quoted in an earlier thread/post: it can slow you down horribly trying to learn and automatize briefs while you COULD be spending that same time just practicing writing, period.  

  36. I'm very honoured that you would quote one of my posts, ukulele144.   I believe Charles Rader, who wrote shorthand plates for McGraw-Hill for the Simplified, DJS and maybe the first edition of S90 also believed that the longer he wrote shorthand the longer he wrote shorthand. It's in the preamble to one of my DJS texts.   But I'm not sure you could get to 200 or 225 without using a significant number of abbreviations and brief forms even with the fewer strokes to write sounds that Gregg and Pitman have.   I'm sorry, I do not believe that someone can write Speedwriting or Forkner at 200 or 225 wpm.   Does anyone know if there have ever been Speedwriting or Forkner court reporters?   sidhetaba

  37. Oh, and —   Just to answer your last paragraph, ukulele144:   "… tell me how to find out IF Gregg writers can/do/did ever write things out in full and still be fast enough for reporting!"   I think it's very unlikely. There are about 100 words that make up 60 percent of the English language (or something like that). And then the next 10 percent is the next 200 words. So why not learn brief forms for those words. It would speed up your writing immensely.   And if you use those 300 brief forms every day for three years, I believe you'd never forget them.   I'm not sure I've ever seen any proper scientific research done on the subject, so anything we might believe would just have to be blind faith.   sidhe

  38. Thanx for interesting input Sidhe – I myself doubt that one could write everything out in Gregg and still be all that fast.  I only asked again because Ian repeated what I had heard before, that it is possible for not only stenotype but also for Gregg, and, then, why do you suppose Rader would say such a thing?!   As I said, it's mostly a painfully practical matter for me. With limited time for practice, turtle-like progress at best, etc. I am horrified at spending a year or more trying to learn and automatize briefs when in that same year I might get the same results by writing things out. This is especially true given that the "be-all-and-end-all" of proficiency is NOT having to stop and think. Just writing what you hear eliminates a large element of arbitrariness that comes with briefs.  Even though they may be logical, that itself is a thought process that one does not have time to think  through. On the other hand, if I start by writing everything out and then abbreviate by simply stopping when I have enough of the word to suffice, that is not something you have to memorize or think about much.   Nevertheless, I still want to know as a matter of intellectual curiosity what the exact deal is.  I DID hear of a Speedwriter who got 200 wpm, and in one of the posts on Anything Goes, I think it was Ian who said there was once an Advanced Teeline book that offered 200 wpm.  And, however much we may think Gregg is great (and I do) we also owe allegiance to our forebears, and in that case it would be the Gurney writers who did court and Parliamentary reporting for 200 years. 
    Thomas Gurney wrote the official book in 1835 detailing the practice of his father and grandfather before him who had adapted William Mason's 1672 system.  That system is considered primitive compared to Pitman and Gregg, so how did it work so well?   Given the strong mental element in stenography, it makes a huge difference how one conceives of and thinks about all these things.   Now that I've said that, I must also comment on the role of memory even though I'm getting pretty far afield: there is no question to me that the writer must hear and remember one or more sentences being spoken while he is yet still writing down the previous sentence or two. That's all the more reason that stopping to think how to write an outline would be disastrous, because you'd be distracted from hearing what the speaker is now saying and lose it. I.e. it's not just that stopping to think slows you down, it makes you lose awareness of the speaker. For all we know, some very fast writers just cultivate/have a prodigious memory and might retain a whole paragraph that they then leisurely write out. Truman Capote, though a notorious yarn-spinner, I admit, claimed that he and other reporters he knew had trained themselves to save the bother of taking notes during an interview and remember later verbatim what was said. I actually have witnessed a bit of that a time or two.   Jim

  39. Jim   I think the unfortunate reality is that you do need to learn at leasts 100 of the brief forms of DJS. There are brief forms that I never use — merchant comes immediately to mind — and I've spelled it out. I can still transcribe it. Character is another.   In the back of your book their should be a chart of brief forms — photocopy it, write the words in English beside it and carry it around.   The ones you do use really make a huge difference.   If you want to learn Gregg fast, get a copy of Gregg Shorthand 1, which has many fewer lessons in it, but covers all the material.   Just a word of caution, though. It will take hours of practice before you can write fast. An unfortunate fact of life.   Billy/sidhe

  40. Hey, again, y'all:   Forgive me for not mentioning that I already use at least 100 briefs all the time, and they are practically automatic.  I should have explained that I'm speaking about all this from a theoretical point of view, not that of a frustrated beginner. I use most of the joined/disjoined word beginnings and endings in Simplified, though I honestly believe that the ones in Anniversary are more arcane and probably not all that useful in most contexts.   However, I am frustratingly slow in that anything much past 100 to maybe 120 wpm seems impossible to me, but on the other hand, I can also write Personal Shorthand which is purely alphabetic at about 100 wpm, too, so it makes me wonder what to think about different systems and their capabilities. Do you see what I mean? If I am at about the same place with both, then whether I can speed both of them up feels like the same proposition to me except that theoretically Gregg and not alphabetic is "speed-up-able".  But how do I know?   Another thing, the briefs may account for the 100-200 high frequency words which make up most of the literal NUMBER of words we write, but they do not account for the bulk of actual letters written; they are fairly short. The average high school student knows and uses as many as 42,000 words, and any of them can pop up at any time to make you pause and screw up royally in reporting or dictation. So, one thing I DO know for sure: nobody is going to have already automatized 42,000 words, and be ready to write them instantly. UNLESS maybe this is why it is better to practice writing everything out by sound, and then you will be ready for anything that comes up.   But, I'm just confused, not decided, about any of this!   Jim

  41. Oops, Chuck, forgot to comment on what you said:  I believe that what you said is the real reason for most briefs, not so much common words that we use and need a lot, but words that are very awkward in Gregg. For me "obviously" is a good example; it sprawls downward so far that it really grates on me, so I just write O-B!

  42. > I can also write Personal Shorthand which is purely alphabetic at
    about 100 wpm

    I'm interested in how abbreviated that is compared to, say, DJS.
    is Personal Shorthand phonetic? Many principles, brief forms?

    > why do you suppose Rader would say such a thing?!

    I'd love to know, too. It always struck me as intentionally oblique.

    I'm with Chuck on the abbreviation issue; who'd *want* to write Gregg
    out all the time? Abbreviation isn't just to shed sounds that would be
    unnecessary in any system, but also the less facile combinations in the
    particular system (and there are a number in Gregg).

    But I don't see why abbreviation needs such defense. Brief forms and
    plain old terminal-chopping are the *least* difficult things to learn
    and use because they don't require thought, just recall. (This is one
    of the things old-fashioned Gregg gets right.) A more methodological
    abbreviating device makes you run through the algorithm for every case
    you haven't encountered 6 times yet.

    And as sidhetaba says, by the time you've used a brief form or arbitrary
    abbreviating device a certain number of times, it's practically
    impossible not to do so—*especially* when the facility is very great:

    k – a – k – [disjoined st]!!!!

  43. Well, the title of this thread is "Happily Conflicted" and that's how I feel, not for or against briefs and abbreviation, because I use them happily with Personal  Shorthand/EasyScript.  I think I just got spooked by all that talk of writing things out in full, first from the stenotype people and now from Rader!   Do you see what I mean that if I practice writing out as much as I can, then I might feel more prepared for any word that comes up, but if I have to remember whether I know a brief or abbreviation from Anniversary,etc., that adds an extra mental step. Or, if the possibility of writing things out and ever gaining speed is just a myth, then let's find out who's promugating it and make then swallow a fountain pen!   Personal Shorthand and EasyScript have slightly different rules, but they also use many of the same ideas that Gregg does.  PS has 26 briefs that each stand for several words, e.g. "r" can be read as "are, or, our, record, return".  Gregg uses plain R for just "are,or,our", of course. Gregg uses L for "well, will" where PS goes farther and uses "l" for "all, also, will, well, letter." Both PS and EasyScript do exactly as Gregg does with prefixes and suffixes, though EasyScript does it more: initial "p" is read as "pur-, pro-, per-", final "m" is read as "-ment", etc. This all goes to show that the logic and concept of abbreviation is somewhat universal.   I guess I'd rather just either write Gregg or alphabetic and not mix them up.  Abbreviation is all that alphabetic has to fall back on, and Gregg is a fluid, much-faster-to-write alphabet than standard handwriting which would speed up your work even if you never abbreviated.  Then there are the really, to me, crude mixtures such as Speedwriting and Forkner which change the alphabet some but not all, and then also write partly phonetically and partly not. Personal Shorthand and EasyScript bring in some phoneticism such as "sla" instead of "sleigh", "fon" instead of "phone", etc., and, of course, Gregg is partly but not entirely phonetic unless you use the diacritical marks in Anniversary, but that is too slow, just as it was found to be in Pitman.   However, (conflicted again!) I would write "prp" in alphabetic and it could mean "purpose", "perpetrator", or "prepare" depending on the context, and I see no reason not to to the same in Gregg, not so much studying and learning abbreviations already thought up by others, but just using your own; most of them are very natural and come to mind without much thought.   Maybe one more thing: we're thoroughly familiar with English writing and spelling, doing it fairly automatically.  I like the idea of first learning to write in Gregg just as we did English; it's sort of like learning to spell all over again. This could have more to do with our speed than whether we use briefs or not.    

  44. > I guess I'd rather just either write Gregg or alphabetic and not
    > mix them up. Abbreviation is all that alphabetic has to fall
    > back on, and Gregg is a fluid, much-faster-to-write alphabet than
    > standard handwriting which would speed up your work even if you never
    > abbreviated. Then there are the really, to me, crude mixtures such as
    > Speedwriting and Forkner which change the alphabet some but not all,
    > and then also write partly phonetically and partly not.

    Have you looked at the Kingsley Read alphabet?

  45. Hi – just looked up the  Kingsley Read alphabet and realized it was what I just called "Shavian" after Shaw, of course. It is much simpler than Roman letters, but I don't know how fast anyone ever got with it.   I still think Gregg is the best way so far that anyone ever REALLY simplified writing, i.e. if I could ever get used to keeping my stroke length right!   Jim

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