Ah so frustrating

There was a really good speech by our Greens government in relation to the Australian budget, but woe she was talking at around 150. Shorthand usefulness is highly handicapped even at 100 even at 120.
I suggest to learn a system that has a high ceiling speed, because you don’t want to be limited to below verbatim speeds. At least with anni or pre-anni I know that I have the capability of reaching that speed, but if you’re limiting yourself to never take proper verbatim, well then you will rarely find yourself in a position where someone wants to dictate to you only, and will always be stuck with an inability to keep up.

My rambling has sort of turned into a pro-older systems argument, but I think its good to set your sights high. In this age, the most practical thing you can do with your shorthand, is take meeting notes, to record speeches at gatherings where no one has thought important enough to take a tape recorders (which is most speeches in fact — and sometimes those speeches might be cool to post in a company or school newspaper, that would get you in good with your colleagues as well)

Of course I have been post-poning my engineering homework for the last hour, while taking this speech down. Taking dictation for a long time gets you on a bit of a high — thats probably why I’m typing a whole essay right now.


(by michael_lisitsa
for everyone)


13 comments Add yours
  1. Engineering? Yes! I'm not the only one! (Just don't ask me to sign anything more technical than a passport — the skills degrade incredibly fast, and I haven't worked since 1998.)

    I hear you about two speeds. I'm so used to taking notes longhand that I automatically use outlines as I go. (I'm still so slow with Gregg, and have to think about enough, that it's not useful, yet.)

    I'd love to reach verbatim speed, but even if I got there, I'd still use outlines most of the time, only in shorthand.

    It's faster to study if you have things well-organized in an outline rather than a single stream of verbatim notes. (I realized a decade too late that my system was similar to Cornell Notes.) Half of what a prof says isn't worth reading again.

    Outlining as you go makes you pay attention and learn it the first time. Do I already know this? How does it relate to the big picture? Should I cross-reference it to that bit up there? Is this just a repetition? Is this a better way of looking at it? Do I need to spend a lot of time at home on this?

    At my stage, so much attention goes to the shorthand that outlining at the same time just won't happen. I can see, eventually, though, that I might get lazy and say, "Just get it down. I can read it later."

    I've been to lots of meetings that are so information-rich that, even with outlining, longhand misses a lot. Shorthand that's as automatic for me as longhand now is will be wonderful.


  2. Well yeah I understanding taking a summary (outlining) is in most cases the more useful method. Eg. My Structures lecturer who talks in half sentences. Of course sometimes usefulness is not our objective. Whether we want to repeat to our friend, just what rubbish he's been talking for the last 5 minutes, or we want to as i exampled before, record a speech at a school/work function and post in the newspaper.

    A good point made by harpersnotes bout verbatim can become a mechanical exercise with not much comprehension. Well I'm counting down the months till my shorthand will become a purely mechanical task! — or maybe not who knows.

  3. quote: Whether we want to repeat to our friend, just what rubbish he's been talking for the last 5 minutes

    You have some of those too, eh?

    I remember one time my lab partners being excited as I tried to get down something verbatim in class. (I may have been 50wpm in Forkner at the time, probably less, never tried actual dictation.) Can't remember what it was. Couldn't have been too important, since they weren't trying to listen themselves. I think it was something written on an overhead.

    Question: Do you find Gregg works well on diagrams, or does it get messy?

  4. I don't know its kinda complicated on diagrams. Its a weigh up between legibility and speed. I try to separate it on the priority of the info. Say I need to write out an example question, no worries cause its highly unlikely I will need to glance at that information too often. But if its some important definition or diagram I might write it longhand so that I can refer to eat quickly without hesitation.   If I was doing a humanities course I might consider putting keywords and concepts in longhand with everything else in shorthand. Then the longhand would literally leap off the page. Still its good having the choice.

  5. But, but, switching to longhand in the middle is a big no-no! At least if you are training for speed. I do the same thing, though — it automatically highlights the important or new words, and it's like outlining in that it makes you think about which are the important words. Usually, the important words are new ones, where don't have an outline handy and need to get the spelling.

    As for powerpoint lectures? In my day it was overheads, and our class academic reps went to the profs and asked for a set and copied them for us. We each paid about $8 for a bound set. The organized profs didn't mind at all; some even made the copies and sold them to us at the first class. The unorganized ones made noises about copying being part of learning. (Filling in a few blanks, yes, but some of those diagrams? But these? Copy as fast as you can, and hope it's clear enough to learn from later.)

    Then we have the prof whose lectures consisted of proof-reading the overheads, which had been typed from another prof's notes by a non-tech secretary, with huge font and tons of blank space.

    I like the website thing. You can print what you need, and choose the size.

  6. I agree that if your intent is to actually take the spoken word instead of just taking notes or minutes, then you need a system with a high ceiling speed. I can guarantee you that most people speak around 170, so 150 is a bit on the slower end, unless there were lots of pauses. I'm in 180-200wpm at school, and it sounds to be about the range a normal educated person might speak in (though 200 sounds rushed with denser material).

    I do seem to recall, however, that Simplified was used for court reporting as well, so with briefs and phrases, it was just as viable as Anniversary, though maybe a bit more frantic to write. I think Diamond Jubilee is capable of decent speed if you learn the Expert series.

    I think in the bigger picture though, it just depends on the kind of trade-off you want between the mental labor of memorization and learning more for older systems versus the physical labor of writing more out for later versions.

  7. Michael, You have a very good point about the ability of the older systems being better for higher speed attainment.  There were Anniversary writers coming out of high school writing 175.  Simplified also produced a great deal of very rapid writers.  I've heard good things about DJS writers, though I do find the theory to be a bit long.  I was a Series 90 student that saw the error of McGraw-Hill's ways and went shopping for the Anniversary manual.  The principles of the Anniversary and pre-Anniversary manuals were designed with the verbatim reporter in mind.  If you get your hands on a copy of Gregg Reporting Shortcuts or the holy grail, Gregg Shorthand Reporting Course, you will see what the really fast writers of Gregg Shorthand wrote.  Although the principles presented represent a further abbreviation of the system, it all builds on the basic principles of the system, particularly modification of word forms used in phrasing.  Testimony lends itself very well to phrasing.  I think there is a place for very fast writers in the world — those who can take verbatim speeds.  It just so happens that nearly all of them are machine shorthand writers.  However, I find that my having good shorthand skill makes my skill a bit more portable.  I can go to court with my attorney and take decent notes of the important points and, when necessary, verbatim what the Court has found or ruled.  We always buy the transcript from the reporter, but my attorney is very glad that I have notes from the hearing.  The problem is, nowadays, secretaries don't automatically utilize shorthand (I'm the only legal secretary in my firm who knows shorthand).  Therefore, I've had to train my attorneys to utilize my shorthand skill.  Not everyone has to write 175+, you can be plenty useful at 150.  At that speed, you can usually handle the intermitent spurts of speed that the speaker makes and still make good notes.  I'll be happy if I can reach 150 again.  If you don't use it, you lose it is very true in the shorthand biz.  🙂

  8. Good points. Anniversary and pre-Anniversary graduates easily achieved much higher speeds than those attainable with later "simplifications" although the 1949 Simplified also allowed for high speeds.

    I've recently moved and unpacked my DJS books. In the forward to the Manual there is the horrifying statement that many phrases and shortcuts have been eliminated due to a study showing that they were not used in the business office despite having been taught. And there you have it. Certainly by the DJS version, McGraw-Hill had relegated shorthand to business letters only.

    This weekend I saw a community theater performance of "I Never Sang for My Father". The father in that play had been a successful businessman and states several times that he had bettered himself by going to business school and taking shorthand and typing classes. At several points in the drama he implies that he still uses shorthand for personal memoranda and letters. Now the play must date from the late '60's when there still were people alive who'd risen through the business ranks by shorthand knowledge. (The Gregg Writer is loaded with such success stories.)

    As stated elsewhere, the original Gregg with very few modifications until 1949 was primarily designed for verbatim reporting. It appears with the McGraw-Hill takeover and the discontinuation of The Gregg Writer that the decision had already been made to concentrate on business usage only.

    It is irksome that in the introductions to all versions from 1949 on it is proudly stated that the system has been made easier to learn by reduction of the memory load. Seems to me that a tremendous amount of students managed to survive the pre-1949 memory load with their nerves and abilities intact. I believe what is really being said is that not all students have equal ability and rather than pander to the better students, the material has been "simplified" so that slower students can absorb it with less difficulty than before.

    If a shorthand beginner were to ask me which version to study, my first question would be "How much time do you have to devote to studying?" If he had limited time, I'd suggest Simplified as his system of choice. Had he more time, I'd say Anniversary was the best choice, particularly if he wanted to take verbatim notes.

    Simplified is not a bad choice as if you've learned it and wish to, it's not difficult to make the jump to Anniversary. Then from there if you're really ambitious, go to Pre-Anniversary.

    The phrasing taught in Simplified is really quite minimal compared to phrasing in the pre-1949 versions which makes me really wonder what kind of shorthand teacher would recommend the essential elimination of all but the simplest phrases.

    I confess my biggest problem with DJS is the elimination of the "j-nt" "p-nt" blend – but this is really a moot point as very few people are ever going to learn Gregg ever again unless by some fluke this group can convince educators that it's useful to be able to read and write shorthand.

    Smiles to everyone.

  9. The ascension of stenotype is what drove Gregg Shorthand to focus primarily on shorthand for use in the business office and less focus on high-speed attainment.  Each edition did have it's "expert" volumn.  There is the general perception that machine shorthand is "easier" — though, I find it not to be so.  I've learned both.  Each kind of shorthand has its own points of concentration.   It is difficult to find someone in the business setting that when dictating correspondence speaks more than 120.  The real fast speeds were not truly necessary.  Taking meeting minutes requires a bit more speed at times.  Another unspoken reason for the simplification of the system is probably that they wanted to be able to teach shorthand in high schools.  The attain court reporting speeds it takes a while.  My high school only offered 2 years of shorthand.  The focus became getting students out the door who could do well in the business office.  We walked out the door doing around 120.    Since finding this group, I've been really amazed at the gravitation of the students to the older versions.  It's good to see interest in the old school methods.  🙂    

  10. I think that both of you make good points; however, I would not recommending killing a flower before it has a chance to blossom.  That being said, if shorthand interests you, then learn it and learn it well.  Whatever you will need it for will be revealed to you when and where or under what circumstance that surfaces.   In my own experience, I became curious about one's ability to use cirles, lines, and squiggles to record spoken speech.  I learned it and basically put it in the back of my mind.  Then one day, fresh into college, I was taking a Biological science class under a professor who spoke a lot in most in a foreign voice that was  hard to understand.  I pulled out my shorthand pad and began to write whatever it sounded like he was saying.  I was able to pass the glass with a B+, but along the way, I make money to take care of my expenses by selling copies of my notes.   I still use shorthand today (I leaned it in the late 60s) for personal notes, minutes to meetings that I sometimes take verbatimly and other times not.  It has serverd me well over the years and still does.

Leave a Reply