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  1. Functional isn't a different version, it's a different way of teaching it.

    The functional books present the material in the same order as the traditional manual for its respective version — the same material is presented in each chapter — but there is more reading material, and the first 20 chapters label the plates "Reading Practice" rather than "Reading and Writing" or "Dictation" practice.

    The idea is that you get fluent in reading, and know a fair amount of theory, before putting pen to paper. It seems slower, but it has merit. You learn what the similar shapes are before beginning to write a shape, so you don't get used to writing it in a way that's too similar to another shape. (I didn't realize there was a long in the t-d-ted sequence, so my d and t were too long.) You also see how the shapes fit with other shapes, what variation is normal, and get used to seeing it done correctly (rather than staring at your own practice pages).

    For some versions, the functional manual has more than one edition. Simplified Functional 2nd edition has keys to 54 chapters (out of 70), and I vaguely remember that 1st might not. I don't remember details for the other versions.

    Note: I use "version" to mean Anni/Simp/DJS/… and "edition" to mean reprinting the same book with corrections or a bit more material. Bookstores, and the books themselves, use "edition" to mean either or both. The cover of the book will say the version.

    As for Anniversary vs Simplified:

    Both use the same alphabet. If you can read Anni, you can read Simplified. If you learn Simplified first, then quickly read the (short) Anni manual for the extra bits, you'll be able to read Anni.

    Anni was intended for verbatim reporting. There are more brief forms. Some of the rules which seem useless in Simpified (like circle direction on straight lines) are hold-overs from Anni, where they gave information. (In Simplified, you write more letters.) Anni also gives diacriticals (extra marks written after the outline, like dotting an i) to narrow down the vowels. This extra info is rarely needed, but sometimes very nice to have.

    Simplified was intended for office use, where the dictator is willing to slow down a bit, but the advanced texts bring in many of the time-saving devices that Anni introduces in the core course.

    There are very few "conflicting" shapes between the two. If it means something in one, it either means the same in the other, or is meaningless, so it's also possible to blend the two versions, as long as you pay attention to all the rules, even the ones that seem "meaningless".

    The same can be said for all versions up to and including DJS.

    Hope this helps!


  2. Cricket, thanks. I didn't know if Functional was a teaching method or a modification. I've had a copy of the Anniversary edition for years, and finally decided to learn from it. I find that a lot of explanation is missing. I've been making up my own exercises, such as practicing the outlines that are the same shape, but of different lengths. Would be great to have a teacher. Even called the court reporter's association, both locally and nationally and asked if they knew of retired stenographers who might be willing to take on students. Alas! Nothing.

    Am finding the presentation of the material in the pre-Anni book on the angelfishy website helpful. Just the difference in presentation draws something to my attention in a helpful way.

    Am enjoying learning, and it's obvious this will take as long to be good at, as it does to learn any new language.

  3. I forgot that. Some editions of functional don't explicitly state the rules, or maybe leave it a bit later.

    I've bounced between versions more often than is good for me (whenever I hit a block), but a benefit is that I saw several different explanations of the same point.

  4. Cricket, that's why I ordered the Pre-Anni book. I like comparing the explanations in it to the Anni. Am wondering if the early teachers explained all the things which, to me, are missing in the books. They are not well written for auto-didactic practice. I find I need to read in later chapters for an answer to something that is touched upon, but not explained early in the book. Sooner or later, I do find the explanations, or have realized it for myself.

    Am still working out the proportions and slants. My elliptical shapes are not as elegant as in the books, but, as you say, the proportions just need to be obvious to me. I look forward to them being more fluid someday.

    I check out the Simplified Manual from the library today. Goodness, what a different approach. I like the presentation in the Anni and Pre-Anni. I like knowing the alphabet, the grammar, the relationships, where we're going, how we're going to get there. I like having the structure, and the relationships, and then filling in the details.

    Thanks much for your posts.

  5. The Functional Method books were designed for classroom presentation where the instructor would explain the principle. They would present the principle, write the outline on the board, the students would spell the outline, and move on to the next. As outlines are added, the instructor would point to one or the other of the outlines and the students would read out loud the word. In the Functional Method, the actual writing of shorthand is postponed until several lessons are completed because the reading approach helped in fixing the correct outlines in the students minds before they ever put pen to steno pad. It's a brilliant way of presenting the material. The rapid fire reinforcement of the new principles by having the students say out loud the outlines is an great way to impress the principle on a student. The additional connected material in the reading and writing practice was also a new innovation. Another improvement in the Functional Method texts for the Anniversary Edition was the presentation of some of the abbreviating principles sooner and introducing words from the vocabulary list at the end of the Anniversary Edition Manual.

    The presentation of theory in the Simplified manual was the prototype of the method of presentation in later editions. It does have it's advantages. The authors realized that the teaching of shorthand was much more successful if the students were introduced gradually to the theory and that progress was built a bit more slowly so as not to overtax the student. They felt that every lesson should bring a feeling of accomplishment and confidence. Since they figured that the target of the text books were going to be students entering secretarial and general stenographic work, they eliminated some of the more elegant yet memory taxing elements of the theory. That's not to say, however, that Simplified wasn't able to produce very fast writers. Simplified writers could typically surpass 130 wpm at the end of your usual high school course. I worked with a woman who graduated from high school writing 175. While I was training with her, I could read her notes like they were textbook. Her notes were so clean.

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