What are the little superscript numbers in the “Transcript of Shorthand”?

Here is an example from the Anniversary Functional Method p204 (imagine the numbers in parenthesis look like footnotes):
Ray had a meal late in the day.  Will Mary eat a meal in the train?  Mary would take tea.  Ray will claim Mary will(1) not eat a meal in the train.  Her headache will delay her.  A man will heat the tea.  He will not heat the meat in the(2) metal kettle.:

The Anniversary Functional Method has the following remark at the beginning of the key p203: “(Counted in groups of 20 standard words)”  So are these numbers marking groups of 20 standard words?  How are they used?

Thinking I had this figured out I counted the words before (1) and counted 25 words.  There are 26 words between (1) and (2).  Hmm.  What is a standard word?  Is there some way of consistently counting these words to get 20 words between each superscript?

Can anybody answer these questions?

Thanks in advance.


P.S. I am loving shorthand.  I just received a shipment of four Anniversary books.  It was like a second Christmas!

(by Matthew for everyone)


10 comments Add yours
  1. Cool!

    That makes sense. So I assume the numbers are there for the reader to time the reading. For 40 WPM you would read to the first number in 30 seconds or roughly a syllable a second. Do you know if the rule of thumb (I've read) that people generally speak 150WPM is related to this at all?

    This is good – I've been wondering how to read at a speed to train myself in dictation. I think this is something I can explain to my wife when I enlist her :-).

    With Philip's encouragement I bought a number of Anniversary books. I received four yesterday.
    Gregg Shorthand, Anniversary Edition. 1929.
    Gregg Shorthand-Functional Method. 1936. Part One
    Gregg Shorthand Dictionary. 1930.
    Gregg Speed Studies, Anniversary Edition. 1929

    I am still waiting for
    Gregg Shorthand-Functional Method. 1936. Part Two

    This should keep me in reading material for a while :-).


  2. After you have completed the two volumes of the Functional Manual, you might consider a 1943 publication Graphic Transcription which has a couple of hundred pages of shorthand business letters, plates written by Zoubek. The letters are actually interesting to read and contain a wealth of "new" words following all the system theory. The more you read, the easier it becomes to follow the abbreviating principle which essentially was omitted in the Simplified version of Gregg. 🙂

  3. Sure!

    Before the 1920s, dictation material was counted by the actual number of words. So in the early speed contests, when someone wrote at a speed of 180 wpm, it would mean exactly 180 words. Now consider these two sentences:

    #1: I would take tea and two cookies now, please.


    #2: George Washington crossed the Delaware during the Revolutionary War.

    Both sentences are 9 words long. But clearly, sentence #1 is easier to write than sentence #2, because the words are shorter. Hence someone writing 180 wpm based on easy material would have an advantage over another person writing 180 wpm with longer words. For that reason, and after some analysis of the literature, Gregg Publishing defined a "standard word" in English as having 1.4 syllable. How does one do this?

    Take for example, sentence #1. It has 10 syllables: 10/1.4 = 7.1 standard words. Sentence #2 has 19 syllables: 19/1.4 = 13.6 standard words, almost double the amount of sentence #1!.

    So if a passage is counted in groups of 20 standard words, it means that they would put a mark every 28 syllables (20 * 1.4 = 28). Check yourself: "Ray had a meal late in the day. Will Mary eat a meal in the train? Mary would take tea. Ray will claim Mary will" = 28 syllables

    If the passage is counted in groups of 10 standard words, they will be placing marks every 14 syllables.

    Incidentally, in Spanish Gregg, a standard word contains 2 syllables (because Spanish words are longer on average than English words.

    Also, this is only done in Gregg Shorthand. Pitman does not use standard words for counting.

    A great post to revisit this!

    Which Anniversary books did you get?

  4. Our shorthand instructor used those superscript numbers and a stopwatch to dictate to us at varying speeds. They're very useful if you want to make your own practice tapes or have a friend dictate to you. Since you're proceeding at your own speed, I truly believe you'll be pleased with Anniversary. Follow mcbud's advice and the theory and outline recognition will come very quickly. By the time Leslie authored the functional manuals (with Dr. Gregg's blessing) the Gregg teaching staff had years of practical experience in presenting the system in the best and easiest manner to facilitate the learning and necessary memorization for students. You're going to have fun!

  5. Exactly. You use the numbers to time yourself. I'm not sure if the divisions have anything to do with the speaking rate, but anyone that writes at 150 wpm is considered very good! Normally, after the end of a first shorthand course, one should be able to write comfortably at least at 60 wpm.

    I see that you got the 1929 edition of the speed studies. While the second edition is good, the one I like is the third edition, because it was written to go hand-in-hand with the lessons of the manual, plus it adds a lot of practice material.

    Lastly, concentrate on reading shorthand first before attempting to write. It helps to cement the outlines in the brain, so that when you are ready to write, you can do so without hesitation. With the functional method, you don't start writing until Lesson 21. And before starting a new lesson, always read the previous lesson, and know it well. No use for skipping, since shorthand is a cumulative subject.

  6. I use Audacity to help make dictation files.

    First I calculate the total time for several different speeds. Then I record at 60wpm, which is easy to do while keeping one eye on the clock, then use Audacity's Effect / Change Tempo to force the recording to the right length for each speed.

    People speak anywhere between 80 and 200 wpm, depending on accent, type of presentation and audience.

  7. Thanks for putting it somewhere easy to find. It took me quiet a while to find it on this site because I hadn't saved it on this work computer I'm at. I use to write it on the back of the steno books for easy reference.

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