Variant form ‘Homonyms’ in Pre-Anni/Anni

A question for writers of Pre-Anni and Anni GS: the GS dictionary has many forms of the sort CS (cause/because~consider) and ACS (accept~accident), which represent lexical distinctions through the choice of alternative sign forms: in these cases, the choice of ‘left’ v. ‘right’ S.  I’m wondering whether this sort of practice was reconsidered in later versions of GS and if not, why not.  The reason I ask is because it seems entirely arbitrary that certain word abbreviations were assigned one particular sign form (e.g., ‘left’ S for cause/because; ‘right’ S for consider).  (Am I mistaken; is there a rationale behind these — and similar — form assignments?)  The fact that different ‘homonymous’ word abbreviations are (sometimes) distinguished, in Pre-Anni and Anni, by alternative sign forms significantly increases the memory load for these writing systems.  In the interests of following proper practice, I have of course been noting, memorizing, and incorporating all such cases in my writing.  I wonder, though, what special advantage they confer?  In practice, when a GS writer encounters the word abbreviation CS in his/her own writing or someone else’s writing, the context will make it very clear whether what is being abbreviated is ’cause/because’ or ‘consider’ regardless of which form of S is written.  Not that I plan on ignoring these sorts of distinctions, myself, but I wonder: is Pre-Anni/Anni GS more or less efficient a system for having them?

(by A for


9 comments Add yours
  1. I appreciate the explanation. I still wonder, though, about memory load and efficiency. Considering GS from a kind of historical linguistics perspective, it makes perfect sense (for the reasons you indicate) that one kind of S is used in one word; another, in another. In formal GS training, were students encouraged to think through the whole analysis, e.g., that "cause-because" has left S because, if we were to write the whole word, it would be k – o – left s? Or were they simply told to memorize the short form for "cause-because"? To perform any sort of analysis (conscious or unconscious) while actually writing would slow one's writing considerably. To simply memorize a form (which is what I have been doing) one need not have any grasp of an underlying analysis. It seems to me that allowing context to supply the proper interpretation of abbreviations like ACS, with S always written in one direction (say, left) is — from a rapid writing perspective — just as efficient as memorizing forms with left v. right S, and far less of a burden on memory. Again, I'm not doing this myself, it just strikes me as a reasonable hypothesis.

  2. DJS keeps many of the distinctions, including S direction in brief forms. Without them, there would be too many words using the same form for easy reading. Yes, it's a pain to memorize them, but ambiguity is worse.

    If the number of brief forms in Anni and Pre-Anni really gets to you, there's no harm in moving to a more modern version. The language has changed. I had a good laugh at some of the words Anni considers common enough to need a brief form. Brief forms that are used so rarely you have to think about them are bad.

    I suspect that sometimes the choice of form is based on word frequency and speed. "This" is a more common word than "those", so get a slightly easier shape. Sometimes it's a relic from a word that's no longer common, or a principle from an older version. Sometimes there is no clear better way, so it has to be arbitrary.

    At 80 wpm your analytical brain is cut out of the loop, so the reasoning doesn't matter. When learning, though, I find understanding the reason and/or having a mnemonic (there's often overlap) is useful. Thinking through the reasoning or the mnemonic is an easier habit to break than stopping to look it up or pausing until the right shape will appear magically on the wall.

    Reasoning vs memorizing is like phonics in longhand. Most adults read an entire word, or more, at a glance, but when we started we had to sound things out and still sound things out when we hit a strange word. Same with typing. I type common words by just thinking them, but have to slow down for uncommon words.

    Some of the books explain the reasoning better than others. Keep asking as things come up. Someone here will remember the answer.

    I made lists of similar outlines. That way I could see the entire family at once. TH-S was one set — four different outlines. S-P with E's in various places was another. Some outlines were in more than one family. Many books say "We introduce related concepts one at a time, many chapters apart, so students don't get confused," but I find learning at least the theory together is useful. I often read ahead to see what's coming up (but always go back to where I left off with the penmanship and speed drills). It's saved me some bad habits.

  3. It's always good to learn the formal way per Gregg's official methods, but I feel that if you can accomplish your goal of a. writing really fast, and b. recalling correctly what you wrote, I see no problem in using a single outline to represent "word families." Meaning that in your personal writing, a KS could mean "because" or "consider" depending on context. (I did this at the beginning of my studies)

    However more often, if I guessed at a word and then later looked it up, the 'official' outline in the anniversary dictionary would be much more logical, easier to execute, prettier, convenient, etc. than what was my interpretation.

    But overall, I'd say learning the word the correct way the first time around as a habit is the better way to go as it forces you to be consistent and consistency is what prevents you from walking out of class with notes and then looking at them an hour later only to blank out. (VERY FRUSTRATING) Either way, though, it's your call.

    (Mind you, I'm 21 and I just started learning GS on my own for lecture notes about a few months ago. I'm already at about 70-80wpm but obviously, there are no classes nowadays so I'm very familiar with these "annoyances" in the learning process you're encountering, haha.)

  4. In most cases, there is a reason why the form is written in a certain way — although it seems arbitrary, one can look for a rationale. And most of the time it has to do with how the word would look like if spelled out completely. For example, for "cause-because", if we were to write the whole word, it would be k – o – left s, hence the brief form is k – left s. For "consider", the right s is used because it would be the next stroke if we would write it out (k – right s – e – d – reversed e). By the same token, now you can figure out why "accept" is written with the left s, while "accident" is written with the right s.

  5. While I cannot answer whether an explanation was always provided in the classroom setting, personally I learn by analogy, and that's how I memorized the brief forms. I recall I read somewhere that with the functional method, if a student asked a question like that, the answer should receive a simple explanation, but not resorting to a theory treatise.

    However, If I understood you correctly, you seem to infer that while we are taking dictation we are making an analysis of the words. That is not true — in fact, if you do that, you will be lost in the dictation! When one is taking dictation, your goal is to take down the material that is being dictated. The only thing that is on your mind are the words of the speaker. The outlines should flow out of the pen without hesitation. Stopping to think about a specific word is a big no no. You write whatever comes to mind when you hear the word. That is why constant practice of those troublesome words is very important, so that you don't hesitate when to write. And this also explains why the later versions of Gregg eliminated a lot of these troublesome words, so that the memory load is diminished and the hesitation factor would be greatly reduced. Clearly, Gregg elected to go the way of spelling out the words, rather than standardizing on a single set of brief forms with one spelling.

  6. As ever, a very stimulating discussion. I really appreciate everyone's feedback. Lest anyone misunderstand where I'm coming from, I should say that the initial question I posed was of the devil's advocate variety only. I only know very little about later versions of GS (mostly what I've read on this forum). I'm a totally committed practitioner of hybrid Pre-Anni/Anni GS. And I'm very much a stickler, in my own learning, for proper form (a little less of a stickler for rigidly proper proportions for reasons I've expressed elsewhere, but absolutely for proper form). Though the memory load for early GS is high, a couple years of study have made it very clear to me how great the advantages are of putting in the hard work of memorizing.

    Another reason I posed the question: I read somewhere a long time ago (perhaps it was on the site) an anecdote about Gregg once being called out by one of his students(?) for an error he'd made, and replying to the effect: it's not an error if I can read it. To me, that sentiment underscores one of the great strengths of GS: that users can — within the limits set by its conventions/rules — adapt it to their own purposes (by creating novel short forms, phrase abbreviations; by retiring others if they are less useful/relevant, etc.).

  7. I agree with you. While I follow theory as much as possible, I write with a hybrid pre-anniv/anniv, with additional shortcuts and abbreviations.

    About "it's not an error if I can read it", it is very true, because it is the transcription of the shorthand what really counts. As long as the symbol is transcribed correctly, there is no error.

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