A Simplified Student Looks at Anniversary

My meeting notes last week were getting really sloppy and I realized I was overdue for a good general brush-up on my shorthand system. My first hesitation was committing to the memorization drills again: the Simplified brief forms are painfully dated. But when it came down to it, I just couldn’t bring myself to crack the McGraw-Hill Simplified Manual and dive into 1950’s teenage girl secretary takes again. A desperate search for non-office-related reading material came up pretty blank for Simplified — but surprisingly rich for Anniversary.

And one look at a scan of the Alice in Wonderland book just stopped me in my tracks. Wow that’s cool.

Besides reading (which I’m particularly weak at), the idea of opening up my shorthand study to include the broader world of reporting material, along with the ever tempting chance of higher speed potential overcame my resistance to changing systems and I downloaded the Anniversary materials.

Holy Mackerel!

When they said Simplified, they weren’t kidding! I’ve read on the boards that there was a modest speed/learning trade-off, but I wasn’t expecting that much. The difference is really significant.

The first thing I noticed was the “Reverse circle to express R”. That almost killed Anni for me right there. This makes perfect sense if you have a New England accent where R’s regularly disappear into vowels, but I’m from the other side of the country and often taking notes on manager from Texas where the R defines the sense of his words. Hmm that won’t be intuitive. Can anyone help me understand this one a little better?

Then there’s the abbreviation principle. This basically turns every word over three syllables into the equivalent of a Simplified brief form. And there’s already almost as many analogical prefix and suffix forms in Anniversary as there are brief forms in Simplified. Well that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but still, Wow. Welcome to the vocabulary curve.

But speaking of brief forms, 181 to 318 brief forms wasn’t too daunting — especially since they seem pretty useful. No “automobile”, “railroad” or “Yours Truly”. These are actually common, needed words and besides, I feel like I know most of them.

And the more I looked at Anniversary the more I realized how much it explained all the little unanswered questions encountered in the later stages of Simplified study. Simplified hints at many of these extra Anniversary principles, but just doesn’t bother to explain them or include them in the system. They’re just taught as if they are exceptions to the basic Simplified rules.

Since most of us have been students of English spelling and grammar, we accept the world of exceptions readily. But I find it rather cool to see how complete, comprehensive and solid Anniversary is as a system. I loved learning about the vowel pronunciation marks and many times I thought “I wish there were a principle for this kind of word”. In Anniversary it’s all there.

As a system, Anniversary is a much tighter ship. And I have gained a completely new level of respect for JR Gregg and company. But all that old talk about memory loads? It’s no joke.

Simplified really is.

(by Derek for everyone)

5 comments Add yours
  1. You're quite right about both the 'tight-shippedness'f of Anni (you should check out pre-Anni, too; there are many terrific principles in the earlier system that were omitted in the later one) and the memory load. One thing about the latter: with very few exceptions, everything one needs to memorize is the way it is for a discernible reason, and this discernibleness makes memorizing easier and easier the more memorizing one does. (My guess is that in fact EVERYTHING makes sense with respect to some stated principle. In a recent posting to this list, for instance, I learned that what I had previously thought was an arbitrary word-abbreviation convention, namely, the choice of 'left' v. 'right' S in fact has a perfectly reasonable explanation.)

    One thing about what you write: when employing the 'reverse circle', it's true that you're not writing "r", but its not true that "r" is unexpressed. It's simply expressed in the reversal of the circle. When you read a lot of anni/pre-anni GS, reversed circles ("a"s and "e"s, representing /ar/ and /er/) jump off the page as immediately distinct from forward circles. Reading text with reversed circles is not like reading dialectal English with "r"s omitted.

  2. Thanks for your comments about 'reverse circle'. That's encouraging — and it punctuates my need to increase reading fluency in general. Sounds like if I get my reading up to par, some issues like the /ar/ /er/ rule will become increasingly valuable.

  3. The reversed circle simply comes from the elimination of the r in the writing. Consider the word "jar." If you were to write each letter out, you would write j – a – r, with the a on the right side of the j, because the next stroke is an r. If we stop the word short of writing the r, we end up with the reversed circle. In comparison, the word "jay" is written with the a on the left side, because that is the regular motion.

    When you're ready to get serious with the abbreviating principle, read my previous post on it here: Abbreviating Principle. It explains some of the reasoning behind it.

    I liked your post very much. I'm glad you're seeing shorthand under a new light!

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