Get a Dictionary!

I just got my anniversary dictionary in the mail. It’s pretty beat up, but it will work. And I imagine I will beat it up some more before long.

For any of you out there who are hesitating, perhaps thinking that the manual is enough to learn shorthand, I cannot emphasize enough the value of having a hardcopy dictionary on hand! I see at least three major advantages to having it around:

1) It’s my key to branching off into writing the way I speak and the words I hear around me in meetings. (As opposed to the period language of your system).

2) It’s a great way to keep in touch with your system. Think of it like a “reverse lookup” of the rules of shorthand. The manual states the rule and gives the word example. The dictionary lets you pick your own word example and see the rule in action.

3) The spelling order of a dictionary is really powerful in shorthand because it groups so many words by their similarities. It shows me the themes of words and their variations. Browsing the dictionary is a powerful way to internalize what an outline “is supposed to look like”.

What do you think? Agree/Disagree? What am I missing?

(by Derek for everyone)

12 comments Add yours
  1. I heartily agree! I've got a tiny DJS dictionary and it's a real help. The college textbooks give me the theory and some lessons, but in practical, day-to-day use there are gaps between that theory and my understanding of the principles in specific instances, and the dictionary consistently resolves my confusion.

    For instance, last night I was reading a novel and came across the word 'patrol'. "Hm," I thought, "now would the A-loop be inside or outside the curve between the P and the T?" I looked it up and saw the word with *no* A-loop. Of course, I realised, it's a schwa, so it doesn't need to be there.

    "Yes," I thought, "but what if it did? Which side should it be on?" I looked above that entry a bit and found words like 'patio', 'patois', and 'patina', and saw that the loop was on the outside, where I instinctively wanted to put it.

    (I'm correcting myself lately, remembering that it's faster to keep the shapes loopy rather than doubling back excessively. I realise there are lists in the book for when the loops are on the inside or outside, but they're separated out into specific cases, and given as lists that I don't find myself remembering in practice. I guess some drills are in order.)

    This was all really daunting when I started months and months ago, but it's exciting to be able to use this for real now!

  2. Perhaps placement of circle vowels would be easier to remember if you know that they are normally to be written clockwise. Thus "I am" and "aim" are written with A-M, "pat" P-A-T, "ban" B-A-N. Before the R or L curve if the circle is the initial vowel (in words like "ill", "arrive"), they're written counter clockwise. Their placement should come automatically if you've done your studying and practice sessions correctly. Hope this clears placement quandary somewhat.

  3. From the Anniversary book "14. Circles Between Strokes. Where an angle, or a point, is formed at the junction of consonants, the circle goes outside the angle." A point is formed between the P and a T. Hence the circle goes outside the angle.

    I don't have the DJS book in front of me, but there should be an equivalent paragraph. Sometimes theory doesn't daunt on you until you have to write something!

  4. I'm learning Gregg shorthand centennial edition, and I can't find a complete dictionary for it. The only dictionary I can find for centennial edition is the paperback blue & white covered one by Glencoe/Macmillan/McGraw-Hill that says on the front cover "abridged version." Does anyone know if they ever published a complete, unabridged edition of a dictionary for centennial edition?

  5. Unfortunately no. The only dictionary is the abridged version containing words that are either frequent or that are written in Centennial in a distinct way. However, if you can't find a word, either the Series 90 dictionary or the DJS dictionary would work, as Centennial is pretty close to both.

  6. Thanks for the info, even though it was not what I had hoped to find out. Does the Gregg Publishing Company still exist as an entity? I'm wondering if the theoretical possibility exists that they could still come out with a complete dictionary for centennial Gregg someday, like maybe if enough people write them and ask for one.

  7. McGraw-Hill acquired the Gregg Publishing Company in 1948, and in the process, bought the rights to Gregg Shorthand. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a full Centennial dictionary from them, as the demand for shorthand instruction and materials is very low. In fact, if you didn't know, the way the Centennial materials were produced was by using clippings of old material from Series 90 — no one actually sat down and wrote the shorthand in those books. That is one of the reasons the shorthand in Centennial books looks somewhat uneven in comparison to previous series. Assembling a dictionary in such a way is a daunting task, so I'm even surprised they have the abridged dictionary. However, I'm still puzzled as to why they didn't pay someone to actually write the shorthand plates!

    Too bad they didn't call me to write the plates — I could have made good money in the process, :-).

  8. I believe that the woman who pasted together the outlines in Centennial was Mary Buchanan, if memory serves from when Jerry Edelman (platewriter for Today's Secretary for a while) spoke to me. I wonder if that contributed to the new feature in Centennial not to care at all where an outline best falls on a line (for instance, I-am is written entirely above the line so as not to intersect the line at all in the Centennial edition).

    Zoubek did have some pretty high standards for shorthand penmanship. Jerry had to study with the very strict Louis Leslie on the most minute facets of shorthand penmanship before he could write for them. This is my understanding. I am sure Marc can elucidate my memory with his actual experience, as he came onto the scene there two or three years after Jerry started… if memory serves…

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