Shorthand users correcting words

The recent discussion of shorthand users (whether reporters, secretaries, or others) correcting words — putting down what should have been said rather than what was said — reminds me of some recent emails from a boss, which were perhaps not as shiny linguistically as they could have been.

And I thought, there was something to be said for the time in which it was more common for a boss to call in a secretary to take dictation and have her (or him) turn out grammatically beautiful, orthographically correct prose, rather than have the boss write out their own emails. Ah, “progress”.

(by Philip for
group greggshorthand)


7 comments Add yours
  1. However, most secretaries in the early days did not have the education or experience the boss had. So the first steps in the job, a basic stenographer, just took dictation and typed it up exactly. As they got better and advanced in job careers they took more job duties and did write letters. And it would depend on the boss. I had a boss who corrected 3 errors on my minutes that really didn't need "correction". One was an added comma, another was a change in wording (and not that big of a change) and another was something that was again his choice in changing. He did that in order to change things and put red marks on my paper. I was glad he retired and I moved to another department as he was training his replacement. Hopefully his replacement wasn't that bad and wanted it all his way.

  2. When I left my last job, my replacement changed 40 documents (200 pages) of quality assurance manuals and procedures to replace "he" with "he or she". Every one of those pages needed approval from the top three people in the company, and two or three others who did the jobs described in each document. Then copies had to go to the big customers, and the customers had to sign to say they'd received them.

    Many people honestly don't see the spelling and grammar mistakes, and don't realize how much they jump out at those of us who are good at it. I would say "the rest of us", but having spent time in online writing circles I'm finally convinced that fewer than 1/3 of the population actually care.

  3. I agree, very few care unless it reflects on them personally.

    received an e-mail like this that pointed it out: Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro.

    (I googled to find that paragraph, from here if you're interested )

  4. One of the things junior stenographers would need to learn, no matter how well educated, was how to write in the boss's 'voice'. A better-spelled and punctuated version, perhaps, but still his own style.

    Phillip, my sympathies. I've received a few cringe-worthy emails from time to time.

  5. Even though admins do not type/send the boss' emails, they still work (at least some) on official documents produced by the company. For example, one of my admins was very good as a proofreader, catching grammar and punctuation errors, or words that were incorrectly used. Spelling errors should not be as frequent because there are automatic spell checkers, but syntax errors are inevitable, even with the grammar checkers built into word processing programs.

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