Special Forms Question

I am reading an excerpt from the book “Gregg Reporting Shortcuts” and Zoubek finishes his introduction with the tops of how to learn shortcuts.  The main thing he urges is to stick to outlines that the writer will use.

I realize that the special forms are different than reporting shortcuts, but it seems that the way the Anniversary Manual places the special forms at the end encourages them to be learned at a less urgent pace than the BFs.  This might be my one complaint about the FM manual.  Overall i love it and would not recommend beginning to learn Anniversary Gregg any other way.  But right when you get to the end of BFs around lesson 36 you start up with these special forms.  They appear all over that assignment and then you don’t see them much anymore.  Would you all recommend learning them all anyway? Or focusing on the ones that seem more important?
How have you all gone about memorizing these words and other important vocabulary and principles?

(by Ryan for group greggshorthand)


30 comments Add yours
  1. Special forms are not the same as reporting shortcuts.

    Special forms are outlines for words written according to the abbreviating principle, so they indeed need to be memorized because that is the only official outline available for the word, so you are acquiring new vocabulary. The problem is that like with anything, if you don't use them, you will tend to forget them. That's why reading shorthand is important so that you can recall them quickly. But if you ask me how to write certificate, territory, automobile, and all of those words in the short vocabulary list in the Anniversary manual (which is the same as the Special Forms list), I can write them from memory. So yes, they need to be studied, drilled, and memorized.

    Reporting shortcuts are a different animal altogether, as they are special outlines for words that you have already studied, but for reasons of speed need to be simplified even further in reporting, so that phrases could be formed much easily, or that they are of such a high frequency that it is easier to write them in the abbreviated form. You can write Gregg Shorthand without using a single shortcut ever in you life: they are not necessary. But some writers use shortcuts to make the writing snappier. Words that are shortcuts have two outlines: the regular outline (the official "by-the-rule" outline) and the shortcut form. You can choose to write one or the other or both. An example is the word "committee", which is already a brief form written in Anniversary as "k – e – t – e." However, since the word is so common in congressional record material, a special shortcut of "k – e" is provided for those reporters who choose to use it. That is why Zoubek said with respect to reporting shortcuts to stick to outlines that you will use, because you already have an official "by-the-rule" form that you can use. You can choose which outlines you like most, and not have to memorize the rest. This is unlike brief forms and special vocabulary, in which the provided outline is the official outline. So if you write "territory" as "t-reverse e-t-r-e" (instead of "t-reverse e-t"), you will not be writting according it to theory (even though it looks like you did). But if you write "committee" as "k – e – t – e" (the brief form), instead of "k – e" (the shortcut), you are still correct because that is the official outline.

    So in summary, what have I personally memorized? Brief forms, special forms, words written according to the Abbreviating principle, as listed in the manual and in this post, the word endings, word beginnings, and the rules, especially omission of vowels and consonants. So basically all Anniversary theory needs to be memorized, plus additional words not found in the manual that are written according to the Abbreviating principle. I use very few shortcuts because I don't write at a speed that requires them (I use probably like 5 or 6 at the most in regular writing, and that is pushing it), even though I can read the shortcuts in the book (actually once you see them, they come second hand because they are an extension of the abbreviating principle). So between shortcuts and words written according to the abbreviating principle, I choose the latter.

    That is why going from Simplified to Anniversary is a big jump indeed: you have much more to memorize, and much more inconsistencies in some outlines, and to get really good at it, you need to study much more (I would say that the memory load in Simplified was cut by at least 50% if not more). But if you study hard and you know the theory (in other words, do not hesitate in writing), the actual time spent on putting pen to paper is much shorter. The biggest problem is the hesitation factor that comes when the theory (be that Simplified/Anniversary or whatever series) is not learned and studied fully.

  2. Excellent advice. Since I no longer use shorthand "professionally", the few reporting shortcuts I've picked up are the ones I frequently employ when making "personal" notes, otherwise I stick to the Anniversary manual. I do make a point of reading the published stories, novels and supplementary material daily for at least a quarter of an hour to keep outlines fresh in my memory. It's fairly clear that when McGraw-Hill took over Gregg Publishing it was intended to market shorthand primarily for business/office use since a majority of the previous reading material was never revised and republished in a Simplified version … with the exception of the Expert Shorthand Speed Course which for Simplified writers who wanted to attain reporting speed is excellent.

  3. I hope this doesn't sound like i am arguing with you Carlos. You have been, and continue to be an enormous help as i pursue shorthand studies. I appreciate your knowledge and willingness to always respond with detail information. I even feel like i get behind the scene info as i would in a real shorthand class. My post was a way for me to better grasp the information. Thank you for all of your helpful advice!

  4. I considered writing 'referral' with just the brief form, but in the context of my current assignment, I sometimes run into both 'referral' and 'reference', so I needed the distinction.

    I also run into both 'eligible' and 'illegible', clear candidates for abbreviation. Outlines that straggle two lines below the line of writing can be a menace to navigation. They would also be candidates for vowel marking, but in practice, I've found them easy to distinguish.

  5. Which is what I end up with when I abbreviate them. : )

    My inclination would be to mark the second e in illegible, but the ligature under the first would also work. However, even though both words are adjectives, the meanings are different enough that I have yet to run into a context that might cause confusion.

  6. Great points Carlos. I completely agree about referral. After i wrote that i thought who would want to write the dash when an "l" would be very easy. I appreciate your points about memorization as a tool that helps. The more i learn the more i want to know.

  7. There are a few cases like that where vowel markers are essential. (I wish I would remember to write these examples down when I come across them!) Offhand there's immigrate vs emigrate (and their derivatives), then there's flood vs fluid. (Thanks to Mrs. Frick for those.) Sometimes I've seen a long vowel mark under owned to distinguish it from want.

    But then there are cases where even that expedient may not help much, like with the e-oo dipthong where (Anni) k-e-oo is cure (abbreviation) and curious (special form). But what if you really just want to say cue ?

  8. I agree. The abbreviating principle gets a bad rap for being worse than the bogeyman, perhaps unfairly so. One has to memorize things, but I don't see the big deal in memorizing, personally, especially if it's something that is going to help you in writing. The more tools one has in the arsenal, the better prepared one is. Moreover, I don't consider the abbreviating principle rigid. Quite the contrary, it is probably the most flexible principle in all of shorthand. Having to write outlines completely spelled out is definitely rigid. But within the flexibility, there should be some rules to follow when possible so that you don't go astray making outlines that you will have trouble transcribing.

    I realize some people mind the memorization, and the perceived rigidness. I guess it all depends on the willingness and motivation to learn a subject.

    You brought up the "referral" example. The original question was not whether it was r-f vs r-f-l: I was answering whether it should be blended or not. If the inclusion of l would've been the original question, you gave the correct answer: the confusion with reference. Nevertheless, I get your overall main point. I would only disagree in two things: (1) calling the abbreviating principle rigid, because it really isn't, and (2) saying that the application of it is subjective. Well, it really isn't either, because if it were subjective, you will not be applying some logic to the choice of the outline, and there is usually a practical reason why it is done one way and not another. If it were entirely subjective, two writers would write stuff differently, or worse yet, a writer would write something one way at the time of dictation, making up the outline, and when it came to transcription he/she would forget what that outline was! So there has to be some rhyme and reason within the perceived chaos.

    I still don't know though in your choice of writing referral, why would you stop writing to put a dash on a consonant (there is no e in refer), when writing an l joined to a consonant is much faster, but that's besides the point, :-).

    Lastly, to me written correctly means according to theory. You are welcome to write any outline in the dictionary any way you want, and I do that on ocassion. But that is not really writing according to theory. By definition, if a word that is currently abbreviated is not written as such, then it is incorrectly written. However, does this matter at all? Do we need to always write according to theory? The recommendation is to use the outlines of the dictionary, but as long as you can read and transcribe your outline correctly, it really doesn't matter how you write it.

  9. You are right about the risk of confusion when it comes to personal shortcuts. If I remember right, most of the articles on the subject recommend getting familiar with the vocabulary you will be using in your line of work before coming up with such shortcuts. It's a little more work on the front end, but you can come up with better shortcuts that way and save yourself some grief in the long run. : )

  10. For eligible and illegible, I'd use the ligature sign under the i in illegible. The reason for that is that the ligature serves as an "after-you-have-written-it" reminder to you that it is an i instead of an e.

    (However, you could use the pre-anniversary outline for illegible: e – l – e – j.)

  11. Most of the time context would provide sufficient clarification, but there are those odd cases.

    Nowadays for instance we typically refer to a memo. The abbreviated form for memorandum is mem-o. But how should we write this if we really just want to say memo, without the orandum attached?

    A similar case would be magazine, the abbreviated form of which is simply m-a-g. In our modern lazy manner of speech, we'll sometimes hear mag. How might that be rendered to differentiate it?

    I've thought about maybe just placing it above the line of writing, but I'm open to suggestions. Shorthand isn't well suited to slang, and this probably wasn't as much an issue in decades past.

  12. In Anniversary, insure is a brief form, n-ish. I can't find an Anni outline for ensure in any of the official publications, but South-Western's Dictation Studies uses the same brief form as for insure, which isn't too helpful. Perhaps either e-n-ish or even n-ish-oo (forming the standard Anni -sure suffix) would work to distinguish it.

  13. The outline is the same for both words: n – ish – oo hook.

    Why do we need to make a distinction, when proper grammar and context will tell you which one it is? I only "insure" when an "insurance" is in the middle of it. Otherwise, I "ensure." 🙂

  14. It's important if you're dealing with other countries. Assurance sometimes means part of what we call insurance. A well-educated English friend of mine uses ensure when I'd use insure. It all depends whether you trust your boss or yourself more, and if your grammar book is appropriate for the country and industry.

  15. The outline is the same: n – ish.

    Do we really need to make a distinction when proper grammar/context will tell you which one it is? I only "insure" when "insurance" is involved. Otherwise, I "ensure." I also sometimes "assure."

  16. Elusion vs Illusion is another example:

    How about these sentences: "He needs to remember to remain in the spot." vs "He needs to remain to remember in the spot." Both are written exactly the same. I agree they are weird sentences, but this can go to an extreme if we let our imagination go wild.

  17. True, you need to know the appropriate usage for the context to transcribe it correctly. Still, even if you look uneducated or sloppy, at least it wouldn't completely contradict the intended meaning.

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