Functional Method Dictation and phrasing

I finally completed Functional Method Dictation. I selected this one for my first intermediate text at Carlos’s suggestion. He had particularly noted the phrasing employed by Mr. Zoubek.

He wasn’t kidding! There are enough phrases to make your head spin. (How unfortunate that they weren’t indexed!)

But I was also surprised at how many phrasing possibilities were overlooked. For example, Mr. Zoubek consistently wrote out “every day” and “if possible.” These are commonly phrased even in the beginner level texts, and both are listed in the official Anni Phrase Book.

Moreover, I was reading concurrently the latter chapters of the 1929 Speed Studies and also Mr. Bowman’s Dictation Studies book. I repeatedly encountered phrases in both not used in FMD.

I do not say this in criticism of Mr. Zoubek; on the contrary I found it reassuring. Even an exceptionally brilliant phrase writer as he didn’t avail himself of every phrasing possibility. For me this served as a reminder that phrasing isn’t something that should “burden” a stenographer. It mustn’t be a weight that will cause hesitation in writing.

I recognize more clearly that phrasing is something that is part of an ongoing development process, learned mostly by absorption through reading (and copying) lots and lots of well-written shorthand. I run across phrases every day that I haven’t seen before. (Just ten minutes ago I learned “with-regard” from the Bowman book.) Nobody is ever going to memorize all of the phrases that can be made–except maybe Carlos. 🙂

And then there’s the testimony of long-time expert reporters who observe that “The longer I write shorthand, the longer I write shorthand.” Some of the old greats actually dropped the uber-phrasing over time as unnecessary.

Anyway, just a few observations from a grateful intermediate shorthand student. Feel free to smack them down. 🙂

And now a question for Carlos (which Marc might appreciate): Based on the Anni dictionary, how would you distinguish between “resplendence” and “resplendency”?

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  1. Great observations. My thought was that phrasing helps when it is learned well. However, if you are thinking "is that a phrase", then it's better to write separately.

    About your question, those two words are like "flagrance-flagrancy" — they are written the same. But if you look at "emergence-emergency" and "brilliance-brilliancy", those pairs are distinguished, even though the root is written with the abbreviating principle. More than likely it is because "emergency" and "brilliancy" are probably more common than "flagrancy" and "resplendency", so the extra distinction is needed. (However, if you asked how I write it, I put the extra "se" to make it clear.)

    1. Ah, I didn't know about those other examples. And it does seem a little lop-sided that "emergence-emergency" would be distinguished, since their respective meanings are different in common usage and would be clear in context–while "flagrance-flagrancy" and "replendence-resplendency" (like "brilliance-brilliancy") are basically two forms of the same word, with identical meanings.

      It's hard not to see this as a shortcoming of the series, minor though it be. A speaker could conceivably use either word, and how would the transcriber ascertain which one it was?

      I'm glad to know I reached the same conclusion as you did. I figured the word with the extra syllable should logically be given the extra "se." Thanks for the reply!

  2. Just for the record, I even write out "silence" and "silent" (one of them is a special form in Anniversary) because I can NEVER remember when taking dictation which one is abbreviated. It's better to write it out than stop and think. Thinking ALWAYS gets me in trouble (and I don't just mean for shorthand).

    1. Writing "silence" fully has one extra stroke (the left s) as compared to the outline of "silent" (which is written completely). So "silence" is abbreviated at the l, to save three strokes.

    1. Good point, now that you mention it. "Silent" and "silence" could easily be distinguished by context.

      So here's another example–words that are distinguished in outline where context would be sufficient, while flagrance/cy and resplendence/cy are assigned the same outline? I'm heavily biased toward Anniversary, but that's just wrong!

    2. I'm working on Speed Drills in Gregg Shorthand now, and it's funny–I'm seeing the same things as in FMD.

      My study here consists of reading from the key and writing the shorthand, then checking it against the text. Sure enough, there are phrases that Mr. Zoubek doesn't use.

      I'm sure that I've seen "do it" phrased in beginner-level texts. Yet I came across a line of text that read, "you do it" and I just naturally put all three in a phrase. Yet he had written all three words separately. He didn't even phrase "do it." (???)

      Well, different folks have different styles!–and already I've learned some new phrases here.

      But then I remember in FMD in the last few chapters where the great Mr. Dupraw contributed the plates. I was wondering at first why he phrased "it-is-the" twice on one page, but on the same page also wrote "it-is the"–why not phrase all three words?

      Then I remembered: This is the great Mr. Dupraw. In the latter case, he probably had already written out "it-is" before the speaker had gotten to the "the." Another lesson: the rhythm and cadence of the dictation.

      The lesson again: Don't "worry" about phrases; just go with the flow!

    3. I believe you answered your own question. More than likely, those plates were dictated instead of copied from text as you're doing. That could explain the discrepancies in the phrase use.

    4. Indeed, that probably explains a lot of it, but I think there are exceptions.

      For instance, in the beginner texts I frequently saw phrases such as "realize-the," realize-that," realize-that-the." I phrase those by habit, yet when I would compare with the FMD plates Mr. Zoubek almost never did. So I concluded that maybe he just didn't commonly phrase "realize." (I assume that must be the case with "every day" and "if possible," which I never saw him phrase.)

      But again, this isn't a criticism, just an observation. To me it just underscores David Wolfe Brown's admonition about the "phrase-seeking mania."

      Not to minimize the importance of good phrasing. Like yourself, I tend to think in phrases. But perhaps some of it just comes down to personal preference and style.

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