An introduction

Many thanks to Carlos for allowing me to join the group. I have been learning Anniversary for about a month, using the Functional Method books.

My reasons are twofold: first, for its intrinsic interest. As Louis Leslie writes in his introduction to the Functional Method, it is an “intensely fascinating study” — to a degree that has quite surprised me. This fascination has led me, in the past, to dabble in Chinese characters, which though they are perhaps at the opposite pole from Gregg in terms of efficiency, share the characteristic of being in a way a language unto themselves, quite apart from the substratum of Chinese, or as it may be, Japanese, and formerly other tongues in the same cultural sphere, such as Korean and Vietnamese. Hangul, the Korean script, shares with Gregg the characteristic of having been rationally devised to encapsulate the sounds of that language; in the past, it was written interspersed with sinograms, like Japanese.

There is also the practical motive of utility. I write a lot in longhand, and though its slowness is sometimes an advantage in giving time to formulate a sentence in the mind, it often just feels too slow to keep up with thought. Also, my handwriting is awful, and I hope to remedy this with Gregg! Some years ago I taught myself touch typing (using the ergonomically designed Dvorak layout, rather than Qwerty) and I wish I’d mustered the discipline to do so decades sooner: not only is it faster, it’s just more comfortable.

Despite spending half an hour or so almost daily, my progress has been slow; I think I did not take sufficiently to heart the advice to thoroughly master each section before moving on. But it felt to me that if I repeated the material too many times I might just end up learning it by heart. I was interested to discover from posts here that there is more practice material available that is graded according to the progression of the book.

I chose Anniversary because it is “hardcore”, though perhaps Simplified would have been a good place to start too.

One question at this point, would it be a bad thing to begin using what I already know, especially the short forms such as “that”, “that is”, “without”, “with the”, and so on, sprinkling them amongst my longhand?

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  1. An update, I now have a small pile of books to aid learning. I will single out two: Graded Readings, and Speed Studies. Most of the books I have (though not the Functional Method) originated in the UK, and they are culturally adapted – cricket is played, and business meetings occur in Reading.

    I think I should probably save Speed Studies till later, but the early pages contain very useful hints about learning common phrasings and the brief forms, as well as developing a better hand. Though I am following the "functional" method and not writing much, writing forms that won't stick is a good way of getting on top of them.

    Graded Readings provides more reading material, which is already an advantage of the Functional Method over the standard textbook.

    I find it useful to single out any forms that trip me up when reading, and practice them by writing a few times.

    I am still on chapter one, thanks to not having sufficiently taken to heart the advice to fully learn and master everything before proceeding further. This applies particularly to the brief forms.


  2. I came unstuck some time over the summer, as I expect happens to many new learners! I'm starting again at the beginning, with the difference that I have been making flashcards of the brief forms; I think I will add common phrases, too. I have found this enables me to read the shorthand in the Functional Method book more fluently, for the first time.

    I tried to set something up with Anki, but in the end I settled on manual flashcards. Actually making the cards probably helps with memorising.

    For spaced repetition, I have been using this system (originally designed for learning Chinese characters) adapted to the reduced scale and time-frame of what must be learned (hundreds rather than thousands of items):

    I have reduced the number of divisions so individual cards should reach the end in a month or two. Revision of those cards is then based on the day of the month, rather than a day in the year.

    Part of the knack of fluent reading is internalising the process of deciding from context and sense whether to read a given glyph as a brief form or not, so that there is no hesitation. A strong Pavlovian response to what might be "cannot" or "country" does seem to have made a difference.

    I still do have difficulty though – whether from incipient dyslexia, or poor eyesight – confusing similar shapes, such as k for r, or long and short. So the "context processing" has a higher load than it should.


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