Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Not Guilty

A little adventure to get you some practice in legal vocabulary. An additional list is appended at the end.

Not Guilty - Part 1 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

As fast as possible
It had been a very busy day and my plans to have a shorthand themed day went out of the window. There was no time to look up words in the dictionary, make notes of special outlines in the shorthand folders, record the dictations or clean out all the fountain pens. It would all have to wait until tomorrow. Once in bed I turned out the light and tried to listen to a talk on the Ipod*, but, despite seeing all the outlines appearing as the words were spoken, I soon had to switch off and give in to slumber. After a short while of peaceful inky blackness, the outlines reappeared. I was in a large office, there was a distant faint voice speaking and I saw my hand writing furiously to get it all down. The pad seemed to have only one sheet in it and my outlines grew smaller and smaller* in the hopes of fitting them all in. I reached the last corner and then I had to resort to writing on the table, and then up and down the walls and across the carpet - no time to stop and find more paper. How would I ever read any of it back? I was not even sure there was any ink coming out of the pen, or maybe it was a blunt pencil, or even a piece of wood or an old drinking straw. Fatigue and weariness defeated all my efforts and the scene faded from view.

* Insert the second vowel, to differentiate it from Ipad

* The first stroke is repeated in phrases like this, but it would be equally acceptable here to join them together "sm-smaller"

Not Guilty - Part 2 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

All of a sudden* there was a rustling of papers and scraping of chairs. I looked up and found myself in a court room. Was this a Magistrates Court, a Federal Court, a District Court, a Trial Court, a State Court or maybe the Supreme Court? It seemed to be a trial by jury, and the jurors sat motionless and emotionless*, waiting for proceedings in the judiciary process to begin*. In front of me was a stern-looking judge, rearranging the documents before him. Somehow I caught sight of the heading of the documentation - Shorthand Crimes and Charges. What was my alleged misdemeanour* and why had I been taken to court? Was I being accused of the offence of negligence, nuisance or disobedience, or maybe malpractice or forgery in relation* to intellectual property? Would legal action be taken against me and a restraining order issued? If there* had been a robbery, a burglary, something stolen, vandalism, arson, embezzlement, assault, a kidnapping, a hijack, manslaughter or a murder/homicide, or even treason against Queen and country, then obviously this was a grave case of mistaken identity.

* Omission phrase "all (of a) sudden"

* Insert the first vowel in emotionless

* "to begin" based on the short formphrase "to be"

* Optional contraction "misd(emeanour)"

* The similar phrase "in relation (to) the" is an omission phrase

* "If" can be doubled or halved in phrases e.g. "if there/their" and "if it", but "for" is not, this ensures no misreading

Not Guilty - Part 3 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

I knew no crime or offence had been committed, and I could only come to the conclusion* that it was a case of slander against me, or possibly bribery by an enemy with bankrupt morals, and I would certainly be able to counter these criminal accusations with a claim for defamation of character. I looked round and by my side was an oldish* gentleman with a white beard and friendly face. He was smiling broadly and showed me his business card - Sir Isaac Pitman, Shorthand Defence Attorney and Stenographic Advocate. Things were looking up and as I glanced at his papers, I saw a long list of witnesses that he was intending to call, although I could not quite read the names. Suddenly I felt much better, a lawsuit culminating in imprisonment* in shorthand jail was no longer threatening me and justice would be the outcome.

* Omission phrase "come (to the con)clusion"

* "oldish" both strokes are written downwards

* "-ent" is used for "-ment" where the halved M would not join clearly

Not Guilty - Part 4 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

The Bench and The Bar
The first charge was read out: Scribbling the outlines. How does the accused plead? I had indeed scribbled them many times and was about to reply, when Mr Pitman quickly spoke up, "Not Guilty, Your Honour." I was amazed*. "The defendant* wrote the outlines exactly as I recommended when I created the system, in a manner in which they could be read back, and she did indeed transcribe* them accurately. Therefore I challenge and dispute this accusation and I claim that scribbling is, beyond all reasonable doubt, neither a crime nor a felony, and certainly not a breach of statute law, common law or business law. I call my first witness, the defendant's* shorthand teacher." She stepped up and began to explain how she taught us to write perfect outlines, and then later on encouraged us to write more flowingly in order to increase speed. She confirmed that it was impossible to write outlines as neatly as in the book when going at high speed, and that those had been laboriously engraved in order to be a perfect reference point, which real life writing should aspire to as closely as possible. The judge seemed satisfied with this explanation*. The  jurors began to look more relaxed and I think I saw the corners of their mouths smiling in agreement.

* Always insert the second vowel in "amused" and "amazed"

* This is the full outline for "defendant" but the optional contraction "d-ft" is used in the remainder of article

* "transcribe" omits the second R, which helps to prevent it looking like "describe" when written at speed

* Keep the L Hook clear, so it does not look like "expansion" which can have a similar meaning in some contexts

Not Guilty - Part 5 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Hemming me in
The next charge was read out: Not using dictionary outlines. How does the accused plead? It was true that I had written some unorthodox* outlines, although I had always been able to read and transcribe them without difficulty. I was about to answer to that effect, when Mr Pitman once again* rapidly stepped in to argue against the accusation. "I do not think my client needs to answer that charge, as it is not based on any legal requirement to use particular outlines. The only time dictionary outlines are legally required is during an examination, to prove that the writer has performed satisfactorily using the system stated and so that the certificate is accurate, and in those cases marks are likely to be deducted for incorrect outlines. At the time my client used non-dictionary outlines, she was not in an examination nor, for that matter, writing material for publication. I would like to call my next witness, the editor of the shorthand dictionary."

* "orthodox" is a contraction

* Omission phrase "o(n)ce again"

Not Guilty - Part 6 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Choices
The editor was ushered in and began to read out excerpts* from the introduction to the dictionary, repeated over all the editions, which are as follows. "There will no doubt be differences of opinion with regard to the outlines for certain words, since a form which is the most convenient to one writer is not invariably so to another writer," and "No dictionary outline, therefore, should be rejected in favour of another until an attempt has been made* to ascertain whether there is not some special reason for its adoption," and finally "Every writer of the system is aware that there is often a choice between two or more possible shorthand forms, and the dictionary provides those outlines which experience has shown can be recommended for general adoption." Mr Pitman continued with his refutation of the charge, "This proves that they are recommendations and not legal requirements although I would strongly suggest that the dictionary forms are followed." The judge solemnly turned over to the next page of his documentation, which I took as a good sign that this point had been defended satisfactorily, no stenographic wrongdoing had been committed and therefore no penalty or punishment could be enforced upon the alleged perpetrator*. I was beginning to feel more vindicated than victimised!

* Sometimes heard pronounced without the P sound, but keeping to this outline will ensure legibility

* Omission phrase "has bee(n) made"

* Two of stroke P and one doubled stroke T

Not Guilty - Part 7 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Would my life be a
wasteland behind bars?
The next charge was similar and the prosecution were smiling  and smirking in full confidence that this one would bring me down: leaving gaps in the shorthand notes, a clear dereliction of duty and proof of total incompetence. How does the accused plead? How could I deny that I had left gaps at some time? I turned towards Mr Pitman, who smiled and immediately put forward his refutation. "My client and I would like to know which is the worse offence, leaving a gap of one word or leaving a gap of ten words." The judge ordered the prosecution to answer, and they grudgingly agreed to the latter. "My client has occasionally had to leave a gap. If she had stopped to ponder on the outline, then there would have been* a gap of at least the next ten words. In mitigation of this rare shorthand failing, she always attempted to go back and put it in the margin when there was a pause in the speaking. I feel this course of action has saved the prosecution much distress and anguish by reducing the size of the temporary gaps left. The resultant difficulties were always cleared up eventually, if not by memory or common sense, then by consulting the speaker, a most commendable practice, where accuracy was obtained at the painful expense of having to admit one's shortcomings." I hadn't really thought of it quite like that before, and neither had the prosecution, to their chagrin.

* Omission phrase "there would (have) been. There is little saving on writing time between this and using "have" with an N Hook, but the join is much clearer.

Not Guilty - Part 8 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Don't mention locks
Another charge followed: Not consistently using margins in the notepad and therefore bringing into jeopardy the quick insertion of headings or corrections, and the rapid finding of a particular paragraph for immediate transcription or to read back to the person speaking. How does the accused plead? I had always filled every notebook with pencil margins of about two centimetres, but occasionally a page had turned up without one drawn in, or I had to start a new unprepared notebook with no margins present. Unfortunately this accusation appeared to be quite true. Mr Pitman once again had an immediate answer. "The accused has written, very rarely, without the essential drawn left hand margin, but on those occasions* she merely refrained from writing in the first left hand inch of the page, and therefore I put it to the court that a margin was in fact used. Drawing it in, where it is not pre-printed in the pad, must be considered an optional extra, and a highly recommended and useful one, but it is the use of a margin, not the pencil line, that is in question* here and I assert that the defendant has never written any shorthand without leaving a margin space for extra notes. It is my opinion that this accusation is therefore fundamentally flawed."

* The shun hook of "occasion" is reversed in this phrase, in order to balance the circle

* Optional contraction

Not Guilty - Part 9 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot























A nice blue for the ink
The next charge was brought: not using an ink fountain pen at all times and unauthorised use of a pencil. How does the accused plead? I had indeed used a pencil and to deny it would be perjury. I knew by now that it would be better to let my excellent and indefatigable* attorney answer. Mr Pitman said, "I would like the prosecution to consider whether a speed of 150 words a minute is a worthy achievement or not*." The judge allowed them to reply and they resentfully agreed that it was. "My client was instructed to bring several pencils to the first shorthand class, which instruction she obeyed. At a later date she was given a clutch pencil to save having to sharpen the pencils or suffer the inconvenience of sudden broken or wobbly leads. With this she eventually passed the afore-mentioned exam. In later years personal funds were available to buy some shorthand fountain pens, which improved the writing speed and quality, and therefore the readability and durability of the notes. Pencil was never used again, and we agree that ink writing is much faster, as long as the pen is of good quality and not scratchy. However, the foregoing are merely suggestions to achieve higher speeds, and we are here concerned with the actual usage of pencils in all kinds of shorthand note-taking."

* Optional contraction

* N Hook and halving for "not", similarly "will not" "certainly not"

Not Guilty - Part 10 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Which rule
had I broken?
He continued, "Once my shorthand system became more widely known, it was eagerly taken up by reporters who realised that making quick notes in the street, possibly in the rain, required the use of a pencil and not a dip pen, and I believe many of them used both, depending entirely on the situation in which they had to discharge their duties. They also needed to use pencil in low light conditions, where they might smudge the previous line of writing, or not be able to see the inkpot, for example in council meeting rooms. This was despite my strong recommendation to use the Fono Shorthand Pen wherever possible, which I believe was the best of its kind at that time. Pens are greatly improved* nowadays, but the most relevant fact* is that no law has ever been passed that required the use of ink at all times, and it is left to the writer to determine which to use, according to the circumstances and necessities prevailing at the time." I was relieved to hear that past high-speed reporters had enjoyed great success with pencil, and had not* been left to read soggy ink notes from being on the job out in the rain. This line of defence also boded* well for present-day students who could not get hold of a good pen, and that they too could achieve 150 words a minute or more with a traditional pencil, without fear of prosecution in a court of law.

* Short dash through the stroke is an advanced method of showing past tense of a contraction

* Omission phrase "relevant (f)act", there are many "fact" phrases that can be written like this

* The strict theory phrase for "had not " is to halve the short form "had" and add N Hook, but this makes it necessary to add both a dot vowel and a dot Hay, to differentiate it from "do not". This way is quicker. If you had already written it halved in a phrase, then you would have to add the dots to prevent misreading.

* bode, past tense boded, means to portend or be an omen of, derived from a word meaning announce. Compare bide, past tense bode, meaning to endure, stay, remain or abide.

Not Guilty - Part 11 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Manuscript song book, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Slow, laborious and
paper-consuming longhand
The last charge sounded extremely serious indeed: negligence in leading innocent students onto a path of study resulting in difficulties, confusion, late nights, exhaustion, anxiety and either obsession or disillusionment. How does the accused plead? I felt I could probably answer this but Mr Pitman raised his hand, so that he could speak first. "Not guilty to all charges of alleged misconduct, malicious, harmful and misleading procedures of shorthand dissemination, and abandonment* of responsibility to writers and learners. I present Exhibit One, a list of complaints by non-shorthand students on the exigencies of taking their* journalistic notes and minutes of meetings using only traditional longhand. They complained of difficulties, confusion, exhaustion and late nights in a state of anxiety at how they would read back their scrawled and incomplete longhand notes. These were illegible either because there was no time to write the words in full, or they had made impromptu* abbreviations, untested and untried, which were later found to be ambiguous or misleading. This left them disillusioned at the impossibility of writing complete notes, and indeed the time spent resolving these avoidable difficulties could have been spent learning a reliable and proven shorthand system. I am glad to say that* some became obsessed with finding a solution to this and fortunately discovered that shorthand instruction material was easily available."

* The contraction omits the N "abando(n)ment"

* Doubling for "their"

* MPT words generally omit the P, so use plain M, not the thickened MP stroke

* Omission phrase "I am glad (to) s(ay) that"

Not Guilty - Part 12 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Yes please!
"I would like to call my witnesses, namely several shorthand students* who can provide evidence to refute the accusations made. No habeas corpus or subpoena has been necessary, as they are all very willing to testify in this court." Mr Pitman sat down and in the excitement I was able to catch just a few of their comments. "Yes, there were difficulties, but I overcame them with hard work and got my certificate." "At first I was confused, but as I re-read the chapters, it all became much easier and I obtained my certificate." "I had many late nights but this meant that I could sit for and pass the exam several months early." "There was a lot of anxiety before the exam, but once I started writing, I was glad I had studied so well, and I gained my certificate." "I became quite obsessed with shorthand, and this resulted in earning my certificate much earlier than anticipated." "I became disillusioned with shorthand at the end of the first chapter, but I realised that I was not going to be writing fast until we had covered all the strokes. I persevered and gained my certificate, and I am working towards the next one. Now I am disillusioned with handwritten longhand, at least as a means of writing lots of material very fast and accurately."

* Omission phrase "shorthand s(t)udents"

Not Guilty - Part 13 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Bars opened and
freedom in sight
Mr Pitman had shrewdly saved the best one to speak last. "I got extra shorthand practise at college by taking shorthand notes in all the other lessons and lectures as well. This led to me being able to gain first class passes in all the college examinations, and the highest speed in my shorthand class exams!" Mr Pitman continued, "These statements* speak for themselves and I contend that the accusations made by the prosecution are unjust, unfair and completely unfounded, and I can only conclude, based on observations of my own students in the past, that such an opinion generally comes from someone already disillusioned or anxious, which would be rapidly dispersed and dispelled if they only took the time to speak to those who had already achieved their shorthand goals. These allegations are mischievous in the extreme and my client merely offers the means to learn and improve. No evidence whatsoever can be found for coercion to make students continue their studies beyond their own requirements, abilities and comfort levels." I was so glad I let Mr Pitman speak for me.

* Statements written differently in order to join. The Ses circle represents the S sound of each word

Not Guilty - Part 14 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Prosecutors had dug
themselves into a hole
After an adjournment of two hours, the hearing continued. We were all quite relaxed and confident, but the prosecutors were looking decidedly pale and nervous. Their implications of the unlawful nature of my actions in shorthand writing* were likely to fall foul of the judge's ruling and his interpretation of any regulations appertaining* to the subject. As I looked at the jurors, I felt that I recognised them all, as my commercial course teachers and shorthand colleagues from college, but maybe this was an illusion as they would probably not have been allowed to serve if they knew me. The judge spoke at length on the proceedings and read out his final judgement. He concluded that this came close to a mistrial due to improper evidence, although he did concede that the evidence was merely inadequate due to their ignorance of the subject and failure to check their facts. He was confident that his decision would not be overruled by any higher court, that the accused was completely exonerated, and all the ill-conceived allegations, infringements and grievances put forward by the prosecution were successfully responded to and countered by the defence counsel. Notwithstanding this, he commended the prosecution on their brave attempt at protecting the interests and possible delicate constitution and mentality of past and future students.

* Omission phrase "short(hand) writing"

* Keep well above the line and insert the first vowel, compared "pertaining" which has the same meaning

Not Guilty - Part 15 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

The  jury's completely impartial* judgement and decision was that all of the prosecution's evidence was insufficient and should be rejected immediately, no condemnation was relevant, no guilty verdict could be arrived at, and no sentencing was required. They declared that this litigation was poorly thought out by the prosecuting attorney. The judge commented that it was not in his jurisdiction to suggest how the defendant should write shorthand or what implements to use, and that this would be left to the advisory committee, who would be consulting all the shorthand books written over the past nearly two centuries, from the time of Mr Pitman's creation of the system until the present. This would include those of other systems, who have come to many similar conclusions, and whose minor differences of opinion are largely immaterial to the attainment of reliable high speed writing. Mr Pitman was nevertheless commended for his eloquent appraisal of the situation and his attention to detail in his defence of the accused, obviously a quality he had perfected whilst working on the creation of and revisions to his system of shorthand writing.

* Shel always goes up, and Sher always goes down

Not Guilty - Part 16 of 16 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

In deference to the counsel for the prosecution, in order to deflect attention from their miserable failure in bringing their grievances to court and obtaining condemnation and a conviction, the judge expressed the opinion that shorthand writers were already willing and happy prisoners, undergoing a life sentence of shorthand fascination, which however seemed only to lead to improved performance and increased job satisfaction. He also noted that the traditional longhand was itself struggling against a virtual death sentence imposed by the ubiquitous computer keyboards, audio recording devices and speech to text programs. He concluded by suggesting that interested parties should study shorthand for journalism and personal notes, stenotyping for court work and captioning, longhand for personal letter writing and calligraphy, and computer studies for everything else. I looked around the room to see who the plaintiffs actually were, but they were all bending down packing away their papers for a quick exit. As the court was dismissed, my eyelids began to get heavy, but then all of a sudden* I opened them and I saw the sun streaming through the curtains in my bedroom. How could I have lain in bed wasting a couple of hours of early morning daylight when I could have been doing all those shorthand jobs left over from yesterday? But first I would make a quick draft of my strange court room experience. (3367 words)

* Omission phrase "all (of a) sudden"

Additional vocabulary, with contractions underlined:

Not Guilty - Vocabulary - Part 1 of 4 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot
  1. accessory, accomplice, accuser, acquit, acquittal, adjourned, adjudicate, adjudicator, administer, administered*, affidavit
  2. alias, alibi, alimony, annul, annulled, annulment, appeal, appealed, argument, arrest, arrested, autopsy
  3. award damages, bailiff, bankruptcy, bar, barrister, bench, blackmail, blackmailed
  4. burglar, burgle, circumstantial evidence, civil action, collusion, compensation, complainant, condemn, condemnation
  5. confess, confession, consent, conspiracy, constitutional, contempt, contention, contract, convict, copyright, coroner
  6. counterfeit, cross-examine/cross-examined/cross-examination, cross-examining, custody, decree, defend, defended, defender, deliberate, deliberation,
  7. denial, deposition, diminished, dishonour, disputes, disregard, edict, enforcement, entrapment, equity
* Omits the R


 Not Guilty - Vocabulary - Part 2 of 4 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

  1. escrow, estate, executor, exempt, exemption clause, extort, extortion, extradite, extradited, extradition
  2. fairness, fault, felon, fiduciary, fraud, freedom (of) speech, grand-jury, guardian, guardianship
  3. hearsay, heinous, human rights, hung jury, identification, identify, immunity, impunity
  4. impartiality, inalienable, incarcerate, incarceration, indict, indicted, indictment, infraction, injunction, injury
  5. inmate, inquest, insolvent, intentional, interference, interpretation, intestate
  6. invalidate, issue, judged, jurisprudence, juvenile, kidnapper, landmark*, larceny, lawful
  7. lawyer, legacy, legislate, legislation, legitimate, leniency, lenient
* This is the dictionary version, but it is unclear going through a halved stroke, and might be better written close up


 Not Guilty - Vocabulary - Part 3 of 4 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot
  1. liability, liable, libel, liberty, license, litigant, lynch, majority, mediate, mediation, mediator, minor
  2. morality, moratorium, motion, murdered, murderer, murderess, murderous
  3. negligent, oath, objection, obligation, offender, ordinance, organise, overrule, overturn, ownership
  4. paralegal, pardon, parole, partnership, patent, penalise, perjured, perjurer
  5. perpetrate, perpetrated, petition, petitioner, post mortem, precedent, preliminary*, prescription
  6. prison, probate, probation officer, probationer, professional, prohibit, protection, protest
  7. provocation, proxy, punish, punitive, receiver, redress, refute, regulate
* The colloquial word "prelim" is written through the line, which differentiates it from this contraction, although it would be prudent to insert vowel signs as well.

 Not Guilty - Vocabulary - Part 4 of 4 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot
  1. rejection, relief, remand, remedy, repeal, resolution, resolve, respondent, response*, responsible/responsibility*, restraint/restrained
  2. revoke, sabotage, safeguard, sanction*, search, security, self-defence, sentenced, settlement, sheriff, slandered
  3. slanderer, slanderous, smuggler, smuggling, solicitor*, sue, summary, summons, summonsed
  4. suspend, suspended, suspension, swear, sworn, testament, testified, testimonial, testimony, theft, title, tort, transcript, transfer
  5. treatment, treaty, trespass, tribunal, truth, truthfulness, truthful, unanimous, unclaimed, unconstitutional
  6. unintentional, untruthful, uphold, usury, vagrancy, vagrant, vandal, vandalise
  7. verbal agreement, veto, violate, violence, waiver, ward, warrant, without prejudice, writ, wrongdoer

* Only the vowel signs differentiate this from "responsibility"

* It would be acceptable to write this with a disjoined B for "-bility" if felt necessary, to differentiate it from "response"

* "sanction" omits the K sound, as do others like this e.g. function, distinction, extinction

* "solicitor" stretches the Ster Loop rule in order to gain a convenient outline

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Matchsticks

Matchsticks - Part 1 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Whenever I am writing material for these blogs, I do my best to recall my first days of shorthand learning and the difficulties that had to be overcome. In hindsight* it is easy to see how we were led through it all by our teacher, who had many years' experience of teaching the subject. The year was September 1972 and I can see the college classroom very clearly, with three long continuous rows of tables facing a double blackboard. I can see our shorthand teacher, Miss Jefferson, standing at the front, a small slight lady, probably about 60 years of age. We had all brought with us our lined notepad and pencils, as we had been instructed, and we were each given a New Course shorthand book that contained all the lessons. The very first* thing we were told was the basis of Pitman's Shorthand, written by sound and not the longhand alphabet, with examples like "knife" and "cough". She then drew two circles on the blackboard, with crossing lines in the middle, and told us that all the strokes derived from these straight lines and parts of circles.

* "hind" on its own is written halved with N Hook

* Omission phrase "very (fir)st"

Matchsticks - Part 2 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

We duly began the first lesson in the book, which was entirely straight strokes and some dots and dashes. Our first efforts at reading the sentences were extremely halting, as we were really deciphering each outline by referring to the stroke list. This was a very lengthy process and getting to the end of the exercise was quite a feat of patience, fortitude and endurance for all of us. The outlines did not look remotely like words, obviously because they were not yet familiar to us. It was like solving a puzzle made of matchsticks and ink blots, but we all persevered and put our best effort into it.


Matchsticks - Part 3 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot


During breaks between other lessons on the business studies course, we would go over the sentences again, full of determination to solve each of these little mysteries one by one, ending with the final outline successfully read, and a cheer going up that the sentence was at last revealed. Occasionally one heard mutterings of, "We'll* come back to that one in a minute" and sure enough, someone would eventually get it deciphered, to cries of "Of course it is, I see it now". Some of us also took the Pitman's Memo magazine, and we often read that communally in the lunch break. We felt that we were not going to be beaten by outlines that were trying to hide from us, and we attacked each passage with eagerness and energy, determined to make out all the words. We treated the outlines like footballs, kicking them around between us until they gave up their meaning. We enjoyed our victories immensely and got the taste for these* regular triumphs over the squiggles. Fluency was not on our minds, that was for the far distant future - next term!

* Always write the vowel in this type of apostrophied phrase

* Insert the vowel when "those" "these" are out of position

Matchsticks - Part 4 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Several weeks* into the course, and further on in the theory book, we had similar but lesser struggles. Each chapter not only introduced new items, but also naturally included practice on the prior ones, as the previous and the new vocabulary were all present in the exercise sentences and passages. This meant that the necessity to decipher gradually* reduced and real reading increased, and after a while those first lessons appeared to be ridiculously simple. It was quite obvious that this leaning stroke was a P and that humpy curve was an M - the sounds had at last attached themselves to the strokes. This did not happen by spending hour upon hour memorising them, but because we were using them constantly whilst working our way through the chapters. Most class lessons started with some revision of the previous one, and at that time we were always encouraged to ask questions*, as by then we had had time to ponder as well as practise. This was done communally so that everyone could benefit from the answers. I can imagine that question time is when a shorthand teacher learns which points the students regularly find difficult, and is therefore a golden opportunity to improve teaching technique.

* Omission phrase "several wee(k)s"

* "gradual, gradually" are written with full strokes, to differentiate them from "greatly"

* Optional contraction "qu(estio)n"

Matchsticks - Part 5 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Each stroke or principle started off seeming* strange, new, unexpected, interesting and exciting (depending on your level of enthusiasm for the subject) and almost immediately they began their gradual* descent down the scale of novelty. The bottom of the scale is zero for novelty, but a hundred per cent for familiarity, fluency and comfort. This is exactly where all the outlines need to be, and with regular practise and use, they cannot fail to arrive there. The more you practise, the shorter this journey will be and I would suggest little and often is the best method, so that fatigue does not set in. The mind and hand need to rest and consolidate the new information, and while this is happening, you can be doing something entirely different and useful - in fact, consolidation time could be the fancy new name for your refreshment break, as long as you make the effort to write the outline for tea, coffee, juice, snack or sandwich on the pad before you go off to consume the items.

* Insert the vowel, as "something" would also make sense here

Matchsticks - Part 6 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot


I hope that you are able to persevere through the "matchstick" phase, and rapidly get to the point where those first few pages acquire a completely different type of novelty - one where it seems strange that they could ever have been difficult and unreadable. If you are reading this in shorthand, then you will have already done that. Those reading only the longhand might try the trick of turning a page of small print upside-down to get the feel of what learning to read was like in the beginning, with the mighty relief of familiarity and comfort for the eyes when the page is turned the right way up again. You will know that you have finally arrived when a page of shorthand looks different and wrong when it is seen upside-down - even better if you can actually read it in that state. (1008 words)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Changing Season

Changing Season - Part 1 of 5 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Dandelion flower
Last burst of warmth
I am wondering why it has taken me so long to get used to the idea of it not being summer any more here in the UK. We have had the benefit of a late but prolonged* summer, after the very wet and miserable start to the year with its persistent heavy rain and flooding. Once the better weather arrived, it seemed to settle in quite agreeably, and the warm days just kept coming. At first* this led to some complacency and eventually I realised that, even at the beginning of warm weather, it is prudent to remember that there is a limited supply of such days, and we should get out and about as much as possible.

* Stroke Ing cannot be halved

* Stee loop is used for "first" in some phrases

Changing Season - Part 2 of 5 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Last week*, however, I had to admit the inevitable*. Even though it was still mild, whilst walking towards the bus stop I noticed that I was kicking through rather more yellow tree leaves than usual. One or two* would have gone unnoticed*, but a few gusts of wind had brought these colourful reminders of autumn fluttering down, swirling on the path but held immobile* on the grass verges. My first thought was, "Oh well, I suppose it had to come some time." I quickly adjusted* my attitude, from one of expecting endless* summery weather to one where I was a bit more determined to make the most of the remaining warm days, after this sudden reminder that they were unlikely to last much longer.

* Omission phrases "las(t) week" "one (or) two"

* Note distinguishing outlines for inevitable and unavoidable (using halved V), endless and needless (using N and D strokes)

* "unnoticed" "immobile" such negatives repeat the stroke, for clarity

* Written exactly as spoken "a-jus-ted", don't be tempted to put in a stroke D like the spelling

Changing Season - Part 3 of 5 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Rose flower
Summer's end
rose offering - tiny
but welcome
The word "season" comes from the Latin word "to sow" as in sowing seed, as that moment in the year is obviously the most important* one to identify accurately. We all know that the seasons progress in a steady manner without fixed boundaries, with the likely weather, temperature and plant growth changing slightly each day. However, I find that my idea of where we are in that gradual progression seems to be* influenced by which of the four words I have decided to call it - spring, summer, autumn (or you may say fall) and winter. Even this can be ambiguous, as officially each season starts on the 21st* of its month, with spring starting on the 21st of March. If there is snow on the ground at the end of March, I feel that* these convenient and fixed descriptions* are not quite good enough and I insist that we are still in winter. With the first change of wind direction, bringing mild air and warmth, then to me it is spring and any cold periods are called "cold snaps" in the expectation that they will take the hint and not last longer than a few days.

* Omission phrases "mos(t) important" "seems (to) be" "I fee(l) that"

* Stee loop for "first". Written on the Hook N side of a stroke, the loop becomes "nst" stading for "next" as in "Monday next"

* "descr(iption)" is a contraction, but the plural "descriptions" is a full outline, according to the dictionary. No satisfactory explanation can be found, so I assume this is an anomaly that first appeared in one of the "20th Century" dictionary editions and has persisted ever since. Before that, the contraction was given as an alternative to the full outline. Writing for myself, I would just put the plural S on the contraction.

Changing Season - Part 4 of 5 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot


Nasturtium flower
Nasturtium
Until about a week ago, our warm and sunny* weather had extended* into the "official autumn", which began on the 21st of September, but in the last week the early mornings have been cold and wet, with everything outside soaked and dripping from the overnight mist and fog. The remains of a few roses and fuchsias in the garden are holding out and providing red and pink dots of colour, and the nasturtiums are glowing like jewels around the pond, although they will be the first to collapse when the first frost comes. After a certain amount* of resistance, at last the word "summer" has, like a lacy straw sun-hat, been dusted off, cleaned up and stored away for when it is needed again. Likewise I have put off the summer cardigan and brought out the zipped fleeces, and will be checking over the supply of wrist warmers, thin for cool breezy days, and thick for freezing days. I am not fond of successfully wrapping up against the cold only to find the ends of my sleeves exhaling warm air and sucking* in cold, thus breaching my defences!

* Always insert the vowel signs for sun/snow sunny/snowy

* Keep the T stroke vertical, so that it does not look like "expanded" which has a similar meaning

* Omission phrase "certain (am)ount"

* Insert the vowel sign and keep it clearly thin, as "soaking" has a similar meaning


Changing Season - Part 5 of 5 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Before long I will be rummaging through the winter socks to see what needs replacing, and looking for an excuse to knit some of the lovely sock patterns in the new knitting book. I will look over the range of gloves and mittens which suit every degree of damp and cold that might occur, like a squirrel counting the acorns and hazelnuts in his store - although I suspect* the squirrel has only two concepts in his mind to describe them - "enough" and "not enough"! The thin jackets have been cleaned and corralled at one end of the wardrobe where they will stay undisturbed throughout the winter months, and the padded coats brought to the front and all the zips and buttons checked. The ankle boots have swapped places with the sandals at the front of the shelf, a mutual journey of about eight inches. I am now confident that I will not be taken by surprise, and it only remains for me to gloat over the success of these essential preparations against frozen fingers and toes. The only other thing that I have to do is resist the temptation to stay indoors and hug the radiator, as exercise is really the most efficient way of keeping warm. (836 words)

* The contraction is only used for the verb, which has the accent on the second syllable. The noun, with the accent on the first syllable, has full outline.