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Speed Up Pad (10 February 2017)
You have tuned up your car for speed and reliability. You have cleaned and oiled the bike for extra smooth fast cycling. You may have lost weight, gained fitness or bought some cushioned trainers so that you can walk or run faster. Maybe you have defragged your hard drive so that it responds more quickly. None of those will work on shorthand, but here is something that most certainly* will. I have created a Speed Up Pad, so that you can do some intensive speed practice without having a dictator to help you. It is a type of facility drill, but it is laid out slightly differently from the normal ones that I do for the blogs. It contains 48 line length sentences, each of 15* words. Each sentence has 10* blank lines underneath with a running word count in the margin.
* Omission phrase "mos(t) certainly"
* "ten" and "eighteen" Must have the vowel written in
The idea is to copy each sentence up to ten times in the blank lines within one timed minute. Firstly* practise the sentence on your normal pad, saying it out loud and writing it as many times as it takes to become totally familiar with it. Do extra practice on any outlines that you find more difficult to write smoothly. By the time you have done this, you will have the sentence and its outlines in memory. Now for the speed attempt. On the Speed Up pad, cover up the text so that it does not distract, start your one minute timer, and write the sentence in the ten blank lines, saying the words out loud or in imagination, and starting a new line for each sentence. Stop when the timer ends. Using the word counts in the margin, add up how many words you have written. That is your words a minute* speed on this attempt. Completing all ten lines in one minute in legible shorthand will be 150 words per minute. Completing five lines is 75 words per minute. If the shorthand is illegible, or if you were* copying mindlessly from the line above, then the speed number does not count!
* "Firs(t)ly" Omits the T
* Omission phrases "words (a) minute" "if you (w)ere"
Writing more than half a page of the same sentence at one time* is unlikely to be productive, as the mind and hand tire of repetition beyond a certain point, with the thoughts wandering and the hand wavering and hesitating. Move on to the next sentence, with the same preparation and speed attempt, to keep the writing varied. Later on come back to a previously done sentence and do the speed attempt again. An important part of speed improvement is the cultivation of a light touch and an even rate of writing, with no slowing down between outlines. If you have to stop to think, then more preparation is necessary.
* "at one time" Halving for the T of time
There is then only one last job to do, and that is to turn the paper over and see if there are any indentations, ridges or bumps from pressing with the pencil or pen. The surface should be as smooth as before it was written on. If it is not, then you need to identify why. A reasonably sharp traditional wood pencil does not require so much pressure as a blunt one, and hooks and circles can remain clear. I dont recommend mechanical pencils as the very narrow lead will not stand up to any pressure and if it breaks mid-dictation, your take is well and truly scuppered, not to mention the broken piece flying into your face and eyes. If you can acquire a really light touch, you may get acceptable results with a biro, as they can be made to produce thicks and thins with careful* control. As ever, my ultimate recommendation is a flex nib fountain pen, but you can still get to 150 with just a pencil, as long as you remain selective about its quality and sharpness (and the quality of the paper). I should say stash* of pencils, all with good points and ready to swap to, so that study time (or indeed your assignment taking notes at a meeting) is not spent fussing about with the sharpener or hampered* by a blunt or wobbling lead.
* "careful" Optional contraction
* "stash" Not in dictionary. Ish goes down after stroke T and up after stroke D
* "hampered" This is a halved Imp stroke, hooked for R. Without the thickening it would be "hammered"
Please remember that the speed you achieve with this type of practising is much higher than you would do on continuous unseen matter dictated in the normal way. The benefit is that you get into the habit of writing quickly, neatly, lightly and evenly, and do away with the habit of slow, uneven or heavy-handed writing. An even rate of writing is the foundation of future speed, which is why it is beneficial to write sentences that you already know, and it also has the effect of calming the mind so that learning is not just one stressful dictation after another. There is a Latin proverb for this Festina lente which means Hurry up slowly, getting a move on in a controlled orderly manner, and without tripping over your own shoelaces and getting nothing done. You will have to be your own judge and jury as to the acceptability of your shorthand. It helps to imagine that someone else will have to read your shorthand, or that you will be marked on it. My plan is to produce more Speed Up pads concentrating on different aspects and some for beginners. I hope this new offering will help to bring up your skill and speed. (891 words)
Short Letters 10 (16 February 2017)
Dear Mr Black, I hope you have* by now received the committee reports and financial statements* which I emailed* to all the members who were* present at last months meeting. The directors are very happy to see such an improvement in our situation and the success of our new venture with the refurbished showroom in the north of the county. I welcome your comments and suggestions on the issues* we talked about, which I will include in the report that I will be writing, in preparation for the consultation with the accountants next month. Your sincerely, Mr White, Company Secretary (100 words)
* Omission phrase "I (h)ope you have" "who (w)ere"
* "emailed" Insert first vowel, as it is similar to "mail"
* "issues" If you prefer the pronunciation "ishoos" use Ish and a dash vowel, not the U diphthong
Dear Miss Gray, I am responding to your email* of yesterday about the items of clothing you ordered in our North Road store last week. I am sorry that there has been a delay in obtaining these for you. I confirm that the discounted price will remain the same for your purchase, until the items arrive. Thank you for being willing to wait and I am sure the items will be to your satisfaction. If there is likely to be any further hold-up in deliveries from the warehouse to our shop, then I will contact you again. Yours sincerely*, Debbie (100 words)
* "email" Insert first vowel, as it is similar to "mail"
* Omission phrase "Yours si(n)cerely", with downward L to keep the outline compact, despite the final vowel (similarly "necessarily")
Dear Miss Greystone, I hope you are* well and you are enjoying seeing the sights of the city on your three month touring ticket that you purchased from us last year. I am writing to offer you the opportunity of buying an extension for another three or six months, at a discount of fifty percent* over the normal price. This offer is not open to new members to the scheme at present, as we want to make sure our existing members have the first choice. Please reply by phone or email* if you wish to take advantage of this saving. (100 words)
* Omission phrase "I (h)ope you are"
* "fifty percent" Personal choice whether you use this or numerals and a P stroke, whichever is faster without losing clearness
* "email" Insert first vowel, as it is similar to "mail"
Dear Mrs* Greenham, Our Walking Club has now been operating for five years, during which time our membership has grown considerably and we are delighted that people are choosing to join us on our walks through the lovely countryside and villages of the area. We have received* so many requests from further afield, that we are considering opening another branch, to keep numbers lower for each walk. We are holding a club meeting on the tenth of next month* and I invite you to come and join in the discussions about this exciting possibility*. We look forward* to seeing you. (100 words)
* "Mrs" Not using Ses Circle, as that would be "misses"
* Omission phrases "We have (re)ceived" "ne(k)s(t mon)th" "look fo(r)ward"
* "possibility" Optional contraction
Dear Miss Brownley*, This letter* is to confirm your appointment as Junior* Reporter in our sports department*. Please report to this office at 9.30 a.m. on Monday first of March. Your first trainee assignment will be to accompany Mr Stevens to the headquarters* of the local tennis club around mid-morning and you will both produce your reports during the afternoon. As a senior reporter, Mr Stevens is very well* placed to coach you in your first steps, and I hope* this will be the beginning of a long and happy career for you in the world of sports reporting. (100 words)
* "Brownley" Names need all their vowels written in, compare "Brownhill" or "Brownlow"
* "this letter" Downward L to enable the phrase to be made
* "sports department" Avoiding intersecting a half length stroke, as the result would be less clear and with no advantage
* "headquarters" Alternative outline, omitting the R and using doubling instead, to gain a faster outline
* Omission phrase "very (w)ell" "I (h)ope"*
Dear James, As I mentioned to you last week*, Miss Brownley* will be coming to start work with us next month*. She will be accompanying you on several of your assignments, so that she can have first-hand experience of the job, and so that we can get a good idea of her abilities. At the end of the week I will see you both for an appraisal of how things went, and we can then allocate some jobs to her for the future. I know your knowledge will be of great benefit to her as she starts her journalism* career. (100 words)
* Omission phrase "las(t w)eek" "ne(k)s(t mon)th"
* "Brownley" see para above
* "journalism" Optional contraction
Dear Mr Redman, Thank you for sending* through the architects report on the plans for our new house in Mill Road. I have a few amendments to make and would like you to arrange an appointment for us both to meet at your offices. I have several sample pictures of how I would like the side extension to look. I can be available any time as long as I have a days notice. There will also be a few changes to the landscaping* plan but I understand that this does not have to be finalised until later in the year. (100 words) (Total 787 words)
* "sending" Note that "sending the report" and "signing the report" could look similar, so "signing" should always have the diphthong written in
* "landscaping" It is the halved L that is in position above the line, so it does not matter where the stroke P ends up
RAF Badges (18 February 2017)
Pembroke Dock Memorial Window
www.griffon.clara.net/rafh/sqns.htm RAF Heraldry Trust Badges List
* "winged" Ensure the Ing is clearly thick, otherwise this could look like "window"
* "seize" This is the same outline as "cease", also a verb, and would need a note if you felt it needed distinguishing, maybe a wiggly underline, or letter Z in the margin
* "question" Optional contraction
* "naught" Insert the vowel and ensure it is clearly thick, as "not" would also make sense. "Naught" means "nothing" and "nought" means the numeral zero.
* "At first sight" In full, as it is a motto, although this can be an omission phrase - see www.long-live-pitmans-shorthand.org.uk/phrasing3-theory.htm#NonUseOfShortForm
Vidi Vici - I saw, I conquered
* "transcribe" Omits the R, to make it less like "describe"
* Omission phrase "you (w)ere"
This article is dedicated to my own RAF forebear of WW2, shot down in flames with only his identity disc returned home, but recorded and honoured in the RAF Memorial Book at York Minster.
Instructor Phrases Section 1 (24 February 2017)
(See Sep 2016 for Instructor Phrases Intro)
These sentences practise the phrases* given in Advanced Phraseography* Section 1 on page 193 of the Instructor. Despite the chapter heading, these are hardly advanced, but just normal joinings and a few omission ones. Those in Sections 2 to 7 (for which blogs will be done later) start to use the shortening devices, then progress to leaving out syllables and finally omitting whole words, so the lists are progressive. They are all line length sentences so that you can repeat each one down the notepad page, with each line getting smoother and easier than the last as your hand gets used to writing the phrases. I would suggest that you write the lines at a comfortable speed with an emphasis on neatness and an even rate of writing, and then later on put on some speed once they are familiar.
* "phrases" In another context, inserting the vowel would be advisable, as this could look like "verses"
* "Phraseography" It is barely possible to show the R hook, by making the circle taller, but the outline would be recognisable anyway
I think you will find that you get your favourite phrases and use them regularly, and you can then take on more that are formed on the same principles. Hesitating while trying* to recall a phrase is counterproductive. Most phrasing consists of the small grammatical words that naturally fall into groups. Even so, if the outlines cannot be joined, then a phrase should not be forced, although an alternative form for an outline can sometimes be used to make a phrase possible. If there is* a pause in speech, then phrasing over it should be avoided, as the spaces between outlines are also an indication of how it was spoken, and this helps you to read back correctly. By the time you have worked through the entire shorthand course book, I am sure you will have a feel for good phrasing, and can resist being led astray by the temptation to use it excessively. Phrasing, like power, strength and money, makes a good servant but a bad master.
* "trying" No triphone, as the "I" sound is included in the Dot Ing
* "If there is" You can double for "if there" but not "for there", this ensures they are never misread for each other
* Omission phrases "as much as (w)ere" "as it (w)ere" "I fee(l) sure"
* "performed" It is essential here to indicate the past tense (even though many contractions give no separate form for it) as present or past would both make sense in this sentence. A short dash struck through the last stroke of a contraction (not of a normal outline) is the quickest way, or you could write the outline in full.
* "I am certain" Compare the omission phrase for "mos(t) certain" which uses Ses circle
* Omission phrase "on the oth(er) side of" "there (w)ere"
* Omission phrase "on the oth(er h)and" "who (w)ere" "of those who (w)ere"
* "we don't" Essential to insert the vowel sign, as without it this would be "we do not"
* "I think it is necessary" Using halving for "it" makes a quicker phrase than the full version shown in Instructor
* "who should" Note "who" is written downwards, "should" upwards
* Omission phrase "I am (in)clined to think" Having "to" in the middle or end of a phrase is best avoided, as it looks like "of", but here it cannot be mistaken
* Omission phrase "I am very glad (to) s(ay) that"
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)
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