Steno 101: How to Do It
Steno 101: Lesson Zero
Steno 101: Lesson One
Steno 101: Lesson Two
Steno 101: Lesson Three
Steno 101: Lesson Four
If you've gotten this far, you have progressed from Plover Hatchling
to Plover Fledgling.
Congratulations! Keep at it, and you'll be zooming around in no time.
Yes, another installment of the Steno 101 Series! It's been a while, huh? I've been sitting on this one for a while because it's tough for me to calibrate how much information to deliver in each lesson, and which aspects of steno to focus on first. The first few lessons were fairly easy, because they just introduced the steno keyboard, which is universal to all stenographic theories. As the lessons go along, though, I'm forced to choose between various schools of thought while giving a certain amount of fair play to the methods I don't use. Many books could be written on the differences between theories, and no two implementations of a theory are alike; each stenographer adapts their theory to their own preferences. The best I can do is to tell you how I made my choices over the course of learning steno and developing my dictionary, and hopefully that'll help you to understand the choices you'll be obliged to make as you go along.
So now you know how to write all the letters on both sides of the keyboard, and you can write tons of simple words, like "clock" (KHROBG) and "vowel" (SROUL). But how would you write something like "trash" or "bench" or "pitch"? When a word begins with Sh- or Ch-, you write them with SH- or KH-, which is relatively intuitive. But when they end in -sh, you use -RB, and when they end in -ch (or -tch), you use -FP. Why? No particular reason; you've now entered into the realm of steno conventions, which inhabits the middle space between the hard and fast rules common to all stenographers and the "arbitraries", "short forms", or "briefs", which are so numerous and unbound by theory that many of them are used by only a single stenographer in the world.
-FP and -RB are on the standard side of the steno convention spectrum and used pretty universally, as far as I can tell. There are quite a few more that are commonly accepted across a wide range of theories. Several of the consonant clusters I use in this chapter, though, are used in only one or two theories, and some I came up with myself through trial and error. Entries following these rules are all pretty well represented in the Plover default dictionary, but if you look at other dictionaries or steno theory books, you probably won't find all of them there.
Consonant clusters, in no particular order:
-PBLG -- "-dge", as in edge, badge, or Raj.
-FRB -- "-rve", as in nerve or serve
-FRPB -- "-rch" or "-nch", as in perch, bench, or crunch. Usually this works fine for both consonant clusters; it isn't necessary to specifically distinguish which one you mean. The only exception that comes to mind is "lunch" and "lurch", which I solve by writing lunch "HRUPBS".
-RBS -- "-tious, -cious, -xious", As in delicious, obnoxious, precious.
-*T -- "-th", as in fifth, plinth, or bath.
-*PL -- "-mp", as in plump or lamp.
-*LG -- "-lk", as in milk, whelk, or balk.
-FT -- "-st", as in taste, blast, or boost.
F is used frequently to serve as an S or S sound in the middles of words; SPAFPL is spasm. TKPWHRAFS is glasses. KIFG is kissing. But since F already serves double duty as both F and V, it can sometimes be tricky to handle, as in paves/paces, braves/braces, proves/process, laughs/laves/lasses, et cetera. Usually F as S gets lower priority (takes the asterisk or requires a extra stroke) compared to F as F or F as V. More on this in subsequent lessons.
-GS -- "-tion, -cian, -cean, -sion, -gion,", as in notion, ocean, passion, fashion, Titian, fission, elision, region, physician.
It's also used for literal -gs endings when there's no confusion (there's another one! KAUN-FAOUGS); since the word "bession" doesn't exist, you can use BEGS for "begs", but "PIGS" is reserved for "pigeon", and if you want "pigs" you're going to have to do it in two strokes (PIG/-S) or with sthe -Z key (PIGZ).
-BGS -- "-ction", as in faction, traction, constriction, diction.
Now, as you remember, -BGS is also -X, so you'll need to distinguish those sounds from one another when necessary. There are two schools of thought here. One is to decide that all -BGS words without the asterisk are -x words and if you want them to become -ction words, you have to put the asterisk in. This has the virtue of consistency, but it also requires more use of the asterisk than some people like (though you'll see as Steno 101 goes along that I'm quite a fan of the asterisk myself, and encourage its use for all sorts of purposes). The other way is to give the least common word the asterisk. So if "faction" is used more often than "fax", it'll be spelled TPABGS, but if "fix" is used more often than "fiction", you'll have to spell the latter "TP*EUBGS". Plover's default dictionary uses the "less common word gets asterisk" method, so you'll either have to memorize which word of each pair goes with which mapping, or you'll have to change them to suit your own preferences.
There are a few more consonant clusters that come up now and then, but these are the most frequently used, and they should be plenty to work on for now. In the next lesson I'll talk about prefixes and suffixes and give you some more principles for creating briefs and resolving homophone conflicts.
Finally, let me give you briefs for a few of the most common words used in steno, according to the hit counter of my steno dictionary. I told you about some of these in Lesson Zero, but then I wrote them in pseudocode, and now that you know all the keys on the keyboard, you're able to read and write them in actual steno.
-T = the
SKP = and (APBD can also be used, but it's more awkward due to the finger stretch)
TO = to
U = you
-F = of
AEU = a
THA = that
T- = it
S- = is
TPH = in
EU = I
SO = so
TH = this
T-S = it's
WAOE = we
SR = have
PWUT = but
TPOR = for
WHA = what
THE = they
R- or -R = are
OPB = on
TPHOT = not
PWAUS = because
TP = if
-B = be
TKO = do
W- = with
TKOEPBT = don't
-FT = of the
OR = or
PW = about
WAS = was
WUPB = one
K- = can
I know that so far this series hasn't had nearly enough practice material or exercises, and I'm going to try to fix that when I go back to revise the first three lessons. Of course, when the Steno Tutorial video game gets written, it'll offer tons of practice opportunities with realtime feedback, but until we're able to start working on it, you'll have to put yourself through your own paces. After posting this I'll start working on some exercises using what you've learned up to this point, and hopefully I'll be able to post them in the next week or so, but I really wanted to get this lesson up and out. With luck, the next one won't be so long in coming.