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It's amazing to me how much authors of stenographic materials love to talk about stenography. The words from this 1905 piece are still valid today. I've always said "Accuracy before Speed." I particularly like the line, "It does not help the stenographer to write rapidly and then mutilate it when the transcript is made." Ouch but so true!
Shorthand Instructor, Pitman’s Shorthand, Isaac Pitman, 1905, p. 263-265
Demand for Stenographers
A stenographer able to write accurately one hundred and twenty-five words a minute, operate the typewriter accurately at a fair speed, and who has a good common school English education is always reasonably certain of a good office position at a good salary. But stenographers should understand that it is not shorthand and typewriting alone that are in demand nor is speed the only desideratum. It makes no difference how rapidly a lightning calculator adds a column of figures if the result is wrong—in fact, it had better not be added at all. It does not help the stenographer to write rapidly and then mutilate it when the transcript is made. Accuracy is the first essential and then get just as much speed as it is possible while maintaining accuracy.
The trouble with the average stenographer is that he does not understand enough about English to know whether he is writing sense or nonsense and, if he is unable to read his notes, he substitutes something which does not convey the idea of the dictator and probably does not convey any idea at all. The stenographer, like the young man in business, should keep his eyes and ears open, notice the drift of current events, read the newspapers, read good books, and extend his vocabulary as much as possible. No one, no matter what position in life, can make a pronounced success who never learns anything except when told of it. Reading, study, and observation will do more than teachers and schools. Experience alone will oftentimes send some people backwards, because by experience they frequently learn many things that are not so.
The average businessman is improving in his business methods, his dictation, and his English (and for this thanks are due, we think, largely to the business schools and commercial departments), and he does not care particularly to have his dictated copy edited by the stenographer. He is satisfied if the stenographer is able to translate the hieroglyphics and get the copy as he dictated it. The average businessman has a vocabulary sufficiently extensive, and one that will cause the average young stenographer to consult the dictionary quite frequently. And, by the way, the dictionary habit is a good one. The trouble with many people is that they do not consult the dictionary enough and, when they do, if they discover it does not spell the words as they are accustomed to spell them, they give up in despair.
As a summary, we would say read, study, observe, and consult the dictionary, become an expert in business philology, and your shorthand and typewriting may take care of themselves.—Penman’s Art Journal
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