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    Clickable dictation at various speeds is available at the bottom of this page. The transcript of the dictation appears here as well.

    Same book as last month; I know some of you found that piece rather difficult to transcribe and/or difficult to take down. I tend to think people in 1856 had better vocabularies than we do today as well as a slightly different way of expressing themselves which may account for the difficulties.

    Of course Mr. Soper thinks his system the best. That is completely understandable. Do remember that in 1856 there were no copy machines as we know them today. If you wanted a copy of something, you wrote it again. Educated people learned shorthand to lessen the burden of writing and great debates, as I've said before, ensued as to whose shorthand system was better than the others. Shorthand authors borrowed heavily from their peers so most systems of Mr. Soper's time look amazing like what we call Pitman today. But before Pitman there was the Taylor system which Pitman borrowed from.

    I hope you're all enjoying this venture back in time. . . .

The Practical Stenographer, Ebenezer Soper, 1856, p. V

          Notwithstanding the great and general utility of shorthand writing, it has hitherto been very limited in its application.  This may, perhaps, be accounted for by the circumstance that the many excellent works which have been published on the subject—although adequate to all the wants of accomplished reporters—are yet not sufficiently simple, intelligible, and comprehensive, to interest the young and the public generally.  The following Treatise is intended to meet this deficiency and thereby help to bring the art into more general use among all classes.
          They who are educated and competent to understand the rules will not require the further assistance of a tutor.  Masters of schools may establish classes or youths may form them among themselves and thus mutually assist each other; and, no doubt, by a little study of the contents, that they will be found amply sufficient to give them a thorough practical knowledge of the subject; but, should any further explanations be required, the Author will readily give them in answer to inquiries made by letter.
          Having been instructed in the late Mr. Taylor’s Stenography when at school, the Author can speak, from personal experience, of the great advantage of an early practical acquaintance with the art.  But a perception of the imperfections of that, and all other systems which he consulted, led to his undertaking the present work; and improvements herein have been introduced from time to time, suggested in the course of long practice.
          The peculiar merits on which it is now recommended to public approbation, consist in the following particulars, viz;  It may be written as to be almost as legible as ordinary writing; it contains all the elements and instructions necessary to lead to the highest practical attainments of the art; and, as compared with most other systems, will save much time and labor in writing.

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Instructions for Self-Dictation Practice:
    Copy and paste the above article into a word-processing document, using double or triple spacing and 12- or 14-pitch type.
    As always, be sure to check your shorthand dictionary for correct outlines before "drilling"!

Dictation Practice:
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Gregg Shorthand Pitman Shorthand Speedwriting Shorthand