Friday, October 31, 2014

Etymology and the Brain, 5

The verb stenograph means to write or report in stenographic (shorthand) characters. So stenography—a combination of Greek words graphic (writing) and stenos (narrow)—is the process of writing in shorthand especially from dictation or oral discourse. It is typically done now using a stenograph, patented in 1879 by Miles Bartholomew, a newspaper reporter. Many court reporters use stenotype machines, trained users being able to input text on a stenotype keyboard as fast as 225 words per minute (the minimum needed to become certified by the National Court Reporters). Digital and audio recordings are being introduced in court rooms, although it may be a very long time before they replace stenotype machines. Outside court rooms, modern day shorthand includes the myriad letter homophones commonly used in texting: ‘btw’ (by the way), ‘lol’ (laugh out loud), and so on. In fact, every person who texts may eventually be considered a stenographer. So, while waiting for an appointment, if I have an iPad, iPhone, or laptop with me and Wi-Fi or 3G is available—I can always delve deeper into Etymology! At the very least I can stimulate my brain with ‘Whirly Word.”

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