The Lost Consonant
From Fashionable Realtime and reprinted in
the May/99 NCRA Journal of Court Reporting
English is really not unique. It is vignettes
of many languages fused in a colourful and powerful way to create
the commodity that we service. The most striking foreign component
is that of French, and its presence is often taken for granted. For
realtime reporters, one characteristic is the eloquent and sometimes
alarming sound embodied in words such as beige and genre.
to this odd consonant as a sibilant fricative. It appears typographically
as zh or ,
depending on which dictionary you use. If we need to be reminded of
its significance to our work, consider that its frequency among all
of the English sounds is exactly one per cent. This means that on
average we hear and stroke this sound for nearly five full minutes
in every eight hours of writing. To push the boundaries of my illustration,
one solid hour of spoken English at 180 words per minute yields, on
average, 108 occurrences of the zh consonant.
Probably few of
us have ever known a problem with writing zh, but we've all
winced at writing rouge or regime. It is the forgotten
wrinkle in the teaching of shorthand theory. But it's a simple matter,
and just reading this will likely remove its subtle mystique and prevent
hesitation the next time it sneaks into everyday language on the job.
To simplify the
process of translating zh either on your computer or directly
from your notes, you must know it in three positions: beginning words,
ending words, and medially.
Write it in a
new way to prevent conflicts with G and J. For example, genre
might erroneously translate as Jenner or Johner.
A common French male given name is Jean (pronounced zhän),
but you will undoubtedly translate John if you don't have a
method in place. To prevent conflicts with other proper names, it
may be wise to avoid the asterisk. Instead, define a new consonant
such as SDH- to write this finite list: Jacques, (pronounced
zhôk), Jean, gendarme, genre, and je ("I"
for many French expressions, once entered as SDHE, will never conflict
with SKWRE for, say, gentlemen). Now learn to recognize your
new consonant when you see it, put the five words into your regular
dictionary, and be sure to revise your phonetic dictionary to translate
a close phonetic equivalent of your choice, presumably j.
Having 350 ~age
words in English pronounced as "ij" demands that we use
a separate attaching stroke to do the job. Not to confuse that with
the same suffix that's pronounced äzh on French-derived words,
we need to take stock on its population of about 60 and decide whether
it's useful to write words such as corsage with the same suffix
or to devise another. There are no adverse consequences in using the
same stroke; only added mental effort to apply it to two different
sounding suffixes. However, there are about 20 other words that end
in the zh sound, such as beige and prestige,
that mitigate in favour of a unique outline for this consonant in
final position. I highly recommend the steno -JZ for its simplicity
and easy adaptability.
Now define it
in your phonetic dictionary as ge, or better still, zh.
Using this new consonant will make little difference to the translations
of luge or rouge, but a steno outline such as -AJZ certainly
clarifies a long list of words with the äzh suffix, such as
collage, massage, and mirage.
When zh occurs
somewhere within a word, it sometimes takes care of itself, stenotypically
speaking. Thus most ~sia words such as amnesia and ~sion words
such as decision need no special consideration because there
are other ways to identify the sound, e.g., AM /NAOEZ /YA and
TKAOE /SIGS, to render clear outlines that are easy to decipher in
context. But wait. There's more!
To avoid hundreds
of oddities such as as your for azure, Expo sure for
exposure, lease you're for leisure, mesh you are for
measure, and so forth, we must continually tax our memories
with unusual solutions. Stop it! This isn't necessary if instead we
use initial or final zh keys. Doing so means no memorization
and perfect translations for every word defined. Asia, Brezhnikoff,
casual, deja vu, pleasure, regime, and seizure will get
you started, but there are many more.
Honing your realtime
techniques is a simple matter of solving small problems. Taking them
one at a time, as you might with the French zh consonant, is
easy, rewarding, and the sign of a true realtiming professional.
Realtime certainly must be one of the most exhaustive works on the
subject. It is obvious you have spent an awful lot of energy, time and
effort on it.
Realtime for Steno Writers is the best of all the change-your-theory
books I've read, and I think I must have them all. No other book on
the subject is so thorough, so professional, so well researched. On
top of these things, your humorous treatment of such a frustrating and
challenging undertaking makes it seem – dare I say? – fun.
text Fashionable Realtime is a godsend! I have experienced a
distinct improvement in my real-time writing after incorporating some
of the writing suggestions.
this is my kind of book. I've gotten more common sense from it than
I have in five years of trying to fix theory problems from a variety
of other publications.
devoured Fashionable Realtime the minute I received it and recommend
it to all I see. Again, thanks. I have been realtiming for almost 10
years, and FRT says everything I have ever wanted to say in a marvellously
Realtime) is by far the most concise and logically fashioned realtime
book I've seen so far, and I think I've seen them all.
a real fan of Fashionable Realtime in fact, it's on the
bookshelf next to my computer for easy reference and have found
the suggestions and word lists to be incredibly helpful, especially
those dealing with technical prefixes and suffixes.
really must tell you again what a wonderful resource this is for us.
Other realtime books on the market don't even come close. Now that I
have mine, you really ought to raise your prices!!
is incredible !! It's more than I expected. Wow !!
Canyon County CA
you have accomplished with respect to realtime writing is admirable,
to say the least. Fashionable Realtime is I am lost for
words. You have accomplished a very great thing!