*, D, and Z

The last couple keys on the main part of the board are off the main layout and will require some lateral (side-to-side) movement from your fingers to reach them. It's best not to shift your whole hand, as you don't want all your fingers to get out of place.

The keys used in this lesson include those used in previous lessons, plus:

  • * - * DZ
  • 4 - 4 11

STKPWHRAO*EUFRPBLGTSDZ

The numbers show the fingers for each key, where 1's are the pinkies and 5 are the thumbs.

The Asterisk (*)

Your keyboard may have multiple asterisks, up to four, or just one. As long as you can hit the asterisks with either index finger, you should be fine. The asterisk can be hit alone, or in conjunction with its neighboring keys. That is why often the gap between the asterisk key and -FR tends to be smaller than the gaps between other columns.

Most stenographers hit the asterisk key exclusively with their right hand, but you can feel free to only use your left hand, or use them interchangeably. The left hand tends to do less in steno (responsible for only 9 keys instead of the right's 12) so you might consider learning to use a left-side asterisk.

In stenography the asterisk is always used to undo the last stroke. In Plover theory, it is used for various purposes. It can be used to make certain sounds, resolve ambiguous strokes, fingerspell, and is often used as a briefing tool.

Each of those topics will be covered. For now, if you ever see a lone asterisk in a text or paper tape, it cancels the chord proceeding it. For example, KAT S PUG * KAT will end up with the same output as KAT S KAT, and on screen the word "pug" will be shown then removed.

The -D and -Z Keys

The D and Z keys are hit using the right pinky. They can be used alone, or in combinations such as TD, SZ, or DZ.

Pressing down the -SD or -TZ Keys

Because the pinky is only one finger, you cannot hit SD or TZ because they are diagonal from each other. Some theories have you move your hand over and use your ring finger (called a "Philly shift") but Plover doesn't use this trick. The pinky can hit the entire TSDZ bank, but it is extremely rare in Plover Theory.

Past Tense

In English, many words end in -D when they are conjugated in the past tense. In stenography, we can include -D in words to make them past tense. For example, TAP is "tap" while TAPD is "tapped". If a word cannot "fit" the -D key, either due to the pinky being occupied with -S or -Z, or because the word already ends in -D, we can strike -D alone as a second chord. In this lesson, -D will only be used in single chords, either as part of the word or to make a chord past tense.

Plurals

Phonetically, plural words in English end with an "s" (puts) or a "z" (bugs) sound. In Plover Theory, we use both -S or -Z for plurals. Often, both work, and for that reason you should be inclined to reach for -S first because it is closer. However, sometimes the -S is used in another way by the word and you will need to use -Z to make it plural. This will be trial and error until you start to notice when -Z is required. So TAP is "tap" and TAPS and TAPZ are both "taps".

Briefs

This lesson only introduces a few briefs. They are similar, so they will require care to remember correctly. The briefs starting with TH- below are good examples of very common words that had their ending chopped off to save effort on the stenographer's part. The briefs also make room for more complex strokes that you will learn in later lessons.

Translation Notes
TH this
THA that
THE they
WHA what
UD you'd

How to Practice

Play close attention to the meaning of the sentence in order to ensure you have understood it correctly. Because -D can be used in multiple ways (to end a word, like "card", or to make a verb past tense, like "scarred"), you may interpret an outline wrong the first time. It's okay, just make a mental note and see if you can notice any patterns. Understanding the consistency in how your theory solves certain language-related issues will help you when you develop and personalize your own dictionary as you grow as a stenographer.

Practice

1. Translate

Write the English sentence represented by these outlines, including punctuation.

  1. T WAZ HARD TO -B HER TP-PL
  2. TH S HAF -T STAF SHE HAZ TP-PL
  3. UD -B WHA THE R H-F
  4. TH S WAR TP-PL
  5. THA RAT S SO WET STPH-FPLT HUG HER TP-PL
  6. SHE PATD -T WET RAT TP-PL
  7. HE K HED TO -T KAR W HER TP-PL

2. Find Outlines

Find steno outlines that will write these English sentences, including punctuation.

  1. He stopped the soft pug at the top of the steps.
  2. She pulled the cart.
  3. What is this?
  4. She can pet the cat, pug, and rat.
  5. They are roughed up.
  6. That is, well, that is part of it.

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