Top Row

This lesson introduces about half the keyboard: the top row of the keyboard and two vowels.

The keys used in this lesson are:

  • STPH A U FPLT
  • 1234 5 5 4321

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

STPHAUFPLT

Chord Syntax

To denote a chord, note that any of these keys can appear once. If center keys are not present, we add a hyphen to clarify which side the key is on. Lack of a hyphen means the left side.

T or T- is the left-hand T:

STPHAUFPLT

-T is the right-hand T:

STPHAUFPLT

Even when there is no uncertainty, we still denote right-hand keys with a hyphen in front of them unless there's a vowel: -F or AF, but not F. Some conventions always include the hyphen, e.g. A-F, but this is not Plover style.

Phonetics

Shorthand, both written and machine, use phonetics as a core principle. English isn't always the best at having things sound how they spell, and so we have a pretty complex system for spelling. However, English is pretty simple when it comes to the number of sounds we have. For that reason, stenography's simplified layout relies on the sounds of words, not their spelling.

For example, there is no "c" on the steno layout. Because its sounds are accomplished by either "s" or "k", depending on pronouncation. To write "cat", in stenography we write KAT.

Vowel A

The A key represents the relaxed "ah" sound found in "had", "mad", "clad", and "half". Of note, it is not the tense "aye" sound found in "day". PAL always sounds like "pal", not like "pail" or "pale".

Vowel U

The U key tends to sound like "uh" in Plover, or is used sometimes when the word is spelled with "u" (but maybe sounds like something else). This is the sound found in "crud", "shut", "mud", and "curl". It is not the tense "you" sound found in "shoe" or the one in "pure". PUF always sounds like "puff", not like "poof".

Briefs

Briefs are shortcuts in stenography, and an essential component in gaining speed. The word comes from "abbreviation". While steno's base theory is syllabic, you will learn and use many briefs to write long words and phrases very quickly.

The more common a word, the more likely it has a brief. In fact, the first bit of steno theory you are about to learn is about briefs that you can make with just STPHAUFPLT.

Chord Translation Notes
S- is
T- it
H- had
U you The letter "U" is a homophone to "you"
-F of
-T the
TP-PL {.} Period. Next word is capitalized
H-F {?} Question mark. Next word is capitalized.
STPH-FPLT {:} Colon.

*Notice that {} are used to denote a special character in Plover's translation format.

How to Practice

Now that you know some keys, some briefs, and the key orders, you should be able to start reading raw machine shorthand.

For example:

-T PUP SAT TP-PL

Will translate to:

The pup sat.

I recommended you read through the raw steno. Some words will be intuitive, others less so. If you can't identify the word at first glance, try sounding it out. If you still can't figure out an outline, refer back to your brief tables to see if it's explained there. Remember, steno is phonetic so you will find words that are simple in steno but complicated in English spelling. Don't worry, that's an asset, not a problem!

This book does not require you to use your steno machine, but smart students will try writing down all the exercises on their own machine to build muscle memory and reenforce their learning.

Practice

Remember, T- and T are "it" while -T is "the". The hyphen denotes the center of the board.

1. Translate

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

  1. -T HUL S TUF TP-PL
  2. TAP -T SAP TP-PL
  3. PUL -T HUL TP-PL
  4. -T PAL H H T TP-PL
  5. S -T PUP TUF H-F
  6. U STPH-FPLT PUL -T TUF PUP TP-PL
  7. -T HUT H HAF -F -T SALT TP-PL
  8. U H STAF H-F
  9. -T STAF SAT TP-PL

Notice how some examples contains two consonants after each other. Just like in spelling, this is used in steno.

2. Find Outlines

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

  1. The hull is tough.
  2. You sat.
  3. Halt: pull it.
  4. Is it half sap?
  5. It is the shaft.

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