July 9, 2009


Not these kinds of briefs! LOL!
I stumbled upon the below FABULOUS info from fellow court reporting student, Keith Rowan, II, on one of CSR Nation's groups, Court Reporting Students. His article below was so great and useful that I begged him for permission to post it on this blog, so others can benefit from his practical wisdom on the philosophy and practice of briefing words and phrases. Thankfully, he agreed! :) So the below is by West Valley College court reporting student, Keith Rowan, II, which he entitles "How to Brief: Philosophy and Practice." If you want to contact him, you may email him at keithrowan1978@yahoo.com
P.S. If YOU would like to submit any helpful info for other court reporting students, please contact me. I'd love to feature your work here, so together we can spread the blessings! :) And now for the Brief Primer...
Keith Rowan II 180 student at West Valley College, Saratoga, CA keithrowan1978@yahoo.com
How to Brief – Philosophy and Practice
To brief or not to brief? We all vary in how much we use briefs, but I think every reporter will admit they brief at least a little. We all have at least a few basic briefs we learned in theory class or briefing methods, such as not writing out things like unaccented syllables, for example. Let’s say you want to increase your use of briefs and learn to remember them easily. How is this possible? The best briefs come from you, yourself. I know many students and reporters who say that they cannot remember or learn briefs. Do not give up! You are capable! Often, it is because it is difficult to remember a brief someone else gives you. However, if you came up with the brief on your own naturally, you will think of it again. Your fingers will go there automatically. These “natural” briefs are the ones that stick, often with little or no practice. So how do you come up with briefs? The best way is to clear your mind, and say, “Okay. When I hear this word, what is the first thought that comes to my mind of how to one-stroke it?” Recently, I wanted a brief for redirect, and DRAOEK immediately came to mind. It works, and I have no problems remembering it. I often come up with similar briefs on the fly, and you can too, with practice. Another good way to get the natural way to write something is to sit at your machine and say the word to yourself and just stroke it. Sounds too easy to work, but trust me. Tell yourself it is a matter of life and death and you have to quickly think of a one-stroke brief. Then, simply write whatever your subconscious directs your fingers to hit. Do not think! Whatever you hit is the natural way for you and therefore easy to remember. It is better to think of briefs as hand positions than English letters anyway. The more you do this technique, and the more briefing concepts floating in your subconscious, the easier this becomes. If these methods don’t work, the next step is to try to think of a good brief consciously. Here are a few general points to keep in mind when you begin briefing. 1) Keep briefs in consistent families. If you can remember one, you will remember them all if they flow from each other. For example, inform is N-F, informant is N-FT, and information is N-FGS. I always think of every word I can in that family, so that I can make sure my method works for the entire family. 2) Short theory principles help much more than individual briefs for random words. For example, learn how to do (–MP) and (–RCH) on the right side, rather than learn a brief for a random word. 3) Always or nearly always do inflected endings on the same stroke. I recommend (–D) for “ed,” (-G) for “ing,” and (–Z) for plurals. The (-Z) instead of (-S) keeps your briefs more conflict-free and frees the (–S) up for other briefs. However, when the word ends in (–T), you will have to use (–S). You can’t reach the (–Z) on those. This also allows me to use (–S) for possessives. I can even do a few in one stroke, such as (PLF-S) = plaintiff’s, (J-S) = judge’s, (DR-S) = doctor’s 4) Keep briefs as short and simple as possible. If they are too hard to stroke, they are useless. Shorter ones are easier to remember, anyway. Now, let’s go over some specific briefing techniques that I use. 1) Squeeze the word -- Try to say it really fast and see what comes out, or try to use the main beginning and ending consonants of the word. Examples (these use some letter combos you can frequently squeeze, like DM- KM- DL-): DLAOENT = delinquent DLAOENS = delinquency DMOET = demote DMOEGS = demotion KMOEGS = commotion KMARND = commander HAOIFL = hypothetical HAOIFS = hypothesis 2) Change the vowels. The “OI” and “AE” steno vowels are frequently unused in words. Many people brief their “way” family (freeway, roadway, etc) as FROI, ROI or FRAE, RAE, etc. These vowels are great for lots of other briefs though. Some examples: MOIK = motorcycle, BOIK = bicycle, LOISD = like I said WAE = weigh, BAE or BOIT= by the way, SAERN = ascertain If switching the vowels doesn’t work, leave all vowels out. The brief will usually be readable. I brief many words without any vowels, such as: K-RJ = charge, PR-NT = precedent, PR-V = prove, STR-N = restrain, ST-V = substantive, ST-D = standard Often, this method makes the word much easier to stroke and helps avoids conflicts. 3) Learn as many different theory principles as you can. Here are some combinations I use on the left hand. (SF) = inf, inv, enf, env SFAOER = inferior SFAOIT = invite (KB) = emp, emb, imp, imb KBROR = emperor KBANL = impanel (SPW) = int, ent, ind, end SPW = interest SPWENT = intent (SD) = dis, des SDORT = distort SDERT = desert (S*) = Z SAO* = zoo SAOIFL* = xylophone (ha, ha) (DW) = div, dev, dif, def DWORS = divorce DWAOUZ = diffuse (KW) = conv, conf KWERGS = conversion KWAOID = confide And here are some right-hand combos. (-FRP) = mp DAFRP = damp KLUFRP = clump (-FRPBLG) = nch IFRPBLG = inch KWIFRPBLG = quench (again, finger position, not English! Use the first three fingers.) (AUFP) = arch STAUFP = starch PAUFMT = parchment (“Dracula” pronunciation) (OIFP) = rch (except arch) LOIFP = lurch BOIFP = birch POIFP = porch (I call this the “Brooklynese” method – speak like you’re from the Big Apple) (-LGTS) = tle SHULGTS = shuttle TAOILGTS = title (-LGDZ) = dle MILGDZ = middle HURLGDZ = hurdle (*S) = st BUS* = bust KAS* = cast (*T) = th BAT* = bath YAOUT* = youth 4) Tuck common endings. It’s out of the sequence of the word but becomes second nature with a little practice. You can tuck the “V” (*F) for “ive” endings. You form the stroke for the root word first, then simply reach up for the “V” before you let go of the keys. It gets faster over time. Examples: DEVK = detective, SUVJ = subjective, N-V = informative (using DEK, SUJ, and N-F for the root words) You can also tuck (-L) for “ly.” For example, PRENLT = presently. To avoid confusion and dragging in the (–L) when you mean to just hit PRENT, you can usually drop the (–T) for the “ly” form. Examples: PRENL = presently, SKWENL = subsequently Also, tuck (–R) for “er.” Since mast is MAS* then master is MARS*. PAIRNT = painter. You can also add (E) for “er” if (-R) is already in the word. So WOERK is worker, and PAERK is Parker. The (E) can also be used to tuck the –ly or-y endings, such as STAERBL for substantially, KAER for carry, and WOER for worry. Tuck (–T) for “ed” when you already have (–D). So KHAOITD is chided, KLAOITD is collided. The main conflict to resolve is RORTD for reported/recorded. Tuck (–N) for “en.” So TAOINT = tighten, BAOENT = beaten When a word begins with “a”, tuck it into the outline. Examples: BAED = abide, BAORT = abort, LAON = alone, LAON* = loon, BRAER = arbitrary Tuck (–F) for “s” in words (they have the same sound almost). This works for words ending in “sm” or “sk” or “sten” and also for adding “ing.” Examples: KHAFM = chasm, DUFK = dusk, HAIFN = hasten, SKUFG = discussing. 5) Use the asterisk as more than an accursed deletion tool. It is your friend. This is yet another way that can be used for endings like “ly” when you already have the (-L) in the word, or just “y” endings. Examples: SUN* = sunny, LEG* = leggy, KARBL* = casually, PARBL* = partially You can also use the asterisk for “ing” when you can’t fit it. Example: –KT is account, *KT is accounting. Of course, the asterisk is also used to differentiate the lesser common word or phrase of a conflict pair. An official might write MERJ for “members of the jury” and MERJ* for “merge.” I also use it for things like LAURNS for “Lawrence” and LAURNS* for “Lawrence Expressway.” 6) Make good use of your (–S) and (–Z). Examples: PALS = palace, PALZ = pals; MENS = menace, MENZ = men’s; GLASZ = glasses, SGLASZ = sunglasses; SIRSZ = scissors. 7) Finally, if none of these work or don’t work quickly and automatically, use the tried and true method of double-stroking the first syllable. This is great for proper names. It’s best for names that come up repeatedly that you will for sure remember or figure out later. Sometimes we simply can’t think of a brief for a word by ourselves. Don’t despair; there are many great resources for briefs. Besides friends and online forums, I use the following resources: “Brief Encounters” by Laurie Boucke, “The Brief Machine” on www.stenolife.com, the “StenoMaster Theory” and “Magnum Steno” books and online club managed by Mark Kislingbury, and of course, the Brief-It feature of Case Catalyst. Other software has similar features. All of these are incredible! What is more helpful than briefing words is briefing phrases, especially for those going into court or depositions. Here are some of my most indispensable testimony phrases that I have written thousands of times. YO = I don’t, YA = I can’t, YU = I couldn’t, YI = I didn’t (to these, you add phrase parts that I will touch on briefly next, such as (–RL) for “recall” and (–RM) for “remember”), THART = that is right, THAKT = that is correct, THAEKT = that’s correct, THAERT= that’s right, YAEKT = yes, that’s correct, YAERT = yes, that’s right, STHAR = is that right (I leave off the (–T) to avoid confusing it with “that is right”), STHARK = is that correct (again, I avoid the (–T)), YITD = yes, I did, YIFS = yes, I was, NINT = no, I didn’t, NAONT = no, I do not, NOENT = no, I don’t. To be a phrase master, you use phrase parts. You have these on the left hand for the words that begin phrases and then on the right hand for the ends of phrases. When you keep them consistent and practice them, they are easy to remember and stroke. Here are some of the many that I use. Left hand – If (F-) examples: FUTD = if you did, FIFS = if I was, FIFL = If I feel In (TPH-) examples: N-T = in the, NAK = in that case, NIRM = in this matter Now that you sort of see the pattern, I’ll just put the phrase parts without the examples. If you have questions or would like examples, please feel free to email me at the address below. Is = (S), As = (S*), It = (T), This = (TH), That = (THA), There = (THR), Are = (R), Did= (D), Do = (DAO), Can = (K), Could = (KAO), Would = (WAO), Should = (SHAO), Will = (L), And = (SKP -), About = (B), Ask = (SK), Go = (G-), What = (WA), Where = (WR), Why = (KWR), Who = (WHO), Which = (KH), Before = (BR), I do = (AO), Too = (TAO), For = (FR), From = (FRO), Some = (SM) And here are some of the right-hand phrase parts to add on the end of the ones we just used on the left hand. Was = (-FS), Were = (-RP), The = (-T), It = (*T), Of = (-F), Much = (-FP), Had = (-D), Did = (-TD), Want = (-FRPB), Want to = (-FRPBT), Say = (-S), Says = (-SZ), Said = (-SD), See = (-Z), Saw = (-FZ), Think = (NG*), Thought = (-LGT), Know = (-N), Believe (-BL), Recall =(-RL), Remember = (-RM), Explain = (-X), Accident (-X also), Be = (-B), Agree = (-RG), Feel =(-FL), Felt = (-FLT), Go = (-G), Find = (-FD), Can = (-K), Could = (-KD), Should = (-RBD), Would = (-LD), Will = (-L), Did = (-TD), Side = (-DZ), Little = (-LGTS), That = (-LGTS also), This = (-TSDZ), Her = (ER), His = (IZ), Him = (IM), Your = (UR), Me = (-M), My = (*M) So simply take the phrase parts from the left hand, add the ones from the right, and voila, thousands of everyday phrases! I write most of the above words the same when they stand alone, but not all. To add the human pronouns, I use (I), (U), (WE), (THE) for they, (E) for he (less conflicts than HE), and (SHE) for she, or (-RB) if she is the ending word. Not all of the above phrases make sense looking at the English, but remember, it’s about finger positioning. Try them and you will probably like most! Also, there are a few conflicts here and there but largely, the words these conflict with are not common (you’ll write “will you go” much more than “lug”). Use the asterisk to stroke the other words. Nearly every question and answer you ever write will use multiple of these above phrases. Finally, for those of you who are advanced brief whizzes, do you employ extended questions and answers? This is where you write part of the question or answer in with the designation stroke. So you could write Y-FRPBLGTS for (A)Yes or STKPWHR-RT for (Q)Right. This is a bit tricky, and I am still trying to master it, but it can be very helpful. I only feel it to be helpful in certain circumstances. If it is unnatural to hit, or if you are breaking up natural briefs that follow, it isn’t worth it. For example, the question is “did you go there” I would write Q/DUG/THR- (Q = STKPWHR)) If I tried to do the extension, it would be Q-TD/UG/THR Since “did you go” is so much more natural than “did,” “you go” -- it’s not worth it. So for questions, I mainly use the extension concept for “filler words.” As you may have found, many attorneys put words like “right,” “all right,” “okay,” and “so” in front of nearly every single question. You can drag these into the (Q) stroke naturally and not break up the phrases that follow. Q-LT = (Q)All right. Q-RT = (Q)Right. Q-S = (Q) So Q-OK or Q-K = (Q)Okay. Q-ND = (Q)And For answers, I mostly do it for “yes” and “no.” These are so common, thankfully. Y-ANS = (A)Yes (ANS = -FRPBLGTS) N-ANS = (A)No I found a way to increase the effectiveness of these. When I throw in my asterisk, it brings the next question symbol in. So when the answer is a one-word, yes-or-no answer, I now have gotten three separate strokes down to one. Y*ANS = (A)Yes.(Q) N*ANS = (A)No.(Q) With nervous or demure witnesses who always say “yes” or “no” only, you can breeze right through. Good luck and be brief! Keith Rowan II 180 student at West Valley College, Saratoga, CA keithrowan1978@yahoo.com


Roberta Waters said...

Thank you for sharing this article. It was insightful and helpful.

Linda Taylor said...

I just found your post but it's still quite useful. Thanks for posting.

By: VintageVerses of Etsy.com