I hope this makes some sense, but here goes...

If one writes as fast as a speaker, given the contextual nature of the english language, as well as hononyms and the like, how does one get to phrase? Phrasing is by definition groups of words and have to be heard as such and recognized as such in order to be written as such, which implies a need to trail a speaker.

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I do always stay on the speaker, and I haven't ever found it to be a problem.

I even will drop more fingers down as the words come out, BUT usually there's a couple-word distance there where it just isn't a problem. That, I think, is still staying on the speaker.

I LOVE my phrases. Definitely my favorite part of writing.
If one were to stay on the speaker 100% of the time and inherently have never dropped in their life, then phrasing would be pointless, yes.
Phrasing is a great catch-up tool. That's for sure.

Even though I've never EVER dropped in my life. HA!
I am probably not the best person to reply to this discussion. I am just now (Thanks to Mark's words of wisdom) breaking my habit of trailing rather far behind the speaker. I have found that I can still use briefs and phrases while staying right on the speaker because when I hear a word (or the beginning syllable of a word) that I think might have a phrasing or briefing opportunity, I have that little extra tidbit of time to kind of pause and wait for what is coming next.

Hope that makes sense. :)
I find that some speakers are so fast, that no matter how good you are you can't get so close to lose your phrasing ability. Don't forget SMALL WORD phrases like to a, as a, as the, with the, for a, try to be, had to go, if you want to, I didn't get, etc. - those are said SO fast I'd be HUGELY surprised if you have written the first word before they say the second word, when the speaker is fast.

My guess is that 99% of court reporters do NOT phrase the small-word phrases (and ones like them) that I have mentioned above.
Is there a small word phrasing page in the Magnum steno book? Or is there a videotape with those to practice to in the archives?
Rhoda, got a kick out of your question. The Magnum Steno book has 214 pages of small word phrases. There are 3 pages filled with just a list of the phrase endings that Mark has come up with. Anyone who thinks they can't afford his book just doesn't realize how much information there is in it -- invaluable IMHO.
LOL!!!! I have had it for several months...was just looking for a 'page' for those he mentioned, lol. I'll get motivated and look myself. ;) It IS an awesome book!!!!
Staying right on the speaker is important. This is the best way to write. I think the word "trail" needs to be defined in the sense that, yes, you will be a little behind the speaker, just due to the nature of the delay between hearing the words and then writing them. But waiting for a combination of words to be spoken so that you can phrase is a bad idea.

Mark does an instructional video -- can't remember which one or the date right now -- (Mark, maybe you could post it) -- but the visual is great. He is demonstrating a method of striking the keys right as the words are spoken, and he is using his fingers to demonstrate and write "in the air." He challenges you to write the words before he does. THIS IS GREAT! If you haven't watched this instructional video, it is a MUST SEE.
I for one am COMPLETELY unable to trail very far behind the speaker. Usually 1-2 words is about all I can trail behind without things getting messy. I do use briefs and phrases in my writing, but I tend to be kind of picky because I have trouble remembering them at times and if you spend too much time trying to remember a brief for a word, then 15 more have sailed by and you're behind again. I was worried at first about the whole "repeating in your head" thing that some reporters do especially when first starting out, but thanks to the video on Magnum Steno, I realized I was just hearing the speaker's own voice and not my own repeating in my head. *Whew* I don't need any more voice in there right now, thank you! Ok so that's my .02 cents! *laughs*
My experience has been that I write the cleanest when I do kind of rubber-band trailing. Most of the time, I'm only a few words behind, but when the speaker decides to go mach 4, I'll turn up the speed gradually until I find the new average speed instead of trying to instantly go two notches faster. I can only do clean realtime if I keep things steady and smooth.

I'll echo what everyone else has said, though... those phrases, even the long ones, fly by in a split second. It may seem like you'd have to stop and wait to phrase "there could have been a" but it'll be done and gone while the speaker goes onto things like "disingenuous", even when you're almost right on top of the speaker :)


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