How a Stenograph Machine Works
First, we have to look at how a normal keyboard that someone would use on today's computers works in order to really give you a good idea of what a steno machine accomplishes. Today's keyboards, or QWERTY keyboards, are known for being able to type letter for letter with the user. The difference with steno keyboards is that they type syllable for syllable instead of letter for letter like a traditional keyboard would.
The sounds of words are created by the initial consonants being on the left side while the ending consonants are on the right. Then you have the vowels in the middle area. There is not even a bar known as the space bar. Back in the day stenographers would have to read all of their notes without any spaces, crazy!
Stenographic theory had to be altered quite a bit when computers came around and changed the game. The computers couldn't just go through the words and understand the meanings, so we had to adapt. Thus, we came up with a dictionary of words that can be found with their steno strokes. Smaller words would be able to be accomplished with just one key stroke, where as it might take several letter strokes to accomplish this with a computer keyboard. Some times it may take more than one stroke on the steno for words that end in certain suffixes, but it is still significantly quicker than typing on a QWERTY keyboard.
One method that stenographers all over tend to use is the shortened method called briefs. A brief is when you shorten a word or replace it with another word in order to maintain a high level of speed. Then you would have to be able to go back later on and remember the switch that you made. This can often happen when you are repeating the same words over and over again, and want to basically use a shorthand version of the word.
What Is The Speed In Which A Stenographer Types?
Stenographers are able to type considerably faster than QWERTY keyboard typists because they have to hit less keys in theory. A great typist on a normal QWERTY keyboard can hit somewhere in between 80-110 words per minute, and obviously that can vary a little depending on who you are talking about, but that seems to be the high average.
A stenographer can type anywhere from from 200 to 250 words per minute on average, and some can hit even faster speeds than that. In fact, the record in currently set by Mark Kislingbury at 360 words per minute. To become certified to be a CART provider, you need to reach 180 words per minute, which is the average for general speech as well.
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