Thomas Allen Reed.

Technical reporting online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryThomas Allen ReedTechnical reporting → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

. ..






















Entered at Stationer^' Hail.



Introduction 3

Mechanical, &c. .. .. I2

Medical 20

Legal 30

Figures, etc. "37

Latin Quotations 4

French Words and Phrases . . . . 57



|MONG the many hand-books published in this
country for the benefit of shorthand students
it is surprising that there are none especially
devoted to technical reporting. This is one
of the most difficult departments of shorthand writing,
and yet the student has been left almost without guid-
ance respecting it. Special contractions without num-
ber have been provided for theological terms and phrases ;
political and commercial phraseology has been made the
subject of suitable abbreviations ; and even legal ter-
minology, has not been overlooked. But little or no pro-
vision has been made for the more difficult technicalities
of modern science which so often embarrass not only
young beginners but even proficients in shorthand.

Few things are more perplexing to a reporter or pro-
fessional shorthand writer than to be called upon to take
a full note of a lecture or speech or law case respecting a
matter involving minute technicalities of which he has no
knowledge, words and phrases which he hears perhaps
for the first time, and to which he is able to attach no
meaning. In a law case, or in a popular scientific expo-
sition, the difficulty is not so great, because the speaker
knows that he is addressing persons (a jury or a portion
of the general public), who are probably not familiar with
the technicalities of his art or science, and to whom, there-
fore, it is necessary to be very explicit. It is otherwise
when the audience consists of persons who thoroughly



understand the subject, and who have no difficulty in per-
ceiving the speaker's meaning even when he is not ex-
pressing himself very clearly and distinctly. When, for
example, a reporter has to attend a meeting of a scientific
society to take notes of a discussion on a highly technical
subject, which is, nevertheless, well understood by the
members taking part in the debate, or of a lecture to a class
of students at a hospital or at a college, he needs to have
some familiarity at least with the nomenclature employed
if he would -avoid the risk of falling into absurd mistakes.
It is obviously impossible for a reporter to make himself
acquainted with even the terminology of all the arts and
sciences. They have, especially of late years, developed
to such an extent that professional scientists and artists
themselves find it difficult to keep pace with the ever-ad-
vancing tide of knowledge ; and however diligent a reader
a reporter may be, his reading can hardly be extensive
enough to enable him to master the thousands of technical
terms in use in the various departments of study. But
the reporter who desires to attain high rank in his pro-
fession should do his best to familiarize himself with as
many of these technical words and phrases as he can.
Many reporters, indeed, conscious of their own deficiencies
in this respect, decline to undertake reporting work of a
highly technical character ; others, no better qualified,
sometimes undertake it, but only to bring discredit on
themselves and their profession. Work of this kind should
not be lightly undertaken. Of course, a great deal will
depend on circumstances. The speaker may be very de-
liberate and distinct, in which case the unfamiliar techni-
calities may be easily caught, and recorded with sufficient
accuracy to enable the reporter to turn them out, if neces-
sary, in a dictionary or cyclopaedia. Or, if he is employed
to take notes by a scientific lecturer, it may be that he is
told not to trouble himself about technical terms which he
cannot catch, but to leave blanks for them to be supplied


by the speaker himself. Or again, he may have the as-
sistance of a friendly editor or other expert who will revise
the manuscript and supply deficiencies. In such cases a
fairly good shorthand writer may readily enough under-
take a reporting engagement of this kind if offered to him.
But even here the work may not be so easy as it seems.
For in scientific reporting the difficulty does not arise
solely from the use of unfamiliar terms. It arises partly
and perhaps chiefly from the difficulty of following the
ideas and arguments of the speaker when discoursing on
a subject of which the reporter knows little or nothing.
There may not be half-a-dozen words in the lecture which
the reporter has not heard before, and yet he may find the
note-taking a difficult task, and may have to strain his
attention to the utmost in order to catch the exact words
of the speaker. In reporting speeches on ordinary and
familiar topics there is no such difficulty in following the
train of thought, and hence the work of note-taking is
comparatively easy. The memory, too, serves to supply
any chance omissions, but no such aid can be relied on
when the matter is foreign to the reporter ; nor can he,
when transcribing his notes, allow himself the customary
latitude in the arrangement of the sentences with a view
to giving a better expression to the speaker's meaning.

For these and other reasons the reporter's general read-
ing should take as wide a range as possible, and include
some of these technical subjects to which I have alluded.
I am not suggesting that he should seek to memorize the
many long and perplexing chemical, botanical, anatomical,
and other terms which abound in works devoted to de-
tailed expositions of particular branches of science. The
labor would to most persons be enormous, and would leave
but little time for other study. There need, however, be
no great difficulty in making oneself familiar with the
general outlines of these sciences and their terminology ;
with the names, for example, of the principal geological


strata, with the main features of human anatomy and
physiology, with some of the principal terms employed in
engineering and mechanical science, with military and
naval terms, with architectural words and phrases and the
like. These are subjects that will almost certainly crop
up in the experience of a reporter in extensive practice ;
and even for ordinary newspaper purposes some know-
ledge of them cannot fail to be useful. Medical testimony
of a more or less technical character is often given at in-
quests and other legal inquiries ; evidence on geological
matters is of common occurrence in the Law Courts ;
and the other topics to which I have referred are con-
stantly coming within the range of the reporter's duties,
quite apart from any special engagements outside his
regular occupation. So that -even for every-day purposes
some familiarity with the technicalities of the arts and
sciences is an important acquisition to the professional
reporter ; but for the purposes of general scientific report-
ing say for the scientific press it is almost an absolute
necessity. A great deal of knowledge on these subjects
may be "picked up" in the course of his practice if he is
often called upon to deal with them, but at the beginning
he may find himself in serious trouble without some little
preparation of the kind I have indicated.

When the reporter, in note-taking, meets with a technical
or other unfamiliar word he should make a point of writing
it as fully as possible, expressing phonetically the sounds
exactly as they have reached his ear. In order that he
may be able to do .this, he should keep as close to the
speaker as he can if the subject is of a very technical
nature. If he is following at some distance behind the
speaker, as in ordinary reporting, he will have no extra
time to spare for the careful and fully-vocalized expression
of any difficult words that may occur ; but if he keeps
close upon the speaker's heels he can easily spare a second
or two for the purpose, and (unless the speed is very rapid)


he will have but little trouble in recovering any ground
that he may have thus lost. If he meets with several such
words together, it will be no easy task to write them (even
if he hears them distinctly, which is not always the case)
with sufficient fulness and clearness to be able to decipher
them afterwards. Of course, in the cases I am supposing,
the reporter will only be able to write the words according
to the sounds as they reach him, and this may at the best
be but an imperfect guide to the spelling, as to which he
will have to seek the assistance of a dictionary. Nor is
this always so simple a matter as it may seem. In the
first place, technical terms are not always to be found in
ordinary dictionaries, and the necessary books of reference
are not always at hand. In the next place, the reporter
may not be so sure of the beginning of the word as to know
certainly under what letter to look for it ; and even if he
has caught the sound correctly he may still be misled as
to the commencing longhand letter. Hearing and writing,
for example, such a word as pterygoid, or psoas, in which
the initial p is not sounded, it might never occur to him to
look out the words under that letter. So the word quoin,
pronounced coin, might not be known to him, and he would
hardly think of turning it out in the dictionary under the
letter q. In such cases something more than a dictionary
is needed, namely, a text-book on the particular subject
in hand.

Another difficulty in connection with technical reporting
is, that the reporter is more than usually liable to clashes
in connection with words containing the same consonants.
Thus, if unacquainted with chemical terms he may readily
enough confuse sulphate, sulphite, and sulphide; and in
reporting a horticultural address he may get considerably
"mixed" with indigenous and endogenous. Here is an
additional difficulty arising from the greater attention re-
quired in such reporting work to the mechanical effort of
reporting, which necessarily abstracts the mind from the


subject of the discourse, and, as I have said, prevents it
from following readily the line of thought pursued. This
is another reason why it is important that the reporter
should endeavor to familiarize himself with the terminology
of the subjects on which his pen is likely to be engaged.
He is thus able to relieve himself from the strain otherwise
put upon his attention by the frequent occurrence of words
which require more care and longer time to write, and can
devote all his thoughts to following the subject upon which
he is writing, without which, it need hardly be said, his
work can never be satisfactorily performed.

When a reporter knows that he has a speech or lecture
to report which he has reason to believe will abound in
technicalities, if the subject is, like Parisian French to
Chaucer's Prioress, " to him unknowe," he should turn to
an article in a cyclopaedia or text-book on the subject, and
devote an hour or two to its study. Not that he will be
likely to acquire much knowledge of it in so short a time,
but he may gather something from his labor which will
enable him the better to follow the speaker, both with his
pen and his brain.

If, as often happens, diagrams or tables are likely to be
used, the reporter should make a point of attending early,
say a quarter of an hour or more before the commence-
ment of the proceedings, with a view of getting such as-
sistance from them as they can render, and if necessary,
copying some of them into his note-book. They may
contain some of the terms and phrases which might, being
unfamiliar, puzzle and retard him in his note-taking. These
should be noted at once and have appropriate shorthand
forms assigned to them, so that they may cause no hesita-
tion when they occur in actual writing. Even if the words
should not occur, the labor will not have been thrown
away. Some knowledge will have been gained, however
little, which may excite an interest in the subject and lead
to further reading ; and on some future occasion the in-


formation thus acquired will be sure to prove serviceable
For, as I have elsewhere endeavored to point out^ 1 ) the
reporter can hardly acquire any knowledge in literature,
science, or art, that will not at some time or other be use-
ful to him in his professional work, and this quite apart
from its value as contributing to his own mental culture.

It is to assist the reporter in work of this kind that I
have compiled the following lists of words and phrases
that are frequently met with in technical reporting. I have
not included theological terms, as these have been amply
provided for in the Pitman text-books ; nor have I at-
tempted to deal with the constantly increasing nomencla-
ture of chemistry, botany, and other departments of natural
history. To compile lists of outlines, full or abbreviated,
for the names of all the plants, animals, chemical com-
binations and the like, would require a much larger volume
than the present, and would hardly be worth the labor
which it would involve. Few shorthand students would
give themselves the trouble to study them. Words of this
character, though often met with in books, do not frequently
occur in actual reporting, even in connection with scientific
subjects. My object has been to give the student suitable
forms for such technical words as he may expect to meet
with if he attempts technical work. They are words that
I have constantly had to write in my own practice, and for
which I have thought it desirable to provide brief and
facile forms. In some cases it will be seen that the words
are written in full, that is, with all their consonants ex-
pressed, while in many others I have given special abbre-
viated outlines which my experience has proved to be ser-
viceable in rapid writing. The unabbreviated words are
included in these, because they are of common occurrence
and because I have thought it might be useful to give the
student what appears to me to be the best forms (out of
many possible ones) for their representation.

i. See " The Shorthand Writer."


I do not suggest that the student should endeavor (o
commit to memory all the lists that I have given. They
should, however, be read and studied with some care, es-
pecially those which the reader thinks will be likely to be
of use in his own work. It will be good practice to copy
them several times, turning out in the dictionary all the
words of which the meaning is not known.

These lists, as I have said, are by no means exhaustive,
but I think they will be found sufficient for most practical
purposes. When other words not included in them are
found often occurring, and their full forms are long or
otherwise inconvenient, the reporter will have little diffi-
culty in extemporizing outlines on the lines here indicated
that will answer his purpose. But care should be taken
that these outlines are not such as will be likely to clash
with other words. This is the principal danger that has
to be avoided in the choice of abbreviated forms, and it
should therefore never be overlooked. The longer the
outline the more distinctive it usually is, and the more it
is shortened the greater the danger of its resembling some
other forms. Hence the necessity of great care in the
selection. I need not say that I have always had this in
view in compiling the abbreviations here set forth.

In the case of a very long and unusual word occurring
in the process of note-taking, it may well happen that the
reporter will be extremely puzzled to write it with rapidity
and at the same time with accuracy. It is almost impos-
sible to analyze exactly a very long and unfamiliar word,
to remember the precise order of the syllables, and to
think of and write the appropriate symbols for them with
the instantaneousness of ordinary reporting. With a poly-
syllabic word of this character it will often be found an
advantage to break it up into two or three portions, writing
them close together, so as to show their connection. Such
a word for example as mononitromonobrombenzene it would
be almost impossible to write with accuracy on hearing it


for the first time ; but the reporter might, if he were very
expert, manage to get it down in several stages, as, mono,
nitro, mono, brombcnzene. In some cases the reporter does
not know whether he is listening to one long word or two
or three short ones, and then he will naturally adopt the
easier plan in dealing with strange expressions of writing
separate forms, uniting the syllables afterwards in his
transcript if he discovers that they belong to a single word.
The list of foreign and classical words and phrases com-
prises those most commonly met with both in reading and
in reporting. They will be found useful, especially to the
young reporter, and should be carefully read and copied
out until he is familiar both with the words and phrases
themselves and the mode of representing them. The task
will, -of course, be all the easier if he has some knowledge
of French and Latin. If he has none my strong recom-
mendation to him is that he should lose no time in supply-
ing what to a reporter cannot be otherwise than a serious
deficiency. In the expression of the French words I have
adopted the plan laid down in my little work on French
Phonography, that is, following in many cases the or-
thography rather than the sound. This, though objec-
tionable on theoretical grounds, has the practical advan-
tage of giving easier forms to represent the words, and
assimilating them in many instances to their English


Accelerator ^^

automatic g

accumulator ^f

brake -kzr 11

achromatic ; ^ (i)

axle box fa\ o

acute angle ~^s

Balance weight ^V'?

adhesive-sion \>^~ \P

ball and socket V" "

aerostatic-s ^ ~c|

bar iron \-~.

affluent ^ (2)

barometer V^ ^

air-pump ~\

barometric *\^

amalgam-ate-d ,-V

pressure ^

amalgamation ^-v" '

Bessemer process ^\

ammoniacal liquor ^-^^x;

,, steel Y"

analysis "JT

bituminous V-s_o

angle-bar ^"V-^

,, coal \^-v_J>

angle-iron ^ ^

blade A (3)

angle of elevation Y\^

blast furnace ^.

incidence ^~J

pipe S.

reflection ~^\

block signal ^

aspirator \^^

,, System STTTTI

astragal x<

blow pipe N\

atmosphere UN

Board of Trade "Nj

atmospheric l^j,

Board of Works <V > L _

atmospheric pressure i-oy

orickwork c>s> ^

at right angles .&?.

Caloric engine ^v .


circumferential c \_ < y
citric acid l_p
civil engineer ^^
co-efficient V_^
coffer dam ~~tk

cog wheel __

coke oven v^,

commutator h
compound engine X^
concentric ^_^
conic section ^"^
connecting rod ._/
coupling bar \_
bolt V
,, box N_D
chain ~^/
crank axle ^





cubic foot ->c
inch - S 7

drainage area Uw
drain pipe 1

millimetre _^-^-~ -x.
cut-off ^_

driving axle \^b
, , bar t^^_^

cutter bar l\

gear \j-

,, block J

wheel U-t-

cutting chisel -^.


,, machine -. -~\

ii t00 ' y
cylinder g

ductile-ility L J^
dynamic-s 1 l n
dynamic electricity \f \
dynamo-electric v

cylindrical &^~

dynamometer \^s- x.

Dead weight ^

Eccentric ^^^

decametre 1 x- x.

rod -o^r

decimetre J x

shaft ~~* > ~~'y

delivery cock [

effluent ^ (6)

i> pi? 6 X^

electric current f

,, valve ii

electro-magnetic f~~"

destructive distillation 11

electrometer (

diagonal J5s_

electro motive (" ^ (7)

differential J

elevator ^\^^^

dioptrics -r

embankment *v

direct acting engine \=*~j

engineer /

distant signal \

equilibrium \

donkey engine 1-^(5)

equinoctial r ^J

double cylinder engine <L/^V

evaporator V. /

down stream J


exhaust passage So


exhaust pipe ^\^

girder stays c t

,, steam ~~f-^
expansion governor ~^r

goods engine -p_^ (12)

,, traffic -q

Fathom ^

governor S-_,

feed pipe ^.

guide bar "^

water ^-t


pump '-,

fireman ^ N (8 )

blade "^
Heating apparatus <f\
heavy gradient rf^^j
high and low water mark r^

v i
fluent .._ (9)

foot pound v^ (10)
,, ton V
fore and aft ^ - \,

high pressure _.JL.
enpine 6

)) )l tllglllS -..-;/ - .

,, ,, steam - /

foreman ^^.^

high water mark ...L...

frictional electricity ^ f f

^ z>
hollow quoin f

friction band "^-^

horticultural %.
horticulture ^

,, battery ^"^

horse power d\

galvanism <5"^

per hour d\/
hot water apparatus I s -


hydraulic cylinder y"

gas engine "^ (u)

engine Y~J

,, retort .

governor f

gathering ground "

na y-^^-

Giffard's injector <b

girder "^"1 or when joined <

as x i iron girder

,, main Y
pressure Y ~s
propeller Y N X ^



hydraulic propulsion r \^3

locomotive engine >' ^

hydro mechanics l^__ 1 _ o

, superintendent ^TV.

hydrostatic l.

longitudinal if

pressure \^

seam f^f~*


section ^^^

hygrometric *"
Indicated horse-power >t

sleeper *?*\
strain ^

indicator diagram w I

low pressure /^/

induction coil w -r~

steam /v^

injector ^~7

low water mark /^-K

Institution of Civil "*~f

Magnetic ^

Engineers ^- *

,, current ^^"^

inverse proportion a\
iron __

magneto electric ^

iron-clad . ^

marine boiler s-~*/\f ^ (14)

isometrical X/ 4

material s ~^~

isothermal )

mechanical engineer s~*^

Laboratory i^' (!3)
Lancashire boiler ^\^~~\
lattice bridge /'I

girder /^]_
work ^3^

melallurgy-ical ^/7 ^"/
meteorology-ical ^v]
millimetre ^-^' x
mineralogy-ical '^*~f ^^~~l
molecular disturbance ^-^^\

level crossing ^\,r-<2^

molecule - V -

locomotive /T
,, boiler 'Ix^

multitubular '~^
obtuse angle ^^



oxide of iron f^ 05)

ailway bridge X

Parallelogram < \S C ~

carriage -/^/

passenger engine ^-i

company -?*

traffic i

signal ^

percolation \

train ,$

permanent way ^* </

rainfall )<_

perpendicular line \/>/

reciprocal /\/

motion NXv^j

reciprocating engine /

petroleum \

rectangle-ular >*

phosphorus-ic ^9? ^~^

rectilinear ^\

phosphoric acid V_o

recuperator / \^

physicist ^-P

regenerative ^


furnace ^

pig iron N ,

piston rod V,

regenerator ^^_^,

plate ^ (16) "'

retaining wall ^l/'

plummer block V-v/V

reversing gear X^~ ^


right angle ... jTTl

pump L - v

1 Q^ Jf 1

rising gradient -^ J

potential ~^_j

rivet-er /V /\^^

pressure gauge J-,

rolling stock "\Jt

Quadrangle ular -^

rotary engine Af~3

quadrilateral ^f

Safety valve "^-v

Rack and pinion x V

screw propeller \,

radiometer /\, x

sectional area o~^

railroad sff

semi- circular 60

railway arch <^

Siemens-Martin steel




six foot way -c /

temper K - (18)


slide box 6\o

temperature ..]...... (19)

valve d ^_

tensile strain l^g.

smoke box f- ^ n
solar spectrum o^.

- strength l_.
tidal river -|j^\..

specific gravity % i

torpedo boat IN.

spectrum analysis > ^

traction engine 1 ,



speetroscope-copic \_ \^=_

i v

transmitter J -^

spring tide "^^

triangle-ular T*

square foot ^^

tube plate _l _

inch e ~^-/

tubular bridge -L-..
ll -^

,, root G -^]

turn table U

t , yard Ci - >

tuyere \/

mile t./'

Ultimate strain n

steam engine <r^~f

stress <TJI

pressure CT-J

undulatory ^\~/

structure |

up-stream st

stuffing box V.

utilization _yk..

suction pipe c^

,, of sewage ._^

superficial area x \

Ventilator S^

suspension bridge X^.

1 3 4

Online LibraryThomas Allen ReedTechnical reporting → online text (page 1 of 4)