Paraprosdokian

Paraprosdokian

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The Steno Bunny

“Paraprosdokian” is a figure of speech that surprises the reader/listener.  The beginning of a paraprosdokian leads you to a particular train of thought, but the ending turns the meaning to an entirely new direction.

Here are a couple of classic paraprosdokians:

That’s no lady; that’s my wife.  Rodney Dangerfield

I sleep eight hours a day and at least ten at night.  Bill Hicks

I don’t belong to an organized political party. I’m a Democrat.  Will Rogers

In each instance, the ending is a surprise that makes you completely reevaluate the entire thing.

In a similar way, if steno students hear “ladies and …,” they are likely to pause in anticipation of a common phrase such as “ladies and gentlemen of the jury.”

But there are other possible phrases such as “ladies and gentlemen of the Senate” or “ladies and gentlemen of the prospective jury.”    If you pause on purpose so that you can use a phrase, you will often be wrong; and when you are wrong, pausing will put you needlessly behind.

But what about when you guess correct?  Don’t you get a big benefit from using the phrase?

Naaaah.  That’s rookie thinking.  If you are caught up and you pause to hear a phrase, the best you can hope for is that you can use that phrase to make up for the time you lost when you paused.

For phrase usage, a court reporting student needs only one rule:  Only use phrases if you recall the outline before it is time to begin stroking the phrase.

We play a speed game.  Any pausing for any reason is wrong.

Unless you are the Steno Bunny.

(Pause for effect)

Then  you have four paws.

What Steno Briefs Should you Learn Right Now?

As court-reporting students, you are faced with a constant flood of new outlines to learn.

Nobody knows all of them, and nobody can learn all of them right now.

And that begs the question, “What briefs should you learn right now?”

The answer is elegant and simple: learn the ones that give you the most trouble.  A word that shows up time after time after time is a better candidate to be briefed than one that appears sporadically.

Here’s an example:  Learning a brief for “record” is much more important than learning a brief for “reformation.”  “Record” is a very popularly used term.  Knowing “reformation” is nice, but it isn’t very popular and the stroke itself is probably a bit hard.  When you learn “record,” you are solving a problem that you face every day.  You can’t say that about “reformation.”

Am I saying that you should never learn a brief for “reformation”?  No, not at all.  You will probably learn it when you learn “reform,” but even “reform” is not as popular as “record.”  I would learn “reform” way down the steno avenue after I learned “record.”  As to “reformation,” I decided long ago that the brief was too hard.  I am much better off using two easy strokes, rather than one hard one.  If “reformation” was more popular, perhaps I would look for an easier brief.

What are the briefs that show up the most?  That’s fairly easy to figure out.  Review your dictations, and write down the problem words.  From that list, pick out a few of the really popular ones, and work on their outlines.

Review your drills.

Make a list of problem words.

Memorize the most popular words on your list.

I have much more detailed methods that we can talk about another day, but if you follow the simple plan that I just outlined, and you will have an effective method of memorizing briefs.

Barb DeWitt

Snake River (for the holidays), Washington