By Wouter Zwijnenburg

Sono Wouter Zwijnenburg, stenografo del parlamento olandese.Vi presento la Stanza della Lingua (de Taalkamer) del nostro Ufficio di Resocontazione e le misure per stabilire un’unità d’uso della lingua nei resoconti integrali dei dibattiti.

La nostra soluzione è la sezione domande/risposte della rete intranet e la lista delle parole. Quest’ultima è disponibile per tutti i resocontisti, ha una semplice opzione di ricerca ed è costantemente aggiornata dai colleghi. I membri della Stanza della Lingua decidono i concetti o lo status permanente di ogni parola aggiunta.

Di recente è stata prodotta una versione revisionata delle linee guida dell’Ufficio di Resocontazione olandese, che tiene conto dell’uso corrente della lingua scritta e orale.

Inoltre, l’Ufficio ha sviluppato app e dispositivi per diffondere la pratica parlamentare al pubblico tramite testi, immagini e video in diretta e in differita.

Oltre a produrre sottotitoli, scriviamo testi leggibili e utili per la futura pratica giudiziaria, rimanendo fedeli allo stile e al linguaggio originale e mantenendo aggiornato l’uso della lingua.

Questo intervento può essere ulteriore spunto di dibattito sul tema.

My name is Wouter Zwijnenburg, for already 36 years I am a stenographer in the Dutch House of Representatives and Senate.

I will be giving a short presentation about The Language Room, a subdivision of the Dutch Parliamentary Reporting Office, and its constant struggle to reach some form of unity in the use of language in the reports of the Dutch Parliament.

On a regular parliamentary day it is not unusual that thirty co-workers work on the verbatim report of the parliamentary proceedings. And those employees all have their own opinion about language and the role of the Reporting Office. And they all have their own linguistic hobbyhorses.

We all have our particular thoughts about language and about what is right and what is wrong.

But because we don’t want a report in which you can easily recognize the moment another reporter is taking her turn, we need some authority to guide us, like in real life.

Enter The Language Room, de Taalkamer. Five colleagues striving for the best possible verbatim report. And some form of unity in the use of language in the Dutch parliament.

How? By our own corner on the intranet site, with a question/answer facility

And our list of words. Available for everyone working in the parliament building. The list has an easy search option en at this moment contains some 5.200 words. Growing every week. Every colleague can add words to the list. The members of The Language Room decide on the concept or permanent status of the added word. What kind of words? Foreign names and places, organizations, laws, sayings, etc.

But writing down the names and words in the same way is of course only a first step. We definitely need more to reach unity.

With some pride The Language Room recently produced a new thoroughly revised version of the Dutch Reporting Office guidelines. The Language Room constantly monitors the way its own language guidelines connect to the changing oral and written linguistic usage. And decided a year ago that the guide did no longer do justice to the changing practice.

Things change. The way the report is used is changing, as well as the audience. For instance, the new generation is much more into images then into text. That’s why the Dutch Parliamentary Reporting Office invested in apps and devices to disclose the parliamentary practice to the public.

Nowadays, everyone can watch a debate via the app DebateDirect. And everyone who missed a debate can watch it via MissedDebate. Those are subtitled by the verbatim report. The subtitles are added within 36 hours. By doing this, everyone who watches a debate on MissedDebate has an insight in our work. They hear the words and can see what we’ve done to them.

This limits of course our freedom to alter words and sentences. Much more than in the good old days we have to be able to justify all our interventions in parliamentary speeches.

Nevertheless, providing subtitles is not our major business. We still have to produce texts that are readable and of use for future investigation and for the judicial practice.

So yes, we really needed a new guide.

It contains rules and recommendations about:

  • spelling
  • what do we record, what do we omit from the report
  • style
  • punctuation
  • capital/small letters
  • numbers in digits or letters
  • compounds with or without other languages
  • the particular nature of political speech
  • and so on, and so on

In the guide the rule ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ has a more prominent place than before. No more remarks like ‘I changed the sentence, because I think it’s better this way’ or ‘my tutor once told me’. No, we write down what is said in a readable form/shape. That means that we will remove stopgaps/fillers like ‘you know’, that we will sometimes replace subordinate clauses, that we will cut sentences in two, et cetera. But when a minister uses the word ‘extraordinary’ in every two sentences, he will do the same in the report.


The tendency is:


We know it better, so we change your words


We know it better, but you said it like this


We must not forget an important role of the parliament in the devopment of speech and language. Lots of new expressions and words are born in the parliament. We have to suppress our relentless urge for correctness and allow new expressions and words to see daylight. However ugly they are in our views.

An example: to communicate. It was only used in this way: to communicate with someone about something. A few years ago people started to use phrases like this one: we communicated this. Wrong, the stenographers said, and changed it into something like: we have spoken about this. But the use of ‘to communicate’ in this way soon became more usual. So at a certain moment we have to decide that we no longer change it. In this process The Language Room plays a role, together with the Quality Division.

Again, new words and new ways of saying things are emerging every day. Some as a flash in the pan, some here to stay.

And: parliamentary speech reflects and influences media and daily life liguistic usage.

We are not writing essays, we are writing the verbatim report.

Will this reduce our beautiful job to that of a typist? This fear is quite often expressed, but unnecessary. Dutch politicians are not always gifted speakers. And I think it will not be very different in other parliaments. There is still a lot of work to be done in the ‘translation’ from spoken word to readable sentences on screen or on paper. Our job might even be more difficult, now our almost limitless editing freedom has ended.

By providing guidelines and encouraging discussion The Language Room tries to keep the work of the Dutch Reporting Office and the views on correct usage up-to-date. It would be great when we can exchange ideas and practices. In what way reporting is changing in your own parliament? How do you strive for unity in reporting? Do you correct unintentional mistakes of a speaker? Do you record incomplete sentences or do you reformulate them into complete ones? Etc.

The Communication Project – Proposal to ease written communication in international contexts

Di Carlo Eugeni e Allen Rotz


Il Communication Project dell’Intersteno è volto ad agevolare la comunicazione interna alla Federazione Internazione per il Trattamento dell’Informazione e della Comunicazione. È stato pensato per superare le barriere linguistiche presenti tra i membri della Federazione, provenienti da 30 paesi diversi, nei momenti più alti della vita associativa. Il progetto, portato avanti dal Comitato Scientifico dell’Intersteno, consiste nel mettere insieme il Plain Language nella propria lingua materna e la traduzione automatica. Grazie ai progressi tecnologici e alla condivisione di molte conoscenze tra i membri della Federazione è possibile colmare eventuali errori commessi nell’uso del Plain Language da parte dei singoli membri. Il sistema, qui illustrato, è applicabile sia alla comunicazione scritta, sia alla comunicazione orale plurilingue, specialmente nei momenti in cui si usa l’inglese come lingua veicolare.

  1. Introduction

The International Federation for Information and Communication Processing INTERSTENO is the only global association that brings together professionals, scholars, software houses, teachers and experts in diametric translation, i.e. the process that leads to the production of a written text starting from an oral text or vice versa[1]. While covering many transcription practices in its broadest sense – from dictation to note-taking, including subtitling, linguistic transcription, reporting and audiovisual translation – most Intersteno members are delegations from over 40 nations of the world and individual members, fundamentally experts in court and parliamentary reporting, that is practices that are strictly intralinguistic (translation from spoken to written form in the same language). Therefore, communication between the various members of the Federation is not always simple, especially in the highest moments of the life of the federation, such as the world competitions, the council and the assembly.

To try to solve the communication problems between the various members of the Intersteno, whose vehicular language is de facto English, the scientific committee has been in charge of carrying out the Communication Project, aimed at facilitating communication between the various members, thanks also to technological progress that allows to have particularly accurate machine translation software. Thanks to recent studies on the subject [2], it has been found that the most recurrent errors that they make are essentially due to syntactic order. So, in order to solve most of the problems due to a bad automatic translation, it was decided to capitalize on the North American experience of plain English. Plain English is a simplification of the English language so that the Public Administration can communicate more easily with citizens, especially foreigners. From this, we understand that it is not a matter of trivializing the language or of a limited code, but of a more linear way of expression that guarantees the possibility of expressing any concept. The task of the scientific committee was to develop guidelines for Intersteno members so that they can write in Plain Language, valid for as many languages as languages. After that, it will be enough to automatically translate the text by means of an automatic transcription software[3] and send the text to the receiver(s) in the form of an e-mail, a text message or a subtitle. The comprehension of an English text will be possible by automatically translating it with the same automatic transcription software into their language. Any errors will be compensated by the contextual, sectoral, or encyclopaedic knowledge of the user.

In this article we will first illustrate the guidelines produced by the scientific committee to write or speak in Plain Italian (§2) and then we will apply them to a text produced in different languages ​​(§3).


  1. Plain Language

“A communication is in plain language if its wording, structure, and design are so clear that the intended audience can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information”[4]. By Plain Language we mean here the adaptation of the guidelines developed internationally to the purpose of the Communication Project valid for as many languages as possible. In this chapter ten rules are proposed which allow to write in Plain Language.

  • Express one concept per paragraph

People tend to write as they speak and sometimes to speak as they write. However, spoken and written language are two different communication systems although they belong to the same language. So, instead of expressing two or three concepts within the same sentence, try to communicate one thing at a time. Instead of:

John, whom I have been knowing since ages, is a good friend who will come and visit me at my parents’ house which is located in Umbria, where Ed Sheeran decided to live because he thinks London is too chaotic.


John is a good friend of mine. I know him since we were boys. He will come and visit me at my parents’ house. They live in Umbria, where Ed Sheeran decided to live, because he thinks that London is too chaotic.

  • Prefer short sentences (max one verb, if possible)

Similarly, prefer just one verb per sentence. This may seem odd at the beginning because you may be used to a given rhetorical style. However, precisely because different languages have different rhetoric, the more you simplify your syntax, the easier Itwill be for you to communicate with people who do not share your culture. Remember: you will not look less intelligent if you simplify your language. You will look smarter. And you will be better and more quickly understood! So, instead of:

Given that today it’s 40°C, the Mayor, after consulting the Council, decided to close schools.


Today it’s 40°C. That is why the Mayor consulted the Council. They decided to close schools.

  • Use punctuation only to discriminate sentences

People tend to associate the use of punctuation to the natural pauses in spoken language. However, this may result in ambiguous formulations. That is why we recommend to use punctuation only when grammatically needed. . Avoid semicolon which can be used differently according to languages. Instead of:

Today, in Italy, unemployment is increasing, youngsters are emigrating, and economy regresses.


Today in Italy unemployment is decreasing. Youngsters are leaving. Economy regresses.

There are three cases where commas are necessary from a grammar standpoint:

LISTS OF ELEMENTS: I have eaten potatoes, onions, melon, and an ice-cream.

including VERB GROUPS: I am a boy, do the cleaning and go shopping.

SPLIT CLAUSES: I have eaten a lot, because I was hungry.

including PARENTHETICAL CLAUSES: James, who is funny, helped me a lot.


In a series of three or more, always use a comma before “and”:

The proceeds of the estate will be shared equally between Tom, Jane, and John.

VOCATIVES (names addressing people) AND HOLOPHRASES (words expressing clauses):

(vocatives): Franca, do you mind closing the door?

(holophrases) Hello, how are you? Fine, are you fine too? Yes, thanks, I like you.

In Plain Language LISTS OF VERB GROUPS, PARENTHETICAL CLAUSES and SYNTACTICAL ODDITIES should be avoided and more syntactical linearity should be preferred (cf. §2.1 and §2.5).

  • Use coherence whenever possible

Coherence is what makes a text in general and the relations between sentences comprehensible. This means that the more you use coherence, the more people will understand your text while reading and do not get lost. Instead of:

Real-time transcriptions are mainly done through respeaking. Stenotyping is costy.


Real-time transcriptions are mainly done through respeaking because stenotyping is costy.

  • Prefer linear syntax

Another element which is specific to every single language is syntax. However, almost all languages accept a more linear word order. The most common one is SVO (Subject, Verb, Object). If possible, use this syntactical order to construct your sentences. Instead of:

Pizza, with John I ate it, in London


In London I ate pizza with John.

  • Prefer active form

Another characteristic which varies according to languages is the use of the passive form instead of the active form. If you want to be clear, it is better to signal who is doing what through the use of the active form. That is why it is preferred to avoid the passive form in plain language. Instead of:

In Plain Language the active form is preferred.


In Plain Language we prefer the active form.

  • Avoid anaphora and cataphora (use of grammatical elements to recall a word)

When you change the word order of a sentence, you need to use a grammatical element (usually a pronoun) to bridge the gap. Since this may cause misunderstandings, and is easily avoidable, instead of:

John, I saw him in Budapest.


I saw John in Budapest.

  • Avoid ambiguous words and technicalities

Some words are ambiguous in many languages such as “make”, “do”, “thing”. Some words are ambiguous in only one language. However, even technicalities can be ambiguous. That is why it is preferred to use words in their more specific sense and not in the most used one. So prefer “shorthand” or “stenotyping” to “stenography”; “live” and “semi-live” to “real-time” subtitles; and “speech recognition” when “voice recognition” means “automatic transcription of a spoken text”.

  • Avoid acronyms

Acronyms can be specific to a culture. Even within a restricted community (ex: Intersteno) people use different acronyms for the same concept (ex: ASR, CART, AT, CAT, STT). To avoid ambiguities, even in communication among colleagues, write all the words of an acronym when it is first used. Maybe again if the acronym appears pages later.

  • Avoid colloquial or typically culture-oriented terms

Colloquial phrases are those that have a clear meaning to the native speakers of a language but are incomprehensible to others. This is true for syntactical, semantic, and lexical expressions. For example, in Italian the expression “Più sono e meglio è” means “the more they are, the better it is”. However, the verb “sono” may mean both “they are” and “I am”. Unfortunately, Google Translate does not know this scheme and proposes the following as a translation: “The more I am, the better it is”. An example of mistranslated semantic expression is the English trope: “I got lost”, which is translated in Russian as “я потерял” which means “I lost”. The same problems are caused by so-called multiple-meaning words, such as “demonstrate”, which can mean both “to show how something works” and “to protest”.

Avoid all expressions that are semantically, syntactically, and lexically ambiguous and try to make sentences as “international” as possible. By doing so, even Google Translate will produce good results when translating a text into English or any other language.

  1. Applicazione a un caso concreto

In this paragraph the above-mentioned rules will be applied to a concrete case. Follows the introduction to the Communication Project as presented at the Intersteno Scientific Committee meeting at the 51st Congress[5]. On the left the text in Plain German, Plain Italian, Plain French, and Plain Spanish. On the right their automatic translation.

Meine Damen und Herren, in den nächsten 5 Minuten möchte ich über Kommunikation sprechen. Wenn wir mit Freunden chatten, missverstehen sie manchmal unseren Text. Warum? Denn die gesprochene Sprache ist nicht die gleiche wie die schriftliche Sprache. Gesprochene Sprache ist viel reicher als geschriebene Sprache. Ladies and gentlemen, in the next 5 minutes I would like to talk about communication. When we chat with friends, sometimes they misunderstand our lyrics. Why? Because the spoken language is not the same as the written language. Spoken language is much richer than written language.
Facciamo un esempio. I politici italiani spesso usano strane parole e una sintassi complessa. Se le persone ascoltano uno di loro, lo capiranno comunque. Questo perché la lingua parlata è ricca di elementi non verbali. Questi strumenti non verbali aiutano la comunicazione. Tuttavia, la lingua scritta non ha tutti questi strumenti. Questo è il motivo per cui, se le stesse persone leggono la trascrizione di quello stesso discorso, avranno problemi a capirlo. Let’s take an example. Italian politicians often use strange words and a complex syntax. If people listen to one of them, they will understand anyway. This is because the spoken language is rich in non-verbal elements. These non-verbal tools help communication. However, the written language does not have all these tools. This is why, if the same people read the transcription of that same speech, they will have problems understanding it.
Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire? Ça veut dire que la communication parlée n’est pas la même chose que la communication écrite. De plus si nous parlons à des personnes qui ne comprennent pas notre langue, nous pouvons résoudre le problème avec les interprètes ou les traducteurs. Mais ceci est souvent impossible. La solution que nous cherchons dans le comité scientifique de l’Intersteno réside dans l’emploi du Plain Language . What does it mean? It means that spoken communication is not the same thing as written communication. In addition if we talk to people who do not understand our language, we can solve the problem with the interpreters or translators. But this is often impossible. The solution we are looking for in the Intersteno Scientific Committee is the use of Plain Language.
Nuestra idea es la siguiente: todos nos otros hemos tratado de traducir automaticamente un email del alemán al inglés. El resultado fue muy malo. Y pensamos que el traductor de Google no funciona. Sin embargo, pensamos que el problema es que el texto del email no fue escrito del modo que le gusta a Google. Por ello, si se escribe un texto en su lengua en una forma simplificada que llameremos “Plain Language”, el traductor de Google lo traducirá en inglés de forma comprensible. Our idea is this: all of us have tried to automatically translate an email from German to English. The result was very bad. And we think that the Google translator does not work. However, we think that the problem is that the email text was not written in the way that Google likes. Therefore, if you write a text in your language in a simplified form that we will call “Plain Language”, the Google translator will translate it in English in an understandable way.


  1. Conclusions

Le linee guida del Communication Project dell’Intersteno sono un utile strumento per la comunicazione internazionale mediata dalla traduzione automatica. Come è possibile vedere dagli esempi riportati nel paragrafo 3, basta applicare queste regole per ottenere delle traduzioni automatiche del tutto comprensibili. In alcuni casi, sono stati prodotti degli errori, ma si tratta di casi sporadici e del tutto trascurabili. In generale gli esempi appena riportati dimostrano che l’uso delle linee guida dell’Intersteno per produrre testi in Plain Language porta a traduzioni del tutto comprensibili indipendentemente dal fatto che la Plain Language sia una lingua affine (in questo caso spagnolo e francese) o una lingua proveniente da ceppi linguistici diversi (in questo caso inglese e tedesco). L’applicazione del Communication Project nella comunicazione scritta è possibile semplicemente scrivendo il testo in Plain Language nella finestra di destra di Google Traduttore e copia-incollando la traduzione sul supporto elettronico che si desidera utilizzare per comunicare con il ricevente. Alla stessa maniera, è possibile comunicare oralmente con il ricevente anche attraverso la lingua orale, dettando il testo a Google Traduttore. Il software di riconoscimento automatico del parlato ad esso collegato trascriverà la voce in testo scritto che sarà poi tradotto automaticamente sottoforma scritta che il ricevente può o leggere direttamente o ascoltare grazie a una sintesi vocale. Tuttavia il software di riconoscimento automatico del parlato comporta ancora alcune criticità che non permettono una traduzione automatica pienamente soddisfacente, specialmente se i suoi risultati sono da associare a un altro software automatico (quello di traduzione). Pertanto è ancora consigliabile utilizzare le linee guida sopra esposte limitandone l’uso alla comunicazione scritta o alla comunicazione orale mediata da un sottotitolatore in tempo reale professionista. The Intersteno Communication Project guidelines are a useful tool for international communication mediated by automatic translation. As you can see from the examples given in paragraph 3, it is sufficient to apply these rules to obtain fully understandable automatic translations. In some cases, errors have been produced, but these are sporadic and negligible cases. Moreover, it is easy to guess the real intention of the author of the text. In general, the examples above show that the use of the Intersteno guidelines to produce texts in Plain Language leads to completely understandable translations regardless of whether the text written in Plain Language is translated into a sister language (in this case German) or a language descending from a different linguistic group (in this case Italian, French, and Spanish). The application of the Communication Project in written communication is possible by simply writing the text in Plain Language in the left window of Google Translate and copying-pasting the translation on the electronic support that you want to use to communicate with the recipient. Similarly, it is possible to communicate orally with the recipient, by dictating the text to Google Translate. The Automatic Speech Recognition software linked to it will transcribe the voice into written text which will then be automatically translated into the written form that the recipient can either read directly or listen through a speech synthesis. However, the automatic speech recognition software still involves some critical issues that do not allow fully satisfactory automatic translation[6], especially if its results are to be associated with another automatic software (the translation one). Therefore it is still advisable to use the above-mentioned guidelines, by limiting their use to written communication or oral communication mediated by a professional real-time captioner. In this last case, the professional transcribes what is said and the transcription is sent in real time to Google Translate, that provides live subtitles.

[1] Gottlieb, Henrik (2005) “Multidimensional Translation: Semantics turned Semiotics”, in MuTra: challenges of multidimensional translation. Available at (last visit 21/12/2017) http://www.euroconferences.info/proceedings/2005_Proceedings/2005_proceedings.html.

[2] Cf. Manetti, Ilenia (2016) L’univers de la traduction à l’ère numérique. L’interaction homme-machine et les évolutions des logiciels automatiques : une analyse expérimentale. Unpublished BA Thesis. Pisa: SSML.

[3] For the purpose of this study the freeware “Google Translate” was used, available on all languages of Intersteno.

[4] Cf. PLAIN http://plainlanguagenetwork.org/plain-language/what-is-plain-language/ (last visit 21/12/2018).

[5] Cf. http://www.intersteno.org/berlin-2017/iprs-meetings-general-conferences-of-the-51st-congress/ (last visit 28/12/2017).

[6] Cf. Manetti, Ilenia (2016) L’univers de la traduction à l’ère numérique. L’interaction homme-machine et les évolutions des logiciels automatiques : une analyse expérimentale. Unpublished BA thesis. Pisa : SSML.

Il sistema stenografico Michela come supporto per le persone disabili (uno studio pre-sperimentale)

Di Fabio Angeloni e Paolo Antonio Michela-Zucco
Meine Damen und herren, mesdames et messiéurs, señoras y señores, ladies and gentlemen, signore e signori, sono Fabio Angeloni e lui è il mio collega Paolo Antonio Michela Zucco.La nostra relazione potrebbe essere un po’ fuori contesto, perché non si concentra sulla qualità nella produzione di un testo professionale, ma sul rapporto tra stenografia e disabilità; forse, potrebbe essere correlata alla qualità in un modo più generale: la qualità della vita!
Speriamo che vi interesserà!Arjan, grazie per il tuo aiuto! Wim: grazie per il tuo prezioso supporto!
Sei pronto? Iniziamo, Paolo Antonio!
Scarica le slide in formato pdf

(slide 1 copertina)
Da sempre la disabilità può portare all’isolamento e comportare deprivazioni culturali e sociali dovute alla mancanza di adeguati stimoli culturali o all’impossibilità di svolgere determinate attività comunicative, quali ad esempio lo scrivere, il parlare o il leggere. Si tratta di una vera e propria forma di discriminazione che ha iniziato a vedere una sua tutela nelle diverse legislazioni statali solo sul finire dello scorso secolo (slide 2). La prime forme di tutela in questo campo sono infatti introdotte nel 1990 negli Stati Uniti d’America con l’American with disabilities act, prima legislazione che tutela i disabili da ogni forma di discriminazione, e vengono poi attuate in altri paesi anglosassoni dove vige il sistema della Common law, come l’Australia, la Nuova Zelanda, il Regno Unito.Successivamente (slide 3) anche la comunità internazionale si adegua con la Convenzione ONU per i diritti delle persone con disabilità (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), approvata dall’Assemblea delle Nazioni Unite nel 2006, che diviene uno strumento concreto per spingere tutti i legislatori statali a combattere le discriminazioni e le violazioni dei diritti umani in questo campo.  In ordine specificamente all’aspetto dell’abbattimento delle barriere comunicative e culturali, a seguito di nuove legislazioni in questo settore sono stati introdotti in diversi Paesi servizi di ausilio ai non udenti per seguire le trasmissioni televisive e web, provvedimenti di sostegno alla Lingua dei segni e alla scrittura Braille, nonché sussidi e agevolazioni fiscali per l’acquisto di strumenti di supporto alla comunicazione. Per quanto riguarda specificamente l’Italia, ricordiamo (slide 4) la legge n. 126 del 3 agosto 2007 recante «Istituzione della Giornata nazionale del Braille» e l’Atto Senato n. 302, ancora in corso di discussione, recante «Riconoscimento della lingua italiana dei segni». Inoltre, l’Unione europea ha recentemente avviato consultazioni per l’introduzione di un atto europeo sull’accessibilità (EAA) volto a migliorare il funzionamento dei mercati interni per prodotti e servizi accessibili (slide 5).Nel campo dell’abbattimento delle barriere culturali la stenotipia ha da sempre svolto un suo ruolo. Come ricordava il compianto prof. Gianpaolo Trivulzio nella sua poderosa monografia “Stenotipia” (slide 6) edita dall’accademia Aliprandi: «Sin dall’inizio della concezione stenotipica (…) gli inventori hanno pensato che la macchina per stenotipia potesse facilitare la comunicazione con i ciechi (…) e, di converso, che i ciechi potessero utilizzare la macchina per riprendere i discorsi, lasciando eventualmente la successiva trascrizione ad altri colleghi».Va anche sottolineato che proprio al sistema Michela, negli anni successivi al 1862, va forse fatta risalire la prima applicazione della stenografia come ausilio alle persone disabili (slide 7), prima ancora del suo debutto nel campo della resocontazione parlamentare (i primi modelli non disponevano infatti di strisce inchiostrate ma scrivevano dei segni a rilievo mediante appositi punzoni). Successivamente, (slide 8) anche la prima tastiera stenografica americana, inventata da Miles Bartholomew nel 1879, vedrà nel 1888 lo sviluppo di un’apposita versione per non vedenti. Sempre il prof. Trivulzio, ci ricorda, nell’opera sopra menzionata, come la diffusione di macchine stenografiche destinate alla scrittura veloce  dei non vedenti risalga ai primi anni del 1900. Il metodo più diffuso (slide 9) consisteva nell’uso di tastiere Braille con abbreviazioni e sigle stenografiche. Seguendo il successo di queste tastiere, diverse persone furono addestrate all’uso delle normali macchine stenografiche (Stenotype, Grand Jean e Palantype) e negli anni ’50 in Francia fu organizzata la prima gara stenografica aperta anche ai ciechi (slide 10). Esempi di tale utilizzo li abbiamo anche oggi (slide 11); si pensi all’interessante rapporto «La professione di reporter parlamentare per le persone disabili» di Jenny Laval e Gert Sandig durante l’incontro IPRS del 2011, oppure a Miriam Martin Garcia, non vedente, che ha vinto due titoli Intersteno junior o anche al programma per non vedenti per tastiera Yawey.

Recentemente, (slide 12) i servizi di sottotitolazione basati su tastiere stenografiche sono divenuti popolari anche nel campo dell’istruzione superiore. (Come sappiamo, Velotype sta svolgendo un’esperienza importante in questo campo).


La tastiera Michela come dispositivo di comunicazione per persone disabili (slide 13)

Proprio dalla constatazione dell’importante connessione tra mondo della stenotipia e disabilità è nata l’idea del presente studio, volto a riportare alla luce alcuni specifici utilizzi della tastiera Michela che erano già stati previsti dal suo inventore ed a valutarne di ulteriori, alla luce delle possibilità offerte dalle nuove tecnologie. La nostra attenzione si è pertanto soffermata sulla valutazione delle potenzialità della tastiera Michela come sistema di input/comunicazione per portatori di handicap.

Occorre innanzitutto premettere che la Michela ben si presta a tale utilizzo in considerazione del fatto che una tastiera musicale, device molto più ergonomico rispetto alle comuni tastiere QWERTY in considerazione della larghezza e della conformazione dei tasti, può essere agevolmente utilizzata anche da portatori di handicap, come dimostrato da diverse esperienze nel campo della musicoterapia (slide 14). Va inoltre sottolineato che secondo lo specifico layout del sistema Michela (slide 15) ciascun dito può azionare non più di due tasti contigui e ciò agevola molto la scrittura cieca poiché i movimenti delle dita sono ridotti al minimo.

Come noto, il sistema Michela (concepito nel 1862) appartiene alla categoria delle tastiere stenografiche fonetiche (slide 16) (analogamente alle tastiere Stenotype, Grand Jean e Palantype) ed è forse il sistema fonetico per antonomasia. Nasce dagli approfonditi studi del professor Antonio Michela, che dedicò la vita alla ricerca di un alfabeto universale basato sulla rappresentazione dei suoni (slide 17). A differenza delle altre tastiere, la Michela è caratterizzata da un chiaro orientamento «fonografico» e «universale»; ciò è immediatamente ravvisabile dal suo layout, specificamente studiato per rappresentare sillabe e fonemi piuttosto che parole, e dalla presenza di svariati suoni (slide 18) palatali (y), velari (w, ng), interdentali (th), diacritici (Ü), dittongali (oi), semivocalici (oui) e silenziosi (e muta) non presenti nella lingua italiana e tipici di altri idiomi. Il sistema (slide 19) è in grado di produrre un complesso di 37 fonemi (26 suoni consonantici e 11 suoni vocalici) nelle quattro diverse posizioni in cui possono trovarsi all’interno di una sillaba (slide 20): incipit/onset (che, come noto, può essere formato da uno o due suoni consonanti), nucleo e coda. Alcune combinazioni di tasti (slide 21) possono assumere valori diversi per adattarsi meglio alle caratteristiche fonetiche di altre lingue, come previsto dall’inventore nel suo manuale del 1882. Tale insieme di fonemi corrisponde, in larga misura, (slide 22) ai suoni nella cosiddetta trascrizione ampia (o semplificata) dell’alfabeto fonetico internazionale (IPA) e consente di rappresentare adeguatamente la maggior parte dei suoni delle lingue più comuni.


Dispositivo di comunicazione vocale per persone mute o con disturbi del linguaggio (slide 23)

Uno degli obiettivi iniziali dello studio in oggetto è stato quello di sperimentare la possibilità di vocalizzare i fonemi prodotti dalla tastiera di Michela per verificarne l’utilizzo come dispositivo di comunicazione per persone mute. A tal fine, si è ritenuto opportuno utilizzare il software Total Eclipse come strumento di studio, considerata la sua grande versatilità, sebbene i medesimi risultati siano replicabili anche con altri software. Per far sì che il computer vocalizzi i fonemi prodotti con la tastiera stenografica, sarebbe stato senz’altro possibile inviare l’output del decritter fonetico ad un software text to speech. Si è però preferito utilizzare la possibilità offerta da Eclipse di associare alla traduzione di ogni definizione del dizionario stenografico anche la riproduzione di un file audio, ciò al fine di consentire una vocalizzazione dei fonemi sincrona con la loro digitazione. Una perfetta sincronizzazione tra scritto e parlato può infatti agevolare la comprensione dei fonemi da parte delle persone disabili e può anche consentire la prosecuzione di alcune sperimentazioni del sistema nel campo della logopedia (slide 24), tema affrontato in occasione del convegno organizzato dall’Associazione FIDAPA 2010 «Progetto Michela – problemi di lingua e apprendimento». È stato pertanto realizzato sperimentalmente un insieme di 1.600 voci (slide 25) corrispondenti ai suoni sillabici più frequenti nella lingua italiana, ai quali sono stati associati i rispettivi suoni sotto forma di file wav. Oltre a essere in grado di riprodurre suoni e fonemi, il sistema può anche rappresentare a video la struttura fonemica utilizzando i simboli dell’alfabeto fonetico internazionale (IPA). Vi mostriamo ora un breve video dimostrativo del dizionario vocale per la lingua italiana (potrebbe sembrare che lo stenografo stia scrivendo un discorso standard, ma in questo caso il processo è invertito: è il computer che vocalizza ciò che lo stenografo sta scrivendo) (video 26).

Con questo sistema, disponendo di un numero adeguato di file wav, è possibile idealmente riprodurre il suono di tutte le 81.796 strutture fonemiche rappresentabili con la tastiera di Michela e quindi realizzare un sistema di comunicazione universale per persone con handicap linguistici. Questo video mostra la vocalizzazione di frasi semplici in diverse lingue. (Video 27). Come potete constatare, il problema prevalente è la velocità, poiché il lettore wav integrato di Eclipse non riesce al momento a tenere il passo con la traduzione effettiva delle note stenografiche. (al momento non è pertanto ancora possibile scrivere a velocità oratoria senza pregiudicare la vocalizzazione dei fonemi). Per evitare questo problema, sarebbe necessario aumentare la velocità di riproduzione del file wav (senza modificare l’intonazione) all’aumentare della velocità di scrittura. Infine, poiché la tastiera Michela attuale utilizza il protocollo di comunicazione MIDI che, come noto, è in grado di registrare anche la forza (codici “pression” & aftertouch”) con cui vengono premuti i tasti, sarebbe ragionevole utilizzare tale funzione per modificare il tono della voce in relazione alla pressione esercitata sui tasti.


Dispositivo di scrittura per persone cieche o con disabilita’ visive (slide 28)

La seconda fase di questo studio ha approfondito una delle prime applicazioni del sistema di stenotipia Michela, accuratamente descritta (slide 29) dall’inventore nel suo primo brevetto. Come detto, le prime tastiere Michela non producevano strisce inchiostrate, poiché i segni stenografici erano impressi mediante una serie di punzoni, e quindi erano simili ai caratteri Braille (slide 30) (sistema concepito nel 1829 e già abbastanza diffuso in quegli anni). Questi segni erano noti per la loro alta leggibilità, poiché Antonio Michela aveva pensato a un sistema semplificato basato su soli sei semplici caratteri; analogamente a quanto aveva fatto Louis Braille (la cella Braille è costituita da soli sei punti). I primi risultati applicativi del sistema Michela alla scrittura dei non vedenti furono molto promettenti, tuttavia, in seguito all’introduzione dei primi modelli di tastiera in grado di produrre caratteri stampati, ed loro debutto nelle assemblee più prestigiose del tempo (slide 31), il sistema incontro un successo immediato nel campo della resocontazione parlamentare (dove è ancora utilizzato fino ad oggi) e questa specifica applicazione passò in secondo piano.

Come primo passo di tale applicazione (slide 32) la tastiera Michela è stata dotata di simboli Braille su ciascun tasto per facilitare l’identificazione dei rispettivi fonemi. È stata anche realizzata una striscia stenografica con caratteri Braille (slide 33) per valutare la comprensione della scrittura sillabica da parte degli ipovedenti. Come detto, per consentirne l’utilizzo da parte dei ciechi, il sistema originale utilizzava punzoni e le sillabe erano scritte come sequenze di punti, da sinistra a destra. Si è pertanto deciso di replicare le originali strisce stenografiche con scrittura a secco, sostituendo però i caratteri Michela con i corrispettivi caratteri Braille al fine di rendere più facile l’interpretazione dei fonemi ai non vedenti.

I risultati di tale sperimentazione sono stati sottoposti a diverse associazioni di tutela delle persone non vedenti o ipovedenti (slide 34) durante un incontro organizzato dal Senato italiano, tenutosi lo scorso 21 febbraio, in occasione della Giornata nazionale del Braille. In quella sede, oltre ad una dimostrazione del sistema, sono state effettuate delle prove di scrittura da parte dei numerosi presenti, portatori di svariati handicap visivi (slide 35). Dalle prove effettuate in quella sede non sono emerse particolari difficoltà nell’interpretazione dei segni Braille scritti in modo sillabico.

La seconda fase di questa sperimentazione ha approfondito la possibilità della tastiera Michela di produrre sequenze di parole piuttosto che sillabe, al fine di utilizzarla come sistema di input veloce dei testi (in caratteri normali o in Braille) in una varietà di applicazioni di scrittura e messaggistica per persone non vedenti o ipovedenti. A tale scopo, è stata sviluppata una specifica teoria ortografica (slide 36), poiché valutata più adatta a questo fine rispetto alla teoria fonetica standard, essendo più facile da apprendere e potendo funzionare anche senza un dizionario e un sistema di abbreviazioni. I sistemi ortografici pur non conseguendo le medesime prestazioni dei sistemi fonetici in termini di velocità di ripresa, consentono infatti prestazioni di tutto rispetto per tali applicazioni e comunque molto superiori rispetto a quelli ottenibili con una tastiera QWERTY standard.

La creazione di una teoria ortografica per l’italiano è resa poi piuttosto agevole dal fatto che è una lingua cosiddetta trasparente (al pari dello spagnolo, del tedesco, del finlandese, dell’ungherese e del serbo-croato) e quindi, a differenza delle c.d. lingue opache (inglese, francese eccetera) tutti i suoni delle parole trovano una loro espressione grafica (ad ogni grafema corrisponde un fonema).

Con il sistema ortografico in questione, (slide 38) qualsiasi operatore, dopo un periodo di allenamento di circa venti/trenta ore, è in grado di scrivere qualsiasi parola. Inoltre, dopo un ulteriore periodo di adeguato addestramento, un operatore medio può raggiungere una velocità standard di circa 300 sillabe al minuto. Per gli operatori più esperti è stato anche sviluppato un sistema di abbreviazioni di termini e particelle ricorrenti (prefissi, preposizioni articolate, suffissi e gruppi vocali-consonante presenti all’inizio o alla fine delle parole) che consente di aumentare ulteriormente la velocità di scrittura (potenzialmente oltre le 300 sillabe al minuto). Come evidente, si tratta di velocità più che adeguate per l’input di testi o sistemi di comunicazione verbale. Sono stati inoltre sviluppati dizionari sperimentali per la scrittura ortografica in altre lingue, insieme all’uso di caratteri Braille (slide 39).

Con tali implementazioni (teoria di scrittura ortografica, vocalizzazione dei suoni dei fonemi e rappresentazione dei caratteri Braille), collegando il sistema ad un display e ad un sistema di amplificazione è possibile scrivere sillabicamente con il sistema Michela in modalità ortografica e visualizzare i caratteri su un display grafico o Braille, ascoltando il suono dei fonemi che compongono la parole mentre queste vengono digitate (video 40).


Emulazione di una tastiera braille-perkins (slide 41)

Tra i molti quesiti posti a seguito della dimostrazione del sistema durante la Giornata sul Braille svoltasi al Senato diversi si sono concentrati sulla possibilità di utilizzare la tastiera Michela non solo come un normale terminale di scrittura ma anche come terminale Braille. Si è infatti constatato come una parte abbastanza consistente dei non vedenti, sia in Italia che all’estero, è abituata ad utilizzare per l’immissione dei testi le cosiddette tastiere dattilo-Braille o Perkins. A differenza delle normali tastiere (slide 42), le tastiere dattilo-Braille non dispongono di un tasto per ogni carattere ma sono dotate di soli sei tasti, corrispondenti ai sei punti della matrice Braille, più alcuni tasti aggiuntivi per indicare lo spazio, il backspace e il ritorno carrello. Per ottenere un carattere l’operatore deve premere simultaneamente i tasti che corrispondono ai punti necessari per formare, secondo il linguaggio Braille, quel determinato carattere. A seguito dell’interesse suscitato e delle richieste ricevute, si è pertanto ritenuto di sviluppare una specifica teoria per l’emulazione della tastiera Braille-Perkins mediante tastiera Michela. L’uso di tastiere musicali per sistemi Braille non è un’idea innovativa poiché (slide 43) anche una delle prime tastiere Braille ad apparire sul mercato, la Hall-Braille del 1892, usava piccoli tasti di pianoforte; ed è proprio ispirandosi a detta tastiera che si è realizzata tale emulazione.

Il primo layout che è stato sviluppato (slide 44) emula il classico layout della tastiera Perkins-Braille. In questo caso i 6 tasti neri interni sulla tastiera Michela corrispondono ai segni della matrice Braille «3», «2», «1», «4», «5», «6» (equivalenti ai simboli  ), insieme ai due tasti bianchi interni aggiuntivi «U» e «u», che vengono usati come barra spaziatrice. I tasti neri esterni «F» ed «f»  sono stati invece usati per indicare i tasti ritorno carrello e cancellazione (comandi normalmente presenti sulle tastiere dattilo-braille).

Con il secondo layout (slide 45) ci si è posti lo scopo di aumentare la velocità di scrittura in Braille, emulando la presenza di due tastiere dattilo-Braille affiancate tra loro, una nella emitastiera sinistra e una nella emitastiera destra della tastiera Michela. ). In questo caso verranno utilizzati tutti i sei tasti bianchi dell’emitastiera sinistra («S», «C», «P», «R», «I», «U»), per emulare i tasti «3», «2», «1», «4», «5», «6» della prima tastiera Perkins (equivalenti ai simboli  ) e tutti i sei tasti bianchi dell’emitastiera destra («u», «i», «a» «p», «c», «s»), per emulare i tasti «3», «2», «1», «4», «5», «6» della seconda tastiera Perkins (sempre equivalenti ai simboli   ). Lo «spazio» verrà ottenuto premendo uno qualsiasi dei tasti neri di entrambe le due emitastiere insieme a qualsiasi combinazione degli altri tasti. Come si può intuire, questo metodo, soprannominato amichevolmente “Stenobraille”, può consentire la scrittura di due caratteri braille alla volta, ma anche l’uso della tastiera sinistra per indicare l’attributo grafico del carattere successivo, secondo le regole tipiche del sistema Braille (maiuscolo, numero, alfabeto greco, espressione matematica, ecc.), con evidenti vantaggi in termini di velocità di scrittura rispetto alle convenzionali tastiere dattilo-Braille.


Ulteriori sviluppi (slide 46)

I primi risultati di questo studio hanno evidenziato la grande versatilità della tastiera di Michela come base per realizzare sistemi di comunicazione per persone disabili di facile utilizzo. Ciò è in parte dovuto al numero limitato di tasti (è la tastiera stenografica con il minor numero di tasti al mondo) e alle sue caratteristiche ergonomiche (tastiera musicale). Quest’ultima caratteristica (slide 47) facilita notevolmente la costruzione di tastiere Michela partendo da semplici ed economiche tastiere musicali MIDI ed eliminando semplicemente i tasti in sovrappiù. Ad esempio, in questa slide (slide 48) è possibile osservare uno studio sperimentale per un sistema “splittabile” ad emitastiere separate che, oltre a migliorare la portabilità, consente di lasciare uno spazio maggiore tra le mani (per posizionare uno schermo o un testo).

È stato inoltre condotto uno studio collaterale volto ad un’ulteriore semplificazione ed alla creazione di una tastiera “a mano singola” ” (single handed keyboard),  per gli utilizzi più svariati. Normalmente, le tastiere alfanumeriche a mano singola (slide 49) sono costituite da un minor numero di tasti da azionare con una sola mano (ad esempio, tastiere Frogpad, Maltron e Twiddler). Seppure tali dispositivi siano definiti “tastiere ad accordi”, sono comunque tastiere alfanumeriche, poiché ad ogni tasto, o a qualsiasi combinazione di essi, corrisponde sempre un singolo carattere (i caratteri mancanti sono ottenuti mediante combinazioni di tasti). Partendo dal sistema ad emitastiere separate di cui sopra, è stato pertanto realizzato un dispositivo dotato di soli 10 tasti (slide 50) (corrispondente alla emitastiera sinistra del sistema Michela), al fine di realizzare una tastiera a mano singola ad accordi di tipo multicarattere-sillabico. Con esso (di fatto la prima tastiera stenografica a mano singola) è possibile rappresentare non solo singoli caratteri ma anche gruppi di caratteri o sillabe semplici. Questo dispositivo, per le sue caratteristiche, è stato soprannominato “Syllabox”.

L’uso di una sola delle due tastiere Michela ha reso necessario apportare piccole modifiche al layout (slide 51), come ad esempio il posizionamento della terza serie vocalica della Michela in sostituzione della seconda serie. Pertanto, la tastiera in oggetto è costituita da una prima serie per rappresentare i suoni consonantici e da una seconda serie per rappresentare le vocali. Ad ogni battuta è quindi possibile scrivere una singola consonante, una singola vocale o un gruppo consonante-vocale (CV). Secondo una recente ricerca (slide 52) del Dipartimento di Scienze linguistiche dell’Università Ca ‘Foscari di Venezia: «La sillaba “meno marcata” del linguaggio umano, cioè quella più semplice e più comune, è quella con struttura CV (consonante vocale). Essa è:

– la più frequente (in italiano circa il 60 per cento delle sillabe ha questa struttura);

– quella che i bambini acquisiscono per prima   (pa.pà  ta.to  be.ne)

– l’ultima che gli afasici perdono;

– l’unica presente in tutte le lingue del mondo».


Pertanto una tastiera con layout CV è probabilmente la più adatta per la realizzazione di un sistema di scrittura semplificato.

Anche in questo caso è stata sviluppata una specifica teoria ortografica per rappresentare con una sola battuta, oltre ai gruppi CV, anche alcuni dittonghi e gruppi CC (consonante-consonante), nonché caratteri in maiuscolo, caratteri numerici (insieme ovviamente allo spazio finale tra le parole). Inoltre, sono state previste alcune abbreviazioni per scrivere le poche parole monosillabiche che in italiano terminano per consonante (es: «il», «un», «per», «con», «ad», «in», etc.).
L’operatore sarà quindi in grado di scrivere in una battuta singole lettere, sillabe con struttura CV e alcune sillabe ricorrenti con struttura CCV o CCV + dittongo. Le restanti sillabe con struttura VC (vocale-consonante), o altri tipi di gruppi CCV saranno scritti in due o tre battute, assicurandosi di scrivere sempre i gruppi CV in una sola battuta [1].

Utilizzando questo dispositivo tutte le parole italiane costituite da gruppi CV possono essere scritte con una sola mano e con meno della metà delle battute necessarie con una normale tastiera QWERTY (e con due mani). Altre parole più complicate richiedono battute aggiuntive, ma il loro numero è sempre molto inferiore a quello richiesto con una tastiera QWERTY standard. Qui possiamo vedere un piccolo demo del Syllabox in azione (video 55).

Anche la tastiera «Sillabox», analogamente ai casi precedenti, potrà essere dotata di un dizionario vocale, divenendo così un sistema di vocalizzazione portatile per i portatori di handicap del linguaggio e, considerate le ridotte dimensioni, anche indossabile, oppure essere utilizzata come sistema di input ad una mano ed a scrittura cieca per svariate applicazioni: immissione testi al personal computer da parte di persone normodotate o disabili; sistemi di input  alfanumerici nei casi in cui lo spazio sia limitato; sistemi di input a scrittura cieca per la realtà virtuale (286 comandi monobattuta disponibili).

In questo video una breve dimostrazione di Syllabox come dispositivo indossabile (Video 57).

(Slide 58) Cari amici, grazie per la vostra cortese attenzione e per la vostra pazienza. Speriamo di non avervi annoiato troppo con questa presentazione. Rimaniamo disponibili per qualsiasi domanda.


[1]Le parole con sillabe di tipo CV sono molto frequenti nella lingua italiana. Pensiamo ad es. alle parole «valore», «finito», «tipici», «felice», «indicato», «comunicami» etc. Queste parole potranno essere scritte con una mano e con meno della metà delle battute che sarebbero richieste per scriverle con due mani su una tastiera ordinaria. Ad es. la parola «comunicami» (11 battute incluso lo spazio finale) verrà scritta: CO/MU/NI/CA/MI (il grassetto indica lo spazio finale incorporato nell’indicazione della sillaba) e quindi in 5 battute, incluso lo spazio finale (anziché nelle 11 che sarebbero necessarie con la tastiera QUERTY); «adesione» verrà scritta: A/DE/SIO/NE   (4 battute contro 9). Le sillabe restanti con struttura VC (vocale-consonante), CCV, CVC o CCVC verranno invece scritti in più battute, avendo cura di scrivere sempre in un’unica battuta i gruppi CV. Di seguito alcuni esempi, con indicati a fianco i risparmi in termini di battute rispetto ad una tradizionale tastiera QWERTY:  «consegnato» = CO/N/SE/GNA/TO (6 contro 11);  «attrattiva» = A/T/RA/T/TI/VA (7 conto 11); «inspiegabile» =I/N/S/PIE/GA/BI/LE (7 contro 13);  («valorizzazione» = VA/LO/RI/Z/ZA/ZIO/NE (7 contro 14).

Linguistic quality and its development in the Finnish parliamentary verbatim reporting

By Eero Voutilainen
La resocontazione parlamentare coinvolge l’oggetto del resoconto, il resocontista, il resoconto. La qualità linguistica è influenzata da vari fattori: il contesto, le aspettative del destinatario, il genere del resoconto, gli ideali, gli obiettivi e le linee guida dell’ufficio di resocontazione, la cultura della resocontazione parlamentare e le preferenze personali del resocontista.
Una resocontazione di qualità richiede alcune alterazioni linguistiche, affinché il testo scritto mantenga il contenuto, la retorica e lo stile del testo orale. Le regolamentazioni linguistiche dipendono dalla cultura e sono sia generali (dall’alto) che situazionali (dal basso).
La resocontazione parlamentare finlandese applica i seguenti principi di qualità linguistica: coerenza, completezza, flessibilità, ampia comprensione della normatività linguistica. L’ufficio si avvale dei seguenti strumenti: manuale editoriale, banca dati terminologica, team di linguisti, incontri editoriali, formazione interna, processo di lavoro. Attualmente l’ufficio ha lanciato un progetto per la semplificazione del post-editing e l’organizzazione di un sistema di feedback.
1. Quality and language regulation

Verbatim reports in the parliament are, among other things, written texts. This means that, when we examine the quality of parliamentary reporting, linguistic principles and practices are particularly important. Here I shall discuss the linguistic quality Finnish parliamentary reports. I show how linguistic quality is seen and consciously developed in the Finnish parliamentary reporting office.[1]

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines quality as ”the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of an object fulfills requirements”. Modifying this definition, we can describe the linguistic quality of verbatim reports as a degree to which a set of inherent linguistic characteristics fulfills the requirements that are assigned to the report by the people who are associated with it. This kind of definition is useful, because it is simple, and it acknowledges the importance of different stakeholders with different expectations and requirements. The quality of parliamentary reporting is not an objective notion: it depends on what is required of the report.

Actions to modify language are often named with a term language regulation. Sociolinguist Niina Hynninen has divided it further into two separate phenomena: top-down language regulation is in principle general, institutional and explicit (such as written guidelines), whereas bottom-up language regulation is situational, non-institutional and usually implicit (such as modifying language based on what feels suitable in the situation). Top-down regulation is easier to detect, but bottom-up regulation is also important, because it affects greatly how language is used and treated in everyday situations. The principles of language regulation are, naturally, highly subjective and dependent on the situation and culture. Practically, this means that there is no fit-for-all solution that would be suitable for all cultures, languages and parliaments.


2. On the nature of parliamentary reporting

The basic elements of parliamentary reporting are, in principle, quite simple:

  • the reportee: parliamentary session
  • the reporter: parliamentary stenographer with his or her tools, techniques, and ideals (such as ’authenticity’ and ’readability’) that guide the writing of the report
  • the reported: parliamentary report that aims to give a reliable written account on what happened in the parliamentary session.

The interaction of these three elements is the home of linguistic and other aspects of quality. As has been showed in many studies, the communicative resources of spoken and written language are in many cases very different. Also, even the same linguistic features are often interpreted differently in spoken and written discourse. For example, if speech is reported in writing without any editing, some important properties of spoken face-to-face interaction (such as intonation, emphasis, pauses and gestures) are erased and replaced with visual means (such as typography and layout). This might cause the readers of the report to experience the speech as less organized, harder to comprehend and stylistically less dignified than the audience or participants of the original interaction (”failing down”). On the other hand, if the report is heavily edited, for example transformed mechanically into written standard language, the reported speech will appear much more formal and decorous than the original one (”failing up”). The latter might not be a problem with all verbatim reporting, such as speech-to-text interpreting. It might even be what the client wants. But in the field of parliamentary reporting it has been often pointed out that there should not be unnecessary changes to the content or style of the original speech. Otherwise, the rhetorical and stylistic integrity of the speech is compromised, and the reader might get a false impression of the MPs public behaviour and political identity.

One key challenge from the perspective of linguistic quality in parliamentary reporting, then, is to make the right linguistic and editorial alterations to mediate the original speech reliably from spoken to written form. Here lies the paradox of verbatim reporting: something must be changed to keep things as they are. In other words, the reporter has to make some carefully chosen linguistic changes in the report, so that the parliamentary session is not changed too much in terms of content, rhetorics or style. This is caused by the fact that in reporting there is always a shift between two modes of communication that have partially different interactional resources. In sociolinguistics, applied linguistics and linguistic anthropology, this phenomenon has been described by concepts such as intermodal and intralingual translation, transcription, entextualization and recontextualization. These terms are used to describe what happens when a text is taken out of one communicative channel, genre and situation etc., and put into another that has different linguistic norms and expectations. This phenomenon is also familiar in other types of verbatim reporting, such as subtitling, speech-to-text interpreting and automatic speech recognition.

Additionally, parliamentary verbatim reporting is always affected by several background factors. Modifying the categories that linguist Lauri Haapanen has presented in his analysis of the construction of newspaper quotations, some of the key factors can be identified as follows:

  • Expected needs of the target audience(s) – There are always one or more audiences that the parliamentary report is explicitly or implicitly directed to, such as the public (whatever is assumed of it), media, MPs, administrators and researchers in different fields.
  • Genre of parliamentary report – Parliamentary report is a distinct communicational genre with its typical linguistic features, structural characteristics and socio-rhetorical functions that differ much from, say, other administrative texts that do not report spoken language.
  • Values and aims of the reporting office – Parliamentary report has always some official or unofficial aims, purposes and values attached to it by the reporting office, whether these are consciously decided or not.
  • The office guidelines – The office guidelines are explicit top-down norms, regulations and guidelines that guide verbatim reporting in a parliamentary reporting office.
  • Parliamentary reporting culture – Many reporting offices have a long tradition of writing verbatim reports, and many unofficial norms have been passed from generation to another.
  • Personal preferences and ideals – Whether we like it or not, personal preferences and ideals of individual reporters always affect the verbatim report. Because of this, the reporter should be conscious about his or her preferences to be able to control their impact.

All these and other factors vary accross countries, languages, parliaments and political cultures. This means that there will, most likely, always be different conceptions of linguistic quality in parliamentary reporting. Similarly, there will always be different editorial practices to ensure this quality both within and accross parliaments.

3. Principles of linguistic quality in Finnish parliamentary reporting

In Finnish parliamentary reporting, the main principle is to mediate the speech of the MP reliably into readable form with as few and subtle alterations as possible. This governing principle has lead to four premises that form the foundation of linguistic guidelines in the office. First, Finnish parliamentary reporting follows a wide understanding of linguistic normativity. It consciously resists what linguist Per Linell has called ”the written language bias”, and does not treat the features of spontaneous spoken language automatically as ”chaotic”, ”illogical” or ”ungrammatical” just because they differ from the grammar of written standard language. This also means a certain sensitivity towards the rhetorical and stylistic functions of linguistic variation in political interaction. Additionally, Finnish parliamentary reporting aims to be as consistent as possible, so that all MPs speeches are treated systematically and equally in the editing process, regardless of the reporter. Finnish linguistic and editorial guidelines have also been designed to be comprehensive and flexible in order to reduce the need of individual ad hoc decisions, to make the guidelines easily applicable to varying situations, and to keep the linguistic principles in balance with changing parliamentary culture and linguistic attitudes.

These premises have resulted to a number of linguistic and other editorial norms that guide Finnish parliamentary reporting on a daily basis. These language-regulatory practices include, for example, standardization of many dialectal phonological features and certain structural characteristics of spoken language, as well as omission of self-corrections, planning expressions, studderings, minor blunders and slips-of-tongue.[2] The main reason for these changes is that these linguistic details often attract more attention, can harm readability and may activate different interpretations in the written report than in the original spoken discussion. For example, minor studderings and planning expressions (’kind of’, ’like’) are often not even noticed in spoken interaction, but they might make the report harder to follow and be interpreted as signs of insecurity or incompetence in the written report. Also, the so-called technical remarks (for example about the inactivity of the microphone) and routine turns by the chairman (such as giving the floor to each MP) are edited out, because the focus of the report has traditionally been on the official speeches and not on the administrative or technical talk. Additionally, some essential information is added to the report in brackets, such as gestures, movements, interruptions and events that are not captured by the microphone.

The editorial principles of Finnish parliamentary reporting also discuss features that are usually not changed in the report. These include regionally and socially marked words, wrong facts, incorrect citations, inappropriate conduct, and complex and obscure style. Main reason for this is that, at the end, the MP is responsible for his or her speech in the session, not the reporter. Also, the omission and stylization of such features could be considered as decreasing the openness and reliability of the verbatim report. Additionally, low-register words, incorrect facts and citations, and inappropriate conduct, for example, do not harm the readability or understandability of the report. Some carefully chosen structural features are edited to protect readability, but complex and obscure style are not edited out to make the report clearer or more pleasant than the original, because doing so would change the overall appearance of the speech. This is sometimes playfully called the truth before beauty principle: a complicated and confusing speech should not appear clear and simple in writing.

It is important to note, however, that all guidelines are meant only as general practices. They are not to be followed, for example, if a doing so would mean losing an important rhetorical or stylistic meaning in an expression, or making the report especially hard to read.

4. The tools of linguistic quality development in Finnish parliamentary verbatim reporting

Many language-regulatory tools have been created in the Finnish parliamentary reporting office to develop the linguistic quality of verbatim reports. Next, I shall give a brief introduction to some of the most essential tools in this repertoire:

First, Finnish parliamentary reporting office has written an editorial manual to give systematic, concrete and detailed guidelines for verbatim reporting. The manual guides into both grammatical principles (for example how to report certain features of spontaneous speech) and other editorial practices (for example how to report parliamentary interruptions and forms of address). It also provides many practical and authentic examples to help the editing process. The reporting office has also built a parliamentary term bank that lists all the relevant and often used terms, names and expressions which have difficult orthography and are in need of standardization in the report. Techically, both the editorial manual (ca. 100 pages) and the term bank (ca. 220 pages) are executed as shared MS Word documents, which is useful in, for example, automatic searching and simultaneous use. They are good examples of top-down language regulation, because they provide general guidelines to be applied in everyday parliamentary reporting. They are also frequently updated during the course of parliamentary year by the language team that leads the development of linguistic principles and guidelines in the Finnish parliamentary reporting office.

In addition to these three practical elements, Finnish parliamentary reporters have also had regular editorial meetings every two or three weeks for several years. These 1–2 hour meetings form a platform where reporters have conversations on linguistic principles and practices of reporting, and make joint decisions based on these conversations. In these meetings, there are also practical problem-solving discussions where linguistically challenging cases are solved together. This adds a useful bottom-up element to the language regulation in the Finnish reporting office – joint sharing and demonstration of situational everyday practices. Editorial meetings have also provided a natural place for a linguistic study circle where relevant linguistic articles and books, such as grammar guides, have been critically assessed from the perspective of verbatim reporting. With a similar function, in-service training is arranged at least once a year by inviting external professionals to give linguistic lectures that are closely related to verbatim reporting. Past topics include, for example, automatic speech recognition, social norms and meanings in language use, illusion of spokenness in literary fiction, construction of quotations in journalism, and the flexibility of standard language. These trainings have also provided an opportunity to invite colleagues from related fields (for example subtitling and speech-to-text interpreting) to discuss professional matters. The language team prepares all the editorial meetings, suggests new and updated linguistic and editorial practices for joint discussion, and plans and arranges in-service training.

Also the work process during session has been organized to support linguistic quality. The reporters work together with typists, which helps concentration on the issues of editing. With very few exceptions, the reporters also work with complete speeches without a fixed time-limit, so that there can be systematic editorial decisions within speeches. Other such decisions include, for example, re-reading the reported speech without audio to notice readability problems before publication, post-editing after initial publication to ensure correctness and consistency of editorial decisions, and consulting colleagues and MPs in problematic cases.

Using these language-regulaory tools, the Finnish reporting office aims to achieve a dynamic cycle of linguistic quality where top-down and bottom-up strategies are combined: On one hand, institutional and explicit top-down regulation (such as outspoken guidelines, editorial manual and parliamentary term bank) are meant to guide everyday reporting practices. On the other hand, situational and implicit bottom-up regulation (such as situational application of existing norms, joint decisions and case excercises) is made visible, and it gives ideas for new and updated guidelines. In this way, the guidelines stay current with respect to the changing parliamentary language and culture.

5. Conclusion

Linguistic quality depends on context and is affected by many different factors, such as the expected needs of the target audience(s), genre of parliamentary report, ideals and aims of the reporting office, office guidelines, parliamentary reporting culture, and the personal preferences of the reporter. The linguistic and editorial guidelines to ensure linguistic quality in Finnish parliamentary reporting office are consciously based on the principles of consistency, comprehensiveness, flexibility, and wide understanding of linguistic normativity. These principles have lead to many concrete guidelines and practices. They have also motivated to create practical tools to develop linguistic quality. These tools include an editorial manual, a parliamentary term-bank, regular editorial meetings, in-service training, and a language team that leads the development of linguistic quality in the office. In addition, many elements in the work-process have been designed to ensure linguistic quality in the reports, such as editing complete speeches, re-reading reports without audio, post-editing, and consulting colleagues during editing.

Naturally, the quality of parliamentary reporting is not restricted only to language. For the duration of this year, the Finnish parliamentary reporting office has launched a quality development project where special attention is focused into, for example, increasing the quality of reporting during session, streamlining the post-editing phase and organizing a system for feedback in the office. All comments and suggestions on these topics are very welcome for us.

[1] For a more detailed and theoretical article on this topic, see Voutilainen, Eero (forthcoming). ”The regulation of linguistic quality in the Finnish parliamentary verbatim reporting”. Academic article manuscript under peer review.

[2] A more detailed description of these practices with practical examples in English has been presented, for example, in Voutilainen, Eero, Maarit Peltola, Teuvo Räty & Niklas Varisto (2013). ”Rules of reporting: The Principles of representing spoken discourse in the Records Office of the Finnish Parliament”, in 49th Intersteno Congress: Intersteno Parliamentary and other professional Reporters Section. Artevelde University College, Gent. 14.7.2013.

Different degrees of the sufficient handwriting quality between longhand and stenography

Hans Treschwig –– Presentation „Different degrees of the sufficient handwriting quality between longhand and stenography“ on July 25th, 2017 in Berlin at the conference during the Intersteno world congress 2017

By Hans Treschwig, Sankt Augustin (Germany)

La scrittura a mano (per esteso e stenografia) richiede una sufficiente qualità grafica per essere leggibile. A parità di grado di leggibilità, la stenografia necessita di maggiore disciplina grafica rispetto alla scrittura per esteso.
Questo è stato dimostrato da un’indagine che ha messo a confronto il sistema di scrittura corsiva latina (scrittura per esteso) e la stenografia unificata tedesca (standard stenografico).
Dal punto di vista matematico, si applicano il principio di proporzionalità e due parametri: il numero di elementi grafici del sistema di scrittura e il volume della sostanza grafica di questi elementi.
Per il primo parametro, la stenografia tedesca (157 segni) rispetto alla scrittura per esteso (59 lettere) necessita di una precisione maggiore di un fattore di 2,66.
Per il secondo parametro, si conta il numero di tratti che richiede ciascun segno: la scrittura per esteso ha una sostanza grafica di 3,45 volte maggiore rispetto alla stenografia tedesca.
Sommando 2,66 a 3,45, si ottiene che per ottenere lo stesso grado di leggibilità, la stenografia tedesca rispetto alla scrittura corsiva latina necessita di una precisione maggiore di un fattore 6.
Handwriting, both longhand and stenography, is based on a norm of its graphic elements. In reality, however, deviation from the norm is the norm. The higher the deviation the more doubtful the correct and economic readability of the written text may get. So for a reliable readability, a sufficient degree of handwriting quality is indispensable.
But there is a difference between longhand and stenography: Stenography, as generally known, clearly needs more graphic discipline than longhand.
This presentation
1. points out the causes of this difference and
2. establishes a quantitative statement for a numerical description of the difference.
Why doesthe requirement on handwriting quality differbetweenlonghand and stenography?

The answer to this question can be derived from two criteria:

  1. from the different number of phonologically or morphologically relevant graphic elements of both writing systems,
  2. from the different extent of the graphic substances of texts written in both writing systems.

In this conclusion, the following the following logical elements are hidden:

  1. The more graphic elements a writing system has, the more similarities among them result; in other words: the more graphic elements, the more the distinctivity of the elements is challenged and the distinctive distances between the them become smaller; or yet in other words: the more graphic elements, the more probable a non-precise handwriting raises the risk of word confusions or unreadability.
  2. The more voluminous the graphic substance of theelements is, the more graphic distinguishing marks can be put at it. Reversely expressed: The poorer the substance of the elements is, the less graphic distinguishing marks can be used by the writing system to guarantee sufficient distinctivity.


The three premiseson aim and objects of the investigation.

Before going into details, three premises are put forward:

  1. A comparing statement about longhand and stenography only makes sense if we assume matching degrees of readabilityfor the concrete application of both writing systems. That is, a text has to be readable completely, correctly and in a speed of 60 syllables/min. One could as well choose a higher speed;that, however, should be applied for both,longhand and stenography.
  2. Regarding the number of graphic elements and the extent of the graphic substance, I choose the Latin cursive handwriting systemas the longhand standard. It is used in many countries in the world. That being said, I donot choose the unconnected block-letter-system which nowadays is taught in many primary schools as the handwriting system for regular use. In my opinion,education leaderstook the wrong track here; I hope, they recognize this fact as soon as possible and reverse it.
  3. Regarding the same two parameters, I choose “Deutsche Einheitskurzschrift” (DEK; German unified stenography),with its official version from 1. August 1968 applied in Germany and Austria, as stenography standard.More specifically, I limit my investigation to its basic standard called “Verkehrsschrift” (correspondence style).


A mathematical process to derive a comparison factor on the realization degree of the graphic norm for both longhand and stenography

Both criteria named above, the number of relevant elements as well as the extent of graphic substance of a text, can be measured. So, they can be operationalized fairly comfortably.

From a mathematical point of view, the minimum realization degree of the graphic norm, on the one hand, proportionally depends on the number of elements of the writing system; on the other hand, it reciprocally depends on the extent of graphic substance of these elements. To allow room for error, I limit the intuitive proportionality and refer to it as “principally proportional” as well as “principally reciprocal”. I do this because one could argue that between longhand and stenography there may be small differences in the frequency distributions of graphic elements; this fact could lead to minor chances in proportionality and inverse proportionality.

This assumption of proportionality now needs to be applied on the comparison between longhand and stenography.

The German alphabet as used in the Latin cursive handwriting system comprises 26 basic letters in addition to 3 vowel mutations as well as the letter “ß” (Eszett). That makes a total of 30 lower case letters. The basic letters and vowel mutations also exist in an upper case letter version, totalling 29 upper case letters. The grand total is 59 letters.

The equivalent to the stock of letters in longhand also exists in stenography, called signs. Deviating from the wording in the standard, I include the representation of vowels in the stock of signs, too. I do not include, however, elements that do not have equivalents in longhand, e. g., the hook. Neither do I include the “vowel-y” due to the fact that it is also used as a consonant and counted as such. For counting purposes, one has to account for the fact that the signs l, s, ss/Eszett exist in two rotational variants. Their shape is the same, independent of the rotation direction. Yet, in connecting with neighbouring signs, i. e., in their individual perception that look different; thus, in accordance with their alternative rotations, one has to count them double.

So, DEK – not incorporating short forms (“Kürzel”) – includes 57 consonant signs, 3 alternative variants of  l, s, ss/Eszett, 12 vowel signs, 12 representations of vowels and 5 signs for syllables, which makes a total of 89 basic signs. What’s more, a relatively high number of signs must be added that is part of the short form list of Verkehrsschrift, if and only if they differ from the 89 basic signs in shape or position. The number of these signs is 68. That makes a grand total of 157 signs or elements, resp.

This total of 157 elements in basic stenography is now divided by the total of 59 elements in longhand. That brings us to an interesting interim finding: To rely on a comparable readability, DEK-Verkehrsschrift compared to longhand needs a higher precision by factor 2.66 only due to its more numerous element stock.

Now, let’s turn to the second parameter: the magnitude of signs’ graphic substance. To measure that, one chooses the number of strokes each sign requires. The number of strokes include upstrokes, downstrokes, flatstrokes, dots. Some strokes are counted twofold because of their special shape. Stroke counting can be compared analogously in longhand and stenography because the latter practically uses components of the Latin handwriting system.

With the intention of establish a solid representative lingual survey, I have selected ten sentences. I used a mechanism of coincidence to select a text length of 336 syllables from different text sources, text types and topical or specialist fields. I wrote each sentence in both, in DEK-stenography and Latin cursive writing in full accordance to the norms. Then, I counted the strokes for each variant. Finally, I divided these totals reciprocally, given the inverse relationship, i. e., I divided the total number of strokes in longhand by the total of stenography. The result is shown as a table (the figures in brackets are standardized to a text volume of 100 syllables):


sentence no. number of syllables Total of writing strokes in Ratio longhand vs. stenography
stenography (DEK-Verkehrsschrift) longhand (Latin cursive writing system)
1 30 82 (273) 283 (943) 3.45
2 42 125 (298) 321 (764) 2.57
3 32 80 (250) 300 (938) 3.75
4 29 85 (293) 277 (955) 3.26
5 34 78 (229) 332 (976) 4.26
6 25 73 (292) 294 (1176) 4.03
7 45 118 (262) 462 (1027) 3.92
8 25 77 (308) 282 (1128) 3.66
9 41 111 (271) 272 (663) 2.45
10 33 89 (270) 343 (1039) 3.85
Total→ 336 918 (273) 3166 (942) 3.45


As the data shows, the extent to graphic substance of DEK-stenography compared to Latin cursive writing is the inverse of 3.45; in other words, Latin cursive writing has 3.45 times more graphic substance than DEK-stenography. So, only based on the extent of graphical substance, basic DEK-stenography is 3.45 times more sensitive than Latin cursive writing.

Given that both parameters work together, one must add both statistics: 2.66 + 3.45 = 6.11. The decimals can be disregarded easily because an approximation is sufficient. The approximation is even more warranted given the aforementioned small limitation of proportionality.


The comparison statistic is found

Thus, the finding of this analysis is: Assuming comparable and adequate readability (complete, correct, economically justifiable reading speed of 60 syllables per minute), handwriting in DEK-stenography needs a discipline in precision that is greater than that of Latin cursive writing by factor 6.

I assume that this type of comparison statistic has not been calculated and published before.

Three final remarks:

  1. In my opinion, the comparison factor 6 can be of great use to inform new learners of stenography. It transfers a raw perspective on how more important it is in stenography than in longhand to write precisely.
  2. Naturally, the comparison factor raises even further when higher levels of stenography (typically called “Schnellschrift”/fast writing) are considered. Here, the stock of signs grows and the graphic substance decreases.
  3. I would like to make a suggesting to the auditorium. I would be pleased if international stenographers that use other stenographic systems also calculate the specific comparison statistics and report at the next Intersteno Congress. ■

What makes a quality transcript in Parliamentary reporting — Quantitative analysis on post-editing in Japanese and European Parliaments and changes over past ten years

Tatsuya Kawahara
Professor of Kyoto University, Japan
Consultant to House of Representatives, Japanpresented with Masaya Morikawa
House of Representatives, Japan
La trascrizione è un processo che converte il parlato in un testo scritto accurato e leggibile. I resoconti parlamentari rispettano standard e linee guida che variano in base alla lingua, al paese e ad altri fattori.
Per la revisione di una trascrizione si deve tener conto di diversi fattori: eliminazione delle ridondanze, correzione di errori ed espressioni colloquiali e a volte dialettali, correzioni strutturali e semantiche.
È stata condotta un’analisi basata sui corpora utilizzando sia le trascrizioni delle riunioni ufficiali sia le trascrizioni dei discorsi integrali del Parlamento europeo e della Dieta giapponese.
L’analisi è stata effettuata anche in base al tipo di riunione e allo stile adottato. In alcuni casi è stato ridotto il numero di correzioni: ciò è dovuto alla diffusione via Internet e al riconoscimento automatico del parlato.
Questo sistema è stato introdotto nella Dieta giapponese nel 2011 al posto della stenografia e viene perfezionato continuamente. Il testo prodotto è corretto dai resocontisti che ascoltano l’audio ed è poi sottoposto a revisione.
Attualmente l’attenzione è rivolta anche alla formazione dei resocontisti e dei revisori.
1. Background
Transcription is a process to convert speech into text, and there are wo goals: one is accuracy or how faithful to speech, and the other is readability or how easy to read. They are often in trade-off relationships. Thus, standards or guidelines in Parliamentary reports have been strictly designed and enforced compared with private sectors. They are, however, different across languages and countries, and also change over time. They may be affected by other factors such as TV broadcasting, SNS, and use of automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology.2. Edits in transcription process
There are many factors requiring edits in the transcription process. First of all, disfluency must be removed. Other kinds of redundancy need to be removed. Then, grammatical errors must be corrected. And some of colloquial expressions should be rephrased to formal expression. Last but not least, speech does not have explicit punctuations unlike text, so we need to insert periods and commas in appropriate places. In addition to these edits, some structural modifications are sometimes made to improve readability. Moreover, some semantic corrections could be made for apparent mistakes, but this is a big issue. These are explained one by one.2.1. Removal of redundancy
Fillers, such as “um” and “ahh” in English, must be definitely removed. They are not transcribed by human stenographers in the first place. They are also automatically eliminated by ASR systems. Repeats and repairs must also be removed, but their automatic removal is difficult.
Discourse markers, such as “OK” and “yes” in English, can be kept, but too many tokens reduce readability. Other extraneous expressions, such as “Thank you”, can also be kept, but removal of them would improve readability2.2. Correction of errors and colloquial expressions
There are some kinds of grammatical errors whose correction is mandatory, for example, missing or incorrect particles such as “a” and “an”, and improper use of functional words such as “in” and “on”. Some kinds of colloquial expressions should also be corrected, for example, “was like” changed to “said” and “but” changed to ”however”. But we note language use changes over time. Handling of dialect is also an issue. While some dialect cannot be understood by many readers, dialect is often used to express an identity of the speaker.2.3. Structural and semantic corrections
Some structural reordering is conducted, for example, “Finnish incoming presidency” is changed to “incoming Finnish presidency”. We often need to split a long sentence into a sequence of plain sentences. In these cases, careful proof-reading is needed.
On the other hand, semantic correction needs attentions. While apparent errors such as mistakes of “billion” and “million” should be corrected via a proper process, it is a question if errors of proper name or fact errors should be corrected because MPs should be responsible for their statements. Especially when the errors affected the following interaction in the meeting, they should not be corrected.3. Corpus analysis in European Parliament and Japanese Diet
3.1. Used corpora
Corpus-based analysis was conducted by using transcripts of European Parliament and Japanese Diet (the House of Representatives). From European Parliament proceeding transcripts, English speaking parts in some plenary sessions selected in 2007 are used. With regard to Japanese Diet, a number of sessions in committee meetings held during 2005-2007 were selected. In addition to official proceeding transcripts, faithful transcripts of spoken words including fillers and disfluencies were prepared for the analysis. In fact, these faithful transcripts are prepared for development of ASR systems. General statistics of the two corpora are shown in Table 1.3.2. Analysis of edit categories
Table 2 lists the statistics of edit categories described in the previous section. We can see that majority of edits in Japanese Diet is removal of fillers and discourse markers, while English needs many grammatical corrections and syntax reordering. Thus, there is a different tendency according to the language.

Table 1 General statistics of corpora

European Parliament Japanese Diet
#words (faithful) 30.9K 418K
#words (official) 27.1K 379K
% of edited words 20.5% 12.9%


Table 2 Statistics of Edit Categories

European Parliament Japanese Diet
Remove Fillers 11.6% 46.7%
Repeats/repairs 11.0% 9.4%
Discourse markers  1.8% 18.4%
Extraneous expressions 16.8% 3.0%
Correct Grammatical errors 20.1% 7.5%
Colloquial expressions 18.0% 8.4%
Reorder 19.6% 5.9%

Here are typical edit patterns observed for English in European Parliament. Most frequently removed words other than fillers are “thank you”, “I think”, and “also”, while the most frequently inserted are particles and functional words such as “the”, “that”, “a”, ”also” and “and”. The most frequently corrected patterns are “but -> however”, “thank you -> Mr.”,  “would -> should”, “our -> the”, and “this -> that”.

3.3. Analysis per meeting category and changes over time
The occurrence ratio of edits per committee in Japanese Diet is shown in Figure 1. There is a tendency in 2007 that less edits were made in the Commission on the Constitution, the Committee on Budget and the Question Time. While one-on-one interaction is a norm in other committees, the Commission on the Constitution adopts the style of free discussions by all members. This style affects the transcription process. The Committee on Budget and the Question Time are usually broadcasted on the national TV channel, and this may affect the editing process.
In Figure 1, we can see a significantly different tendency from 2007 to 2016. The ratio of edits has been reduced by 40% over the ten years.

4. Discussions
There are several causes of the reduction of edits. Most significantly, phrase reordering is not done any more. Some discourse markers now kept, and some repeats are allowed such as those expressing emphasis. Moreover, many colloquial expressions are getting accepted. These suggest that the transcripts become more verbatim than before.
There are some possible reasons for this trend. First is deployment of the ASR system. The new system has been used for all meetings since 2011, and reporters edit a faithful transcript, which contains errors, generated by the system. In the old system based on stenography, they typed in text with editing in their mind. Second factor is Internet broadcasting. All meetings are broadcasted via Internet, and they are archived and can be accessed at any time, and thus can be referred in social media. With these factors, the guideline by editors may have been changed although there is no written guideline in Japanese Diet.

Figure 1 Ratio of edits per committee in 2007 and 2016

5. ASR system performance
In 2011, the House of Representatives of Japan introduced the ASR system which directly transcribes MP’s speech recorded by the microphone in the meeting room, which was presented at the IPRS meeting in Intersteno 2011 in Paris. This is the first and still only one running system in the national-level Parliament. The language model is updated every year to incorporate new words and the acoustic model is updated using the meeting audio data after general election.
ASR performance in terms of Japanese character accuracy is monitored for most of the meetings. Initially in 2011, the accuracy was 89.7%, but it has been improved and saturated around 91% since 2012. Most recently, introducing the deep learning technology improves the accuracy by 3-4% absolute.

6. Usability and Effect of ASR system in House of the Representatives
After five years of the ASR (automatic speech recognition)-based system deployment, we have conducted a survey among reporters in the Record Department to find out how they feel about the new system. The reporter’s job is to edit a five-minute long text produced by the ASR system. Reporters edit the text by listening to the audio, and then submit the draft to the editor. A team of reporters is made up both with stenographers and non-stenographer reporters who have not been trained on stenography.
In this survey, we found that a majority of the reporters felt that it took less time and labor to finish a draft with the ASR system, and more than 80% said they are satisfied with the performance of the ASR system. Some also expressed the positive opinion that the system would make it possible for those who have not been trained on stenography to produce an edited draft upon proper training. We concluded that the ASR system is positively received.
Currently, training of reporters is conducted as follows. Those who have joined Record Department as a regular civil servant without any training on stenography goes through six month long basic training, and then one and a half year long practical training under the supervision and guidance of an experienced stenographer. To ensure the accuracy and speed required for the production of parliamentary proceedings, it is essential that reporters can produce high-quality transcript at the stage of the initial editing. In order to produce high-quality transcript, it is necessary for reporters to acquire knowledge and skills to listen to and understand the speech correctly.
In a view of an editor who checks drafts submitted by reporters, drafts submitted by non-stenographer reporters who have not been trained on stenography are getting as good as those by the trained stenographer. It suggests that the training system is so far well-functioning. This year we started an experiment with an expedited training program for reporters.
What is equally important is training of editors. There was a report at the IPRS meeting in Intersteno 2015 in Budapest that recently an emphasis is made more on fidelity to actual speech than readability of the text. Likewise, in the House of Representatives in Japanese Diet, the proceeding has been produced in a way more faithful to actual speech. This probably has to do with the increasing availability of SNS and real-time video streaming as mentioned before. We expect that the discrepancy between speech and text will further be minimized in the future.
As the society changes, so does parliamentary proceedings. But for us the challenge is to develop an effective and efficient program to train future officials to produce high-quality parliamentary proceedings.

“Stenographic civilization” Effect of German cursive theory to Japanese,Chinese,Korean and Indonesian” And J.A.Schumpeter’s Stenography

Tsuguo Kaneko (Japan)
Sono Tsuguo Kaneko dal Giappone e il mio intervento sulla civiltà stenografica verterà intorno a quattro temi: il carattere e la lettera sono nati dopo la lingua orale; la tachigrafia è nata come prova dell’oralità; il risultato della stenografia moderna è la teoria corsiva; la stenografia di Schumpeter.
Ai tempi dei geroglifici forme stenografiche coesistevano con le lettere antiche.
Il rinascimento stenografico con la “Characterie” di Bright nel 1588 fu seguito dalla teoria geometrica.
A fine 700 nacque la scuola corsiva in Inghilterra, completata in Germania con Gabelsberger nel 1834 e diffusa alle lingue agglutinanti SOV dall’Eurasia all’Asia, prima in Giappone con Ohba e poi in Cina con Ting Chao e YaWei.
Hirano sviluppò il sistema EPSEMS per il giapponese e l’inglese e Wen sviluppò il sistema stenografico corsivo cinese, la “Stenografia sintetica”.
Ting Chao e Se Ryan svilupparono il sistema stenografico corsivo coreano, seguito da quello indonesiano Groote.
Oggi il termine “speech-to-text technology” racchiude i sistemi di scrittura veloce.
Io ho decifrato il manoscritto stenografico e il promemoria di Joseph Allois Schumpeter, ora disponibile in PDF.
My name is Tsuguo Kaneko from Japan. Today, I am going to report on stenographic civilization.
My plan consisted of four topics. First, character and letter was born after spoken language. Visual language was invented for two purposes. The purpose of one was to produce the spoken evidence. The other was the symbol of power. Second, Tachygraphy was invented for produce evidence of spoken fact. Third, modern stenographic result obtained cursive theory and completed in Germany. Cursive theory translated to foreign languages. In the beginning, it was in Europe and spread to Ural language. Then, it translated into Japanese, Chinese and Korean language. And triple jumping, from Germany, Holland and reached to Indonesia. Fourth, I would like to report Schumpeter’s stenography.
This is my idea of the chronology of stenographic civilization.

Ancient times, mankind invented Hieroglyph. Chinese character changed gradually complex style. Slowly, hieroglyph was changing into flowing style. Japanese cursive Kana took similar procedure. Hieratic and demotic were gradually derived form from hieroglyph. We can find stenographic phenomenon in hieroglyph.

This slide shows ancient Tironian note. Stenography in ancient times co-existed with letter. Tironian note is one of the intangible cultural assets in the world. The ancient letters resemble Tironian note very much.

Second period was stenographic renaissance. “Characterie” by Timothe Bright in 1588 was a revival of such ancient Tachygraphy. Strange to say, Bright’s alphabet resembles Phoenician alphabet.


Stenography is defined as one of speech to text methods under the comprehensive concept of letter and character.

After stenographic renaissance, geometric theory was developed at first in Line-writing stenography in which straight lines and arcs adopted as basic signs.

In stenography, geometric theory has achieved high performance to code word spelling. But, challengers to write naturally aimed cursive theory. Cursive school has its origin in England and German completed cursive theory finally.

The first cursive theory was observed in the book by Simon Bordley in 1787.In 1802, Richard Roe developed clearly cursive script in his publication.

Franz Xaver Gabelsberger established cursive concept in his original system. As well as geometric system, Gabelsberger achieved high speed writing by his cursive system, and his verbatim style was released in 1834.

German cursive theory was handed down in German speaking world in the beginning. Second, it spread to the same descent countries. Then it spread to the other descent, for example Ural language. After all, it gradually to exotic countries by the triple jumping. German cursive theory applied to agglutinative language and SOV word order languages. Gabelsberger-Markovits system for Hungarian / Magyar was developed by Ivan Markovits in 1841. Nevanlinna adopted Gabelsberger theory for Finnish in 1872.

If Leonardo da Vinci had known stenography, what stenography would he have invented? He seems to like vertical line very much.

German cursive was introduced to the eastern part of Eurasia. Asian and far east Asian languages are quite different from European language. Western stenographic civilization gave much impact to Asia. For example, Pen writing motion order, concept of phonetics and so on.

The former, writing order column that is “up to down” and “left to right” standard made perfectly changed Japanese style to Western style now.

A viscount Mohri developed the first Japanese cursive “Mohri system” based on Faulmann system in 1919 after 30 years passed from start. A parliament reporter wrote this script. Mohri designed consonants and vowels mainly by line strokes. Also he created the method to reduce the load to write vowels.

“Intersteno” is another value which is the artificial letter for speed writing by Kunovski. Some Japaneses, who are Esperantists, tried to adopt its theory for Japanese. Itaru Ohba challenged to design “Instersteno” to Japanese in 1931. This was the first try.

Cursive Portuguese version of Stloze was applied to Japanese by J.A. Degen in 1930.

Prof. Yan Ting Chao is the father of cursive system in China. He contributed much for Chinese stenography as well as prof. Tang YaWei. They respectively developed the first Chinese cursive systems in 1952. Being influenced from Russian GESS, Sakalof system.

Mr. Akihito Hirano, he mastered several Japanese stenography systems as following  Waseda, Nakane, Ishimura, and Morita system. Then Gregg, Pitman, Takusari76, V systems. And now he developed a new EPSEMS system for Japanese and English. Hirano is a genius in stenography.

The first Chinese stenography system was geometric system in 1896. The old gentleman, in the front row, second person from the right is Mr. Cai Zhang. He was the second son of the inventor of Chinese stenography, Cai Xi Yong.

GESS was the unified system in Soviet. As DEK was based on Gabelsberger. GESS was developed on the basis of the Sokolov system.

fter ending the Pacific War, Russian stenography introduced to China. Next year, prof. Yan Ting Chao and prof. Tang Ya Wei respectively developed the first Chinese cursive systems and released in the journal of 1952.

The joint study to develop new theory made a fruit in “3 Y system” by prof. Yan Ting Chao, prof. Yawei and prof. Yan De Qin.

Prof. Yan Ting Chao developed “Renmin Xin Suji Fangen”. Yan designed basic alphabet based on phonetics of Chenese as phoneme unit. Also he took the method in symbolizing vowels by strokes, longer and shorter strokes and small circles.

Prof. Tang Ya Wei also developed “Gon Nong Hua Suji Fangan”.

Prof. Yan Ting Chao compared early three systems. Tang means Prof. Tang Ya Wei. And Laozu means cursive Chinese Stenography system.

This is the basic alphabet named “Synthetic stenography” by Su Wen. In this system Su designed cursive and half cursive mixed.

Korea is the only one country that succeeded to enforce and firmly established the artificial phonogram Hangul in the world.

A Chinese professor Yan Ting Chao developed cursive Korean stenography system with Om Se Ryan who lived in the Self-governing Korean of China.

Stenographic civilization flows in the world, like as this slide.

While colonial period, Groote system was introduced to Indonesia. It stimulated to develop stenography for Indonesian. “Grenderen system” seems to be most early one. In 1968, The government authorized “Karundeng system” as the standard stenography in Indonesia.

Tachygraphy, stenography, steno CAT, CART, concept is still changing. Today we call it speech to text technology.In this figure by Birgit Nofts many expressions exist.

1981 Intersteno congress gave me a chance to meet Mr. Steno Lion, the former Manfred Kehrer. Several years later, Dr. Shin-Ichi Uraki requested me to decipher the stenographic manuscript and memorandum written by Joseph Allois Schumpeter. I wrote two letters to East and West Germany. Mr. Kehrer introduced me Mr. Heym. Everything went well. Uraki completed his work and published a book. And all of data of Schumpeter’s manuscript and steno memo was given to me. Completing to digitalize all steno data in PDF. This is a sample of Schumpeter’s steno script in his work. You can get a DVD from me now. Today I brought some DVD copies. I hope you would study his work now.

Thank you very much for listening my report.                Tsuguo.kaneko(at)gmail.com



A new Cursive Bilingual Stenography system for English and Japanese for personal use “EPSEMS”

Akihito Hirano (Giappone)

Esistono tre tipi di sistemi stenografici: geometrici, corsivi, alfabetici e sistemi che combinano elementi dei tre tipi.
Ho imparato da autodidatta i cinque sistemi stenografici del giapponese e, notando la maggiore efficienza dei sistemi corsivi rispetto a quelli geometrici, ho sviluppato EPSEMS, un sistema semplice di stenografia corsiva per uso personale per l’inglese, il giapponese e l’inglese come lingua globale.
È un sistema dal tratto sottile in cui le lettere vocaliche, a differenza della stenografia tradizionale, non sono scritte in segni fonetici, bensì in linee dritte ascendenti che si distinguono in base alla lunghezza del tratto. Ogni suono è categorizzato nel gruppo A, I e U, cioè suoni simili si indicano con lettere simili. Le consonanti, che dipendono dalla posizione delle vocali, sono linee discendenti e sono distinte in sorde e sonore in base alla forma del tratto finale. Inoltre, vi sono lettere di base per i non madrelingua inglese e lettere abbreviate per le parole frequenti in inglese.
Nei sistemi stenografici che richiedono la riproducibilità del parlato si deve poter leggere quanto possibile; per questo motivo il sistema è efficiente.


Good morning Ladies & Gentlemen.
My name is Akihito Hirano from Japan.
Thank you for the opportunity to make this presentation today.
Moreover, I appreciate the efforts and consideration of the Intersteno committee members.
My mother tongue is Japanese that can be said to be the opposite language to English.
Therefore, I think that there are confusing parts to understand in my expression and pronunciation, but I would be pleased if you could hear it for a while.

First of all, the title “bilingual” means Japanese and English here.
EPSEMS developed as stenography system to write English and Japanese, but today I would like to focus on talking, especially on EPSEMS English shorthand which was developed to write English as a global language.
I report on the composition of the plan and the main theory.

I adopted the principle of phonetism in the composition of EPSEMS.

Almost all the Japanese stenography systems currently adopted the syllabic basis alphabet, but I adopted the basic alphabet with phoneme units in English and Japanese for the cursive style new system.

In the new system, vowels are expressed by the line letters, and consonants have phonetically related in the way of writing unvoiced sound and voiced sound.

Also, depending on the position where we start writing the vowel letters, there are ways to completely omit consonant letters such as “h, m, n, s”.

And EPSEMS has double consonant letters, triple consonant letters, which is very effective in writing both English and Japanese.

As an application specific to Japanese, EPSEMS adopted abbreviating method such as “Initial letter writing for shortcuts” which has applied widely to express frequent words by initial syllable of each Chinese characters.

Furthermore, the fruit of Japanese geometric theory, EPSEMS adopted the shortening method by small signs for special sounds in Chinese characters sounds, and writing Japanese conjugated forms for example “R”syllable.

Here I will categorize the handwriting stenography system into three types.

The three types are geometric systems, cursive systems, and alphabetic systems.

Geometric systems are mainly based on circle, an arc which is a part of circle and straight lines.

Cursive systems are mainly based on the motions of ordinary handwriting like the cursive characters of the Latin alphabet.

Alphabetic systems are mainly based on characters from the Latin alphabet or a part of its shape.

In addition, there are also several systems combining the elements of these three types.

I started to learn Japanese stenography for the first time 41 years ago by self taught.

In Japan there existed Mohri system as a cursive system in the past, but it has already been in the past.

Alphabetic systems also exist, but they are not so common.

That’s reason why I learned geometric systems for Japanese.

After I finished learning Waseda system, I also finished learning Nakane system, Ishimura system and Morita system.

After that, I learned and studied Takusari-76 system and V system.

And as English stenography systems, I also learned and studied Pitman shorthand, Gregg shorthand and Teeline shorthand.

In the past, I had passed the first grade skill test of stenography which is the most high level professional license by Japan Stenography Association.

In addition, I passed the professional test by each of five kinds of stenography system.

And those five systems are Nakane, Waseda, Morita, Ishimura and Shisa system.

Incidentally, Shisa system is a geometric system developed by me.

I confirmed the weak points of geometric systems from those experiences.

Those are lack of legibility, not so easy to translate, not so easy to write fluently.

Geometric systems often use geometric and artificial strokes.

The reason why I started developing the English stenography system was inspired by the study of the cursive stenography theory.

It happened that I knew the theory of cursive systems and found the possibility to solve the weak points of geometric systems.

So I challenged to develop a new cursive stenography system.

That is EPSEMS, and the goal is to be a type of personal use.

The worth of existence of the stenography system that can be used by professional stenographer is great.

However, one of the goals of EPSEMS development is that it is not necessary to be such a stenography system.

That is exactly a stenography system specialized for personal use.

A stenography system which is easy to learn, easy to write and easy to translate for many people.

A stenography system of the theoretical composition with simplicity, clarity and regularity.

In personal use, if the writing speed of up to about two thirds of the professional stenography writers level is ensured at the most, it seems to be beneficial for most stenography users.

As an extreme example here, as a daily tool of transportation, Volkswagen Golf is more convenient than expensive Ferrari.

In other words, the professional stenography system with a large amount of learning is Ferrari, and for two thirds use, Volkswagen Golf is more convenient.

EPSEMS was designed with the most emphasis on this two thirds.

And the two thirds can be achieved even by using only a small part of abbreviated letters for representing frequent words in addition to basic letters.

As a merit of cursive systems, EPSEMS keeps very fluent stenography letters more than geometric systems in a sense, too.

“Easy to write” often leads to “easy to read”.

The logical composition of vowel letters and consonant letters is important first.

In particular, it is important to associate the shape of the stroke between the related sounds.

This leads to ease of learning and readability.

Some systems use thick strokes and thin strokes to distinguish related sounds.

But EPSEMS uses only thin strokes and makes distinctions of the related consonant sounds by the difference in the end shape of the stroke.

And EPSEMS makes distinctions of the related vowel sounds by the length of the stroke.

English is a relatively easy-to-read language even if much of the vowels are omitted.

In other words, English is easy to read if consonants are expressed firmly.

In Pitman shorthand, Gregg shorthand, Teeline shorthand, which can be said to be the three major methods of English stenography systems, we often omit vowels.

Japanese is a relatively difficult-to-read language if we omit a lot of vowels.

In other words, Japanese is easy to read if vowels are expressed firmly.

It seems that we have not seen much of the day so far, although there was an attempt in the English stenography based on the cursive theory.

However, from the phonological structure of English, the cursive theory is sufficiently effective.

EPSEMS is compatible both English and Japanese, but the difference between Japanese and English is wide and big..

English is an inflectional language, closed syllable language, consonant superiority language.

In contrast, Japanese is an agglutinative language, open syllable language, vowel superiority language, and one clause is often long.

For the reasons above, when writing Japanese with EPSEMS, the length of the stenography letters are often longer than the case of writing English.

As for English stenography for writing English as a global language, it is expected that it will be equipped with a vowel indication method that is easy to understand and handle for people other than native.

For that purpose, EPSEMS is designed to be able to write English vowels naturally and rationally.

The categorization of English vowels is properly done.

To make it easier for non-native speakers to read not only vowels but also consonants, EPSEMS has basic letters structure of theoretical and phonetic.

It is designed to be sufficiently usable even only with basic letters.

By the way, basically, in today’s many stenography systems, each words are written as we pronounce like phonetic signs.

In EPSEMS, the vowel letters are written in straight lines and logically categorized into A group, I group, and U group for each related sound.

Within the same group, the same shape of letter is used, and each letters are distinguished only by the difference in length.

And in EPSEMS, in order to distinguish unvoiced sound and voiced sound in consonants, it is expressed by the difference in the end shape of the stroke.

In many Japanese geometric stenography systems, the indication of voiced sound has been done in an ambiguous way such as adding dot to unvoiced sound letters or changing thickness of unvoiced sound letters.

However, especially in today, there are many Japanese language from foreign languages, mainly English.

Considering unreadable words from the context, it is desirable that even voiced sound can be written with one stroke as in EPSEMS.

In the stenography systems requiring reproducibility of speech, it is desirable to be able to read as much as possible even when the letters are distorted.

Furthermore, it is desirable to indicate similar sounds with similar letters in not only consonants but also vowels.

Let me show you concrete examples of English stenography letters.

In the beginning, it is the Latin alphabet vowels “a, e, i, o, u”.

We call “a and o” as related sound “group A”, and use the straight line of the upper right direction.

The length of “a” is 1 unit, the length of “o” is 2 units.

We call “i and e” as related sound “group I”, and use the straight line of the horizontal direction.

The length of “i” is 1 unit, the length of “e” is 2 units.

“U” uses a straight line with an intermediate angle between “group A” and “group I”, and is called “group U”.

The length of “u” is 2 units, the length of “[ʌ]” is 1 unit.

So like this, “cat”, “dog”, “knit”, “net”. “luck”, “look”.

In order to express phonetic sign of the same shape as colon(:), add a dot to the immediate right of the end of the vowel letters.

The stenography letter “[a:]” is used for “[ai]”.

And “[a:]” is expressed in a different way.

“Eat” begins writing “t” from the dot position, unlike “it”.

There are other vowel variations, but the description is omitted.

As mentioned above, vowel letters are expressed by lines that tend to rise, such as upper right direction and horizontal direction.

In contrast, consonant letters are expressed by lines that tend to descend, such as lower left direction.

Here, I will talk about correspondence between unvoiced sound like “t” and voiced sound like “d”.

For example, “t” is expressed by a straight line of lower left direction.

“d” is expressed by changing the end shape of the stroke of “t” in a hook-like manner.

And “b” is expressed by attaching a small circle to the end of the stroke of “p”.

I omit the description of other consonants here.

The following is a brief explanation of EPSEMS.

It’s like this, “an”, “cat”, “on”, “dog”.

Although there are convenient letters that express English sounds including double consonant letters and triple consonant letters, we can write English well with even only the basic letters.

The following are just a few examples of the EPSEMS abbreviations.

In addition to that, various abbreviated letters are prepared for frequent words in English.

However, it will be more comfortable and smooth as stenography by using dozens of carefully selected ones among them.

The following is the lyrics of “Moon River” written using a very basic EPSEMS abbreviations.

Next, it shows what was written in advanced, high speed style.

Can you see the difference with basic style?

I will explain about the consonant omission from now.

By starting the writing of the vowel letters from a position slightly higher than the ordinary writing line, consonant “s” that appears just before is omitted.

By starting the writing of the vowel letters from a position slightly lower than the ordinary writing line, consonant “m” that appears just before is omitted.

Also, there are ways to completely omit consonant letters such as “h, n”.

In addition, methods for faster writing by changing the shape of consonant letters are prepared for several sounds.

Here, please take a look at some of the EPSEMS shorthand samples.

This is Japanese.

This is English written as “Merry Christmas”.

This is Japanese written as “Shu-ha-ri”.

This is Japanese, too.

This is Japanese written as “En-ri-e-do-gon-gu-jou-do”.

This is English and Japanese, mixed with longhand and shorthand.

This is lyrics of Bob Dylan’s song “The times they are a changin’ “, and is written in English and Japanese.

These are the sayings of John Lennon and Michael Jordan, and is written in English and Japanese, too.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to those who took care of me.

I appreciate many stenography inventors and other stenography person concerned.

It is especially thanks to the books written by Mr. Tsuguo Kaneko that I was able to learn a lot of knowledge of stenography when I had less information.

After that, I have been received many suggestions and teachings from him.

Moreover, I thank my beloved parents, brother and two sisters, my wife, son and daughter, all my family who have always watched me and supported over.

Thank you so much for your time and attention. (THE END)

The Shorthand for Music and Dance – The written remains

By Jorge Bravo, Azat Ambartsoumian and Diana Campi

Generalmente si ritiene che l’uso della stenografia sia rivolto soltanto alla registrazione degli interventi in parlamento o delle tetimonianze in tribunale, ma ve ne sono molteplici applicazioni, enfatizzate nella letteratura classica e dal premio Nobel Ostrom.

Vi sono inoltre sistemi stenografici che registrano i suoni e i movimenti.

I sistemi stenografici della musica furono sviluppati nell’800 e 900 in Europa e nelle Americhe: Jean Kutahialian parlò per primo di stenografia della musica e agli inizi del 900 Angel Menchaca in Argentina creò un sistema di annotazione musicale.

Esiste anche la stenografia della danza: fu sviluppata dalle antiche civiltà in India, Egitto e Grecia e standardizzata tramite lettere e simboli astratti dei movimenti della danza classica nel 400-500 in Italia, Francia e Spagna. Seguirono ulteriori perfezionamenti del sistema fino al 900 e attualmente se ne utilizzano quattro:

  • Annotazione di Laban
  • Annotation di Conte
  • Annotation di Benesh
  • Annotation di Wachmann

Dagli anni 80, tutti i sistemi di annotazione importanti si sono evoluti in software.

Mentre oggi la stenografia della musica non si usa più, quella della danza è ancora in uso.

First of all, we would like to thank you for the opportunity of speaking at this Intersteno Congress, one of the most important meeting of professionals in the use of words, held in this beautiful city of Berlin, in Germany, a country with a rich tradition in the art of shorthand writing and home to Franz Gabelsberger, creator of the great Gabelsberger shorthand system.

This presentation, as well as that held 4 years ago in Ghent, takes place the same year that Intersteno president, Fausto Ramondelli, has made a trip to Argentina. The first time there he visited the Special Collections section of the Library of the National Congress, which includes the Palant Collection, composed of books and magazines about shorthand from all over the world. His visit prompted us to start a project for microfilming and digitalizing all books and magazines on the subject, which is in accordance to new Argentine regulations.

As we always say in our radio program “Palabras Dibujadas (“Drawn Words”) – in which we talk about Shorthand and the profession of stenographers- we want remember here the words pronounced by Caius Titus at the Roman Senate: “Verba volant, scripta manent”, meaning “words fly, writing remains.” A very significant statement, isn’t it? Because it points straight to the importance of shorthand.

In general, when we think about the use of shorthand, we think almost exclusively of its use for recording speeches in parliaments or testimonies in court procedures. But there are more areas of application for stenography. In fact, we can mention the importance that it had in classic literature. We’ll mention some cases, although there are many. Charles Dickens, for example, who in his autobiographical book “David Copperfield” recounts his difficulties in learning shorthand and writing rapidly, regardless of what he later became a parliamentary and judicial stenographer. Or Fedor Dostoevsky, who used the shorthand – through his secretary and future wife, Ana Grigorievna – to write some of his works, as “The Player”, in just 26 days. And it would be possible to mention many other intellectuals who also used shorthand or who emphasized their importance, such as Tolstoy, Bernard Shaw, Spencer, Newton or Mrs. Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009.

I repeat: “The writing remains”. Thanks to the creative genius of some, shorthand has helped not only words to remain in writing. We say this because there have been shorthand systems used not to record words but to record sounds and movements too. What do we mean by this? We’ll try to explain:

When Diana — who is here with me — Azat — who also participated in this research — and I, received Fausto Ramondelli in the Library of Congress, he was surprised with the book La sténographie de la musique (The Shorthand of Music), by Jean Kutahialian, published in Marseilles, France. In this book the author develops a shorthand system for writing music.

From there came the idea of investigating about this subject, which we did not know. And what happened during our investigation? We find that there is also a shorthand for dance, which is still used today in some countries.

Then, if you agree, we will mention some examples.

What is the purpose of musical notation for an interpreter? To serve as a guide for reading and recreating the work that the composer imagined at the time of its creation, allowing his work to transcend. Western traditional notation was born to that end.

While there were previous experiences, these systems came to prominence mostly during the late 19th century and early 20th century both in Europe and in the Americas. The fundamental idea was to replace the classic musical notation system ̶ with its scales and notes ̶ by other faster systems that could make it possible to listen and transcribe a composition even simultaneously.

There were notable proposers in Europe, such as in Spain, France, Italy and Germany. In the Americas we can mention Argentina, Mexico, Perú and Uruguay. In the case of Spain, prominent stenographer Francisco de Paula Martí also invented a system of music shorthand that was only published after his dead by his son Angel Ramon Martí in 1833. Later, in 1895, fellow Spaniard Serafín Ramón Guas y Ezcurdia published Método teórico-práctico de taquigrafía musical (Practical and Theoretical Method for Music Tachygraphy).

Going further back in history, Russeau himself was, according to some, a pioneer innovator with regards to musical notation.

In Italy we found Lodovico Roletti, with his book “Nuovo sistema de Stenografia Italiana e Francese e nuovo mecanismo per la Stenografia Musicale” (New system for Italian and French stenography and new system for musical stenography).

In France, in 1949, Jean Kutahialian published La Sténographie de la Musique (The stenography of music). There are copies of the latter two books in the Palant Collection of Shorthand Writing of the Library of the National Congress of Argentina. And in this, our country (Argentine) we found two notable authors who created systems of music shorthand: Rafael Hernandez and Angel Menchaca, who was director of stenographers at the National Senate. The systems created by them are of the chart type and have in common the use of petal-like signs instead of notes.

In one chapter from his book Cartilla Taquigráfica (Shorthand primer), published in 1892, Rafael Hernandez explains his music shorthand or True Shorthand, in which he lays the foundations for this system and claims that its purpose is to facilitate the learning of music. In his system, which is written in only two lines, the value of each note is kept.

Meanwhile Menchaca, who published four books on music notation ̶ in 1904, 1906, 1909 and 1914 ̶ said: “I intend to combine two methods of writing: one for speech and another for music, representing sounds in their most varied combinations in a simple, easy and unequivocal way”.

His system of music shorthand was known not only in Argentina, as it was also published in London and Paris. Taking advantage of his participation in the 2nd International Congress of Stenography, which took place in Paris in 1889, Angel Menchaca gave a lecture at the Sorbonne in Paris and afterwards visited the United States and other places of France, Belgium, England and Italy, where he was even decorated.

Among the main features of his system, we can name the following:

  • The use of a twelve notes alphabet.
  • The use of a single line of writing. This facilitates reading because it replaces the more than thirty positions of the traditional system by only two.
  • The division of the general scale in dozens, which makes it possible to determine the location of any note more quickly and precisely.
  • The use of fewer signs, since it suppresses the pentagram, the supplementary lines, the spaces, the seven keys, the sharp notes, the dotted octaves, the division of the bars, the ties, the double, triple and quadruple dots, the indications of the bars and almost all nomenclature related to the movements, etc.
  • The name, duration and pitch of all musical sounds are expressed in a fixed manner, without the need for independent auxiliary signs.
  • The notation is one and the same for all voices and all instruments.
  • It does away with the complex array of chromatic and diatonic intervals, major and minor, augmented, diminished, super-augmented and sub-diminished.
  • All scales of the traditional system are reduced to three series.
  • All bars are replaced by a single measure of time, the same that marks the rhythm for all movements.
  • It gives real time durations to all sounds.

Although the Menchaca system had some diffusion in Argentina and was taught in some schools, with a number of musical performances in a lyrical theatre of Buenos Aires Province, it met with opposition. Beside many supporters, the system also had its detractors.

Regardless of the level success experienced by the systems created by these different authors, our purpose was to highlight the amount of work they have developed in this area. But it doesn’t end here. In fact, there is another kind of art that makes use of shorthand for its representation. It is the shorthand for dance, which will be briefly explained below.

In the case of dance, there exist different notation systems that make it possible to write down movements and thus make them understandable for further reproducing them at any time. Although the earliest record of dance notation dates back to the ancient civilizations of India, Egypt and Greece, it was not until the 15th or 16th century that it began to be developed as a universalized system. Ballet saw the first attempts to systematize its notation and make it universal.

It was in De arte saltandi et choreas ducendi (On the Art of Dancing and Conducting Dances), in 1455, that Domenico di Ferrara, along with one of his disciples, Giuglielmo Ebreo, described the different dances by means of letters and symbols.

Thoinot Arbeau (an anagram of Jehan Tabourot) proposed in his book Orchsographie (1588) one of the earliest systematizations for describing steps and figures through letters, words and illustrations. The use of letters or verbal abbreviations, which will be found in later treatises, reflects the crystallization of a terminology derived from the oral transmission of dance, and implies the common knowledge of a specific vocabulary.

An unusual event at the time was the discovery in Cervera (Spain), in 1931, of two pages dating from the mid 15th century showing the first attempt to transcribe by means of abstract signs the horizontal and vertical movements of a dancer. Specifically designed for dance, this symbolic notation anticipated the shape of things to come.

Towards 1674, Pierre Beauchamp, conceived a notation system representing the movements on the ground and described the action of the legs in relation to the rest of the body and the music. In this way he was able to graphically describe temporal and spatial information, based on the characteristics of the human body and its symmetries and taking into account the mechanical needs of its bipedal locomotion. Thus, it began to take into account both the horizontal progression of the dance and the gestures made in the vertical plane.

Inspired by the Beauchamp system, Feuillet published in 1700 his Chorégraphie ou L’Art de décrire la dance (Choreography or the Art of Describing Dance). Fellow French dancer Jean-Georges Noverre’s observations on the importance of individual gesture in dance would be taken into account by further notation systems during the 19th century, which tried to transcribe, with increasing precision, the different body movements.

During the 19th century, Arthur Saint-Léon published the “Sténochorégraphie” (Stenochoreography, 1852) and Friedrich Albert Zorn published Grammatik der Tanzkunst (Grammar of dance, 1887). They were both based on a pictographic representation where head and body could be clearly dissociated. The duration of each movement was specified by a corresponding musical notation. August Bournonville also used a very succinct notation system of his own and in his Etudes Chorégraphiques (Choreographic studies, 1855) he acknowledged his interest in the “Sténochorégraphie”, although he criticized it as too complex.

Based in the analysis of the human body, this system was superior to the choreographic concept of dance. It was used in Russia by The Imperial School of Dance of St. Petersburg, where it played a fundamental role on the instruction of dancers. This system helped transcribe and preserve many of the works by Marius Petipa and other choreographers of the Marinski. Famous dancer Nijinsky personally used it at the beginning of the 20th century to write down all of the choreography for his ballet L’après-midi d’un faune (Afternoon of a Faun).

The advances of scientific and technical knowledge as well as research on sound, space, colour, forms and movement and the synergy between theory and creation, advances of knowledge in medicine and anatomy and the development of abstract symbolic expression allowed the development of various notation systems for movement and dance. Currently, four systems are mainly used:

  • Laban notation (1928)
  • Notation of Conte (1931)
  • Notation of Benesh (1956)
  • Notation of Wachmann (1958)

Laban developed and interpreted concepts about movement and dance. Because the whole theory would be too long to cover here, we would like to point at least some of the more relevant aspects:

“Labanotation”: is a way of remembering a set of movements by means of symbols. It establishes a technique of reliable written language for movements, dynamics, space and all the actions the body must perform.

“The icosahedron technique”: this allows studying dancers to see the points toward and from which they must move, improving their precision in performance.

The four main aspects of the movement technique are the following:

Time: it is sudden (quick) or sustained.

Weight: movement maybe strong or light. The factors of time and weight mark the dynamic quality of the movement.

Space: is related both to the way in which the movement takes place and the direction in which is done. The concept of kinesphere, the “personal space”, also belongs to this category. It is an imaginary sphere built with all the points within reach of the body at its maximum extension, keeping the feet on the ground.

Flow: this factor is present throughout the entire movement and gives the sensation of being bound or free.

Laban defines the archetypes or simplifications that he uses as “fundamental shape forms”: a straight line, an open (curved) shape, torsion (S) and rounded shape, which are derived from the basic form and the spiral shape, truer to the actual organization of the body and many forms present in nature.

Another important aspect of choreographic notation is that of copyright. In some countries, courts would only support the right of the choreographer over his work if it has been previously written down. This is a strong point in favour of all systems of notation that allows a work to be registered. We may point as well that, in some countries, audiovisual systems are not currently as safe as it is notation.

All important systems of notation have evolved into their own software, beginning in 1982 with the DOM, followed by the Shorthand dance notation, Morris dance notation, etc.

The applications are:

  • Dance Forms – dance animation software for Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows
  • Expressive Character Animation – Expressive Ballet animation using Benesh Notation
  • LINTER – a UNIX and X windows for LED that generates animation via the nudes animation system
  • BALLONES – ‘Ballet Animation Language Linked Over Nudes Ellipsoid System’ a lexical computer interpreter of Classical Ballet terminology
  • Country Dance animation project – Java and XML animation – using Labanotation (development on hold).
  • Morris Dance notation uses the ABC music notation language and related software for UNIX, Macintosh, Microsoft Windows and MIDI applications.

This is a very brief synthesis of our research. Today, rather than bore you with the more technical aspects, we wanted to share with you the knowledge the existence of these systems of shorthand notation for two branches of art. Those who are interested, can contact us for more information.

In the case of Music, besides the acknowledgments, the authors were forced to make many corrections and unfortunately, in the end, we can say that musical shorthand today is no longer used.

But shorthand notation for Dance is still used, now mostly for choreography, both in Europe and America. We have contacted a choreographer who uses a shorthand notation system and we intend to continue researching on it and maybe next time we may bring someone proficient on this system to talk about it.

Finally, we would like to know whether any of these two systems had seen some kind of development in your countries. You can write to us with any information you may have to the e-mail address palabrasdibujadas@gmail.com. Thus, we will continue to build on the history, the present and the future of our profession and contribute to the growth of our beloved Federation, INTERSTENO, with research that will consolidate your work and your presence in the world.

Thank you very much for your attention!