Have you ever wondered what that thing is that court reporters are always using?
Well, that thing is called a stenographic machine, or ‘stenograph’. This type of machines is also used to produce captions for TV broadcasts, live streaming transcripts at meetings and at schools, and for office stenography in general. Stenographs are working a bit like portable word processors, but they have a modified keyboard with 22 buttons instead of a standard keyboard.
Modern stenographs include two rows of consonant keys on each side, placed underneath a ‘number bar’, and in front are four keys for the vowels A, O, E, and U.
Now how do stenographers work? Court stenographers may be typing entire words if they strike more keys at the same time. The left keys are for spelling the beginning letter of a syllable, and the right hand keys are for the last letter. The stenographer presses all relevant keys at the same time, and the stenographic machine will come up with an alphabet soup that is unintelligible for persons who are not trained to read machine shorthand.
Teeline is a relatively new way for shorthand writing mainly used in the UK and other parts of British Commonwealth. There are also Teeline applications for some Germanic languages like German and Swedish. The Teeline Shorthand System is recognized by the British National Council for the Training of Journalists.
Teeline was created and introduced in 1968 by James Hill, a shorthand writing teacher. With Teeline, a rate of 150 words a minute is feasible, and usually journalists who use the system have created their own groups of words to increase their writing speed.
Teeline is speed writing system that is using all letters of the English alphabet that we are already familiar with, and streamlines the text. Just think of what nowadays is known as ‘text language’, used by teenagers when they’re writing their text messages.
They have removed the ‘silent’ letters from a word, usually vowels, as in hello (abbreviated to ‘hlo’) and in (shortened to ‘bi’). Which letters are written depends on how the words sound when spoken. Teeline uses a similar system.
Before students will visit and explore a court, it is crucial that they understand a little about the ‘etiquette; that’s required in court. Before setting out on a tour through one our nation’s court rooms, educators should discuss and explain a lot of the Courthouse Dos & Donts to their students.
DO speak in a soft and decent manner and keep up a professional demeanor in stairwells and hallways of the Courthouse you visit.
DO NOT speak in courtrooms while court proceedings are going on.
DO remember where the bathrooms are located (here: on the 2nd floor near to the elevators).
DO NOT bring your totes or heavy backpacks into the Courthouse. This will delay the security proceedings.
Court reporting is as old as our civilization and we’ve seen it professionally being practiced for thousands of years. We can trace back the roots of court reports all the way back to 63 BC, when Cicero’s secretary, Marcus Tullius Tiro, was already practicing shorthand court reporting. The profession requires well-developed skills, a broad range of learning and training, and accuracy.
Stenographers are among the highest advanced people in the courtroom and they are the ones that make court reports. They can also be found working in deposition suites all across the nation. Producers of digital recording devices and transcription companies can often be overheard bragging about the ‘evolution’ of court coverage and how their products are better, cheaper, faster, or more reliable than the work produced by stenographers, but the truth of the matter is that, though digital audio recording may generate sufficient records, these recording devices do not necessarily produce accurate documents.