Common proverbs are a very easy and brief way of passing on wisdom or advice that one has not had to come up with all on one’s own. They are on permanent* standby, ready to help the speaker summarise their opinion in just a few words. They are a type of verbal shorthand, but probably more used in casual speech than in writing, because of their tendency to be overused. They are not the answer, just an opportunity for the listener to decide which one matches most closely what they actually feel about the situation. Should I look before I leap, or is he who hesitates really lost? Is nothing ventured nothing gained the best way or maybe it is better to be safe than sorry. I ought not to cross my bridges until I get to them, but maybe if I fail to plan, I am planning to fail.
* For prominent, permanent and pre-eminent see http://www.long-live-pitmans-shorthand.org.uk/distinguishing-outlines-list3.htm
For the shorthand writer*, the most relevant point about proverbs, clichés and common phrases of all kinds is the fact that* you know them so well, that it is easy to write down what you think was said. They come in many slightly different versions, or the speaker may even choose to mangle it for their own purposes. Lazy listening is an insidious trap for the shorthand writer, quite separate from the task of recalling and forming outlines, and if you need a proverb for that, maybe it is “Many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip” or, translated* for the stenographer, “Many a slip between sound heard and written word”. Although proverbs are often criticised as being trite, they would never have survived if they were blatantly false or wrong. So, instead of cringing next time* you are confronted with one, it might be preferable to apply it to shorthand and get some fresh use out of it. After all, waste not, want not!
* Omission phrases "short(hand) writer" "is the (f)act that" "ne(k)s(t) time"
* Omits the N "tra(n)slated"
- A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. - An outline in the mind is worth two in the dictionary.
- A rolling stone gathers no moss. - A well-used shorthand pen gathers no dust and the ink does not dry out.
- A thousand mile journey begins with a single step. - The steps get easier as shorthand skill increases.
- A word to the wise is sufficient. - If you are really interested in the subject, you don't need to be reminded to practise.
- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. - Learn the short forms thoroughly and save yourself a lot of trouble later on.
- Any port in a storm. - Write something for everything and correct it later.
- April showers bring May flowers. - April learning brings May earning.
- Better safe than sorry. - Miss no opportunity to practise – exams are coming!
- Beware the fury of a patient* man. - Pounce on your workplace errors before your boss does.
- Brevity is the soul of wit. - And of shorthand.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. - Always carry spare pens or pencils and extra notepads.
- Everything comes to him who waits. - Practise shorthand every time you have to wait, even if only mentally.
- Finders keepers. - Refers to that job opportunity.
- First come, first served. - Don’t miss that bargain Ebay shorthand book.
- From small beginnings come great things. - Only if you put the work into it.
- Great oaks from little acorns grow. - Start now and you could be writing 60 words a minute* in three months.
* For passionate/patient, and also impassioned/impatient, see www.long-live-pitmans-shorthand.org.uk/distinguishing-outlines-list3.htm
* Omission phrase "words (a) minute"
- He who hesitates is lost. - Don't expect to rely on memory to fill gaps.
- Here today, gone tomorrow. - Unless it has been captured in shorthand.
- History repeats itself. - Uncorrected* wrong outlines repeat themselves.
- Hit the nail on the head. - Nail down the correct outlines in your memory to prevent future hesitation.
- Hitch your wagon to a star. - Aim high to prevent complacency.
- If at first* you don't succeed, try, try again. - Vocabulary extension and facility drills are needed.
- If you sow the wind expect to reap the whirlwind. - Sow practice in order to reap fast shorthand.
- Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. - Use the textbook* outlines as the ideal.
- In one ear and out the other. - In one ear and out of the pen nib.
* Insert the first vowel, so it is not misread as "incorrect"
* Omission phrase "at (fir)st"
* Omits the T "teks(t)book"
- It's all in a day's work. - A good speed in hand means a stress-free day of shorthand writing*.
- It’s no use crying over spilt* milk. – Drill troublesome outlines so that the error does not happen again.
- Knowledge is power - It looks good on your CV as well.
- Lay up something for a rainy day. - Prepare some drill pages for times when other things cannot be done.
- Let bygones be bygones. – Review, revise and then retake the fast passage.
- Little strokes fell great oaks. - A compact writing style is faster than a large sprawling one.
- Look and you shall find. - Time slots for extra practice.
- Make hay while the sun shines. - Practise all the Hay words over lunch in the park.
* Omission phrase "short(hand) writing"
* "spilled" has a downward thick Ld stroke
- March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. - Unfamiliar shorthand can soon be overcome and tamed.
- Necessity is the mother of invention. - Write something for everything, then look up in the dictionary afterwards.
- Never cross a bridge until you come to it. - Never write an outline before it has been spoken, as what sounds like a common phrase or term may turn out to be something else.
- Never leave till tomorrow what you can do today. - Practise today and tomorrow as well.
- Never say die! - Giving up on one thing* is just the start of giving up on others.
- Never swap horses crossing a stream. - Never dither over your choice of outline in mid-dictation.
- New brooms sweep clean. - Clean the pen regularly to keep the ink flowing.
* Omission phrase "wu(n) thing"
- No sooner said than done. - The ultimate goal of all shorthand.
- Nothing succeeds like success. - Remember past successes in order to strengthen the resolve to continue.
- Nothing ventured, nothing gained. - Try a super fast or an extra long take.
- Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. - One hand writing and the other hand ready to turn the page instantly. This leaves no hands at all to prop up your head!
- Slow and steady wins the race. - Go as slowly as necessary through* the lesson and then write the exercises quickly.
- The best is yet to come. - Every minute of practice increases your speed.
- The early bird catches the worm. - Get up early for extra practising time.
- The more the merrier. - Outlines in memory and notepads to put them in.
- The proof of the pudding is in the eating. - The proof of the shorthand is in the transcription.*
- The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. - Fast and careless loses the job or exam pass, check all your transcripts carefully.
* Keep the Ith well curved, as it could begin to look like "during"
* Omits the N and the second R "tra(n)sc(r)iption". Compare this with "descriptions" which uses a reversed circle to suggest the R hook.
- There is no time like the present. - Keep practice material with you at all times.
- Time and tide wait for no man. - Pursue maximum speed achievements, not the minimum to get by.
- Time is money. - Shorthand notes are quicker to read than wading through hours of audio recording.
- Well begun is half done. – How you write at the beginning of a dictation sets the tone for the rest of it.
- What's worth doing is worth doing well. - Half learned shorthand is not much use.
- You can’t judge a book by its cover. - Better a used shorthand book now than a smart new one later.
- You never know what you can do till you try. - Once you know what you can do, you are encouraged to carry on.
- You're never too old to learn. - Shorthand is the ideal exercise to keep the mind and memory in good shape. (1326 words)