Archive for December, 2010

Teeline Shorthand for Students, the Workplace, and the Lazy

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

I had just gotten back from a short adventure in China, and was sick.  I had jet lag and the stomach flu, and was spending hours and hours awake in the dead of night because I couldn’t sleep.  Why couldn’t I sleep?  It was partially because of my jet lag, but the main reason was Teeline.  I was obsessed with learning it, and couldn’t sleep because I had a singular determination to master it.

After being introduced to shorthand in Dickens’s David Copperfield, I became fascinated with the somewhat lost art of shorthand, a style of writing which allows one to write at much faster speeds than usual.  At the time, I was attending classes at the Colorado School of Mines trying to simultaneously keep focused on the professor and voraciously take notes at the same time.  Doing both concurrently isn’t always easy, especially when your professor talks like a thermodynamics auctioneer on speed.  Shorthand can be very beneficial to me in school, and also in the office.  It’s especially important that your boss, coworkers, or employees have your full attention (i.e. eye contact) when they’re talking to you.  You can’t do that effectively if your attention is forever fixed on a notebook or sticky note in front of you.

What I’ve attempted to do is compile a short list of essential Teeline words that I think students and people in a business setting can use to write less and focus more.  Teeline is supposed to be an easy-to-learn style of shorthand (as opposed to Gregg or Pitman), as almost all of the “letters” are based on their English equivalents (whereas Gregg and Pitman are phonetic).  My goal here is not to turn you into a stenographer, but rather to improve your speed significantly with very little effort.  Fluent shorthand is not a necessity for the average note-taker, and most don’t have the time to learn it.

So here you go: a compiled list of all the Teeline outlines I think are important.  Have fun!

What I often do is combine shorthand with longhand, using common words and prefixes/suffixes from shorthand while writing out other words in longhand. Something along these lines:

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.”

I only write the shorthand if it comes to me instantly.  If it takes even a moment to think about it, then it’s not worth it to try and figure out the shorthand.  Of course you have to practice the shorthand outside real-life situations if you ever want to make it useful, otherwise you’ll just be writing longhand for everything.  Duh!  Teeline is pretty standardized if you want to go deep, but the awesome thing is that you can customize it to fit your needs.  When you’ve got a huge word that you just keep spelling out over and over, shrink it and make a Teeline outline out of it.  I used to write Heat Transfer as ht.  That’s two strokes in Teeline as opposed to twenty two longhand.

But wait! I’ve got a bonus for you too!  Yes, just because you’re so handsome/beautiful, here’s an Anki zip file containing a deck with all the outlines from above.  It’s more than 300 cards!  Click here to download:  Teeline Basics, or search for it in the shared decks in Anki (File>Download>Shared Decks).

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about Teeline, I’d encourage you to check out this free online book.  Or buy the book Teeline Revised Edition by I.C. Hill & Meriel Bowers.  I’ve got the book at home, and it’s very useful.  The material often seems forced and manipulated to match what they’re teaching at the moment, nothing like natural speech, but all the same I found it quite instructive.


The Most Commonly Used Japanese Words by Frequency

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

In a previous post, I expounded on language learning and laid out what I think is the fastest way to learn any language. One of the components of quickly acquiring languages is to prioritize the words that you learn. Learning the most common words first will reap huge benefits for your comprehension. There are several word frequency lists out there, most of them I found were compiled from newspapers, but Mike “Pomax” Kamermans over at had a brilliant idea to use Japanese novels as material instead. His algorithm compiled over 65 million words. No word frequency list can be perfect, but I think this one is about as close as you can get.

I simply took the first 3000 words from his data and made some tweaks so the words are easier to utilize for studying. I removed punctuation and numbers, and compiled the words into 2 page pdf files that are easy to print so you can cross off words when you learn them. I’ve also included the text file of those 3000 words in case you want to do any textual searches.

PDF files: For Printing

Japanese Word Frequency List 1-1000

Japanese Word Frequency List 1000-2000

Japanese Word Frequency List 2000-3000

Text file: For Searching

Japanese Word Frequency List 1-3000

A little bit of number crunching on the data turned out some very interesting facts.

The first 100 words on the list make up 57.2% of the text that was processed.

The first 500? 70.3%.

The first 1000? 76.2%

The first 3000? 85.4%

The first 10,000? 94.1%

But don’t let this data fool you completely.  Mike (the man who generated the list himself) said in an email…

Usually the most frequently used words don’t need explicit learning because they are found all over the place, and the medium-presence words are more important, because they convey important things. Frequent words are usually common because they contain little information, so you have a trade-off between ‘used a lot’ and ‘give critical information’.

You can find the complete list of more than 65,000 words including punctuation, word frequency, and parts of speech at

Here’s a link my article How to Learn Any Language in 6 Months