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The Training of a Secretary:
 Mechanical Helps

 Filing Room And Library

 Overlapping With Other Officers

 The Private Secretary

 The Social Secretary

 The Building And Loan Association Secretary

 For Any Secretary

 Compensation

 Famous Secretaries And Their Careers

 In General

 Read More Articles About: The Training of a Secretary

For Any Secretary

( Originally Published 1922 )

O, for English " as she is wrote ", to paraphrase Pedro Carolino in his seriously written, ludicrous, Portuguese-English dictionary of 1855, " The New Guide of the Conversation, in Portuguese and English." In the preface to the second edition he says, " We were increasing this second edition with a ,phraseology, in the first part, and some familiar letters, anecdotes, idiotisms and proverbs ". In 1883 James Millington, an Englishman, selected the most absurd of these and put them into a little book which he called :

ENGLISH AS SHE IS SPOKE

or

A Jest in Sober Earnest

Among the idiotisms are the following: " The necessity don't know the low."

" In the country of blinds, the one-eyed men are kings."

" A horse baared don't look him the tooth." " Which like Bertram, love hir dog."

" The stone as roll not heap up not foam." " He turns as a weath turcoci."

" He is beggar as a church rat."

" Keep the chestnut of the fire with the cat foot."

" To look for a needle in the hay bundle."

It is easy to imagine what the remainder of the book is like. To return from this digression, or rather diversion, for such was the re-reading of the "Guide" and "EngIish as She is Spoke", I 'do not mean necessarily the English of Pope or Addison or Goldsmith, but theirs intensified and quickened by the new words and expressions which have come continually into the language since the time of those masters, generally in the form of slang. The tongue which does not grow as it ages, becomes a dead language, as dead as, well, here goes, " as dead as a door nail ". Anyone who endeavors to read Chaucer will realize that his language is to us nearly dead; and as for that of Robert of Gloucester and Piers Plowman, it is quite defunct and buried many hundreds of years. Observe Latin and Greek, what a pass they have come to, deeply to the regret of thoughtful people.

There are persons who, may say, upon perusing this book, that the author thereof is not overburdened with that knowledge of which he speaks. True, no doubt, and the writer is conscious of it, but it is not so for want of effort or study or for lack of use of the helps which every secretary should have near him.

In the left hand drawer of my desk there is an old-fashioned grammar, Hart's, which I studied when a school-boy, a treatise on etymology of the same date, a Dictionary of Daily Blunders, an English thesaurus, by P. M. Roget, dubbed by a humorous woman secretary, " The oesophagus ", a Spanish grammar, a French grammar and a Latin dictionary. These books are in frequent use, not only by myself, but by others who are aware of their location and who are keen to do their work correctly.

I am told that etymology and philology are not taught in the schools today. I would make a plea for the study of etymology. I know from experience that it can be made intensely interesting to children; and if in our present busy lives we feel that we do not have the time to acquire more than the rudiments of a classical education, here is an opportunity to at least learn the roots of English words, which come from so many sources, their prefixes and suffixes, what they mean and whence they are derived ; and I am sure that a thorough knowledge of our etymology will result in immense benefit in the accurate expression of thought in graceful English. Take note of the average young woman who applies for a position as a stenographer, aspiring eventually to be-come private secretary to a man of large affairs, or a lady's social secretary. Does she know how to spell? She does not. Or punctuate? No. Can she separate words into syllables? I answer in accents of despair, she cannot. Three of five of her cannot. This very page when it was first copied on the type-writer by a young woman who was employed specially for the purpose and said she was experienced, had to be re-written on account of the number of errors in it. I venture to say she could toss off on the typewriter, " separate the words at the ends of lines into syllables ", and here I go again, "never batt an eyelid ", a much more modern example of slang than the dead door nail, to which Charles Dickens devotes the first page of the Christmas Carol, published as long ago as 1843. If she can write a short note herself in correct English she is the exception. I am bound to say, however, that there has been a marked improvement within the past few years in the knowledge exhibited by the tyro, and that occasionally one will be found who has a gift of placing a letter or report upon paper with skill, and in typography, spelling and punctuation, which are admirable.

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