Developing your stenocaptioning skills

Vocabulary is critical to your success as a stenocaptioner. You must have a well-developed court reporting dictionary, containing all of the specialty terminology for whatever you will be captioning, plus general terms that might come up. Here is a list, offered by Patty White of Caption Colorado and Kevin Daniel of Bay Area Captioning, of some (yes, I said “some”) of what should be in an American news captioner’s dictionary:

  • Presidents (past, present, and potential)
  • First Ladies
  • Cabinet members
  • Senate
  • House of Representatives
  • National figures (government, religious, entertainment, criminal, etc.)
  • All the countries in the world and their capitals
  • All major U.S. cities and some of the smaller ones
  • Geographical information such as mountain ranges, mountain peaks, oceans, rivers, lakes, local creeks
  • Meteorological terms, weather terms
  • World leaders, including United Nations leaders
  • World history terminology, as in Tet Offensive, Bolsheviks, Chairman Mao, etc.
  • Major wars, domestic and international
  • Terms related to world organizations like NATO, OPEC, etc.
  • Nationalities and languages for foreign nations
  • Supreme Court Justices and important Supreme Court decisiosn
  • Military leaders; Joint Chiefs of Staff; military bases, weapons of war, like A-10 tank killers, F-15s, Tomahawk missiles, Scuds, etc.
  • National parks
  • Colleges, universities, and their team names
  • Local stuff for the area you plan to caption in: landmarks, hospital, junior colleges, prominent people, etc.
  • All the professional sports teams, their nicknames, players, and coaches
  • Sports terminology, awards and organizations, both amateur and professional
  • Makes and models of automobiles
  • Major businesses, brand names, trading organizations, stock terms
  • Currencies and major banks around the world
  • All the colors, and their shades and hues
  • Dog and cat breeds
  • Food and their measurements and the spices that go with them
  • Holidays: Christian, Jewish, and all other faiths
  • Special events, like Kwanzaa, Cinco de Mayo, etc.
  • Religious structures, like mosques, temples, etc.
  • Books of the Bible and of religions around the world
  • Basic chemicals
  • Drug names and manufacturers, both legal and illegal
  • Common first and last names
  • World literature, philosophy, and religious terms, like Aesop, orthodox, Buddhism, Eucharist, the brothers Grimm, etc.
  • Political terms, like glasnost, apartheid, anarchy, propaganda, caucus, espatriate, Kremlin, Parliament, etc.
  • Computer terms
  • Commonly used foreign words and phrases, such as adieu, aloha, de rigeur, fait accompli, modus operandi, etc.

This list was originally published in the January 1998 Journal of Court Reporting.