Pet peeves and favorite words: An interview with Joe Aurelio

Retired court reporter Santo (Joe) Aurelio, FAPR, RDR (Ret.), Arlington, Mass., is one of the presenters who will be leading sessions during the new NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 conference. His session, “What Every Reporter Should Know About Punctuation to Transcribe Correctly,” is sure to offer many tips and tricks for how to finish your transcripts both quickly and accurately.

The JCR asked Aurelio to share a little about his interests in language and the upcoming session.

JCR | How did you become interested in grammar and punctuation?

SJA | I became interested in grammar and punctuation at an early age. I know that I was playing around with words (as, it’s/its; faint/feint) as early as age 12. I have always read a lot, even as a child. (Actually, I mispronounced many big words because I had never heard them pronounced previously.) And, yes, I was always fascinated by words and how they could be combined to explain exactly what one thought and felt.

JCR | What is the biggest grammar pet peeve you have?

SJA | Although the No. 1 error in the United States is the it’s/its conundrum, my biggest grammar pet peeve is the affect/effect bugaboo. It’s so common that I even once received an email with that error from the President of Harvard University — and it was corrected circa two hours later (and not by me).

Admittedly, affect and effect are difficult to use correctly. Why? Well, each is a noun and a verb — and even when affect is used correctly as a noun, it is commonly mispronounced. Plus, some people think­ that effect sounds better than affect when used as a verb.

JCR | Do you have a favorite word? What is it? Do you have a reason that it’s your favorite word?

SJA | I don’t have a favorite word, but I have lots of words that I like to use frequently. For instance, Lucullan, as in “She presided over a Lucullan feast” (after Lucullus, the Roman general and epicure who was noted for holding many fabulous feasts with a rich bounty of food). I use that word when I want to denote a really great meal.

Another word that I like to use is lilliputian when I mean something that is extremely small.

Those two words are rich in meaning for me, and that’s why I like to use them.

JCR | Why is good punctuation so important in a transcript?

SJA | Good punctuation is critically important in the preparation of transcripts. All of the marks of punctuation are important, and they should be used correctly at all times. Take, for instance, whether commas should be used in the following two sentences:

Don’t shoot Bill until I tell you to.


Don’t shoot, Bill, until I tell you to.

Which is it? Mistranscribing that sentence would be dangerous. If the reporter is not absolutely sure whether commas are needed in certain areas in that sentence, then he or she should interrupt immediately and find out the correct way to punctuate that sentence. 

A famous writer of many books used the semicolon incorrectly each and every time throughout his last published book. And, of course, spelling is important, too. Consider this example: Should the spelling be palate/palette/pallet/pallid?

The job of a reporter is twofold: To take down every word spoken and to transcribe each of those words with correct punctuation.

JCR | Thanks for presenting at NCRA Connect Virtual 2020! We’re looking forward to it being a great event. Can you tell our readers a little about what they should expect?

SJA | The upcoming NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 will be very exciting. Attendees will be able to see and listen to many fine presentations about the latest technological advances that relate to court reporting. Other presentations will embrace captioning, CART, virtual depositions, and other related and informative subjects. And, of course, I’d love for many of you to join me for my session on punctuation. I hope to see you there.

Find out more about the NCRA Connect Virtual 2020.

What can I do in a month?

By Natalie Dippenaar

Are you looking to earn Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) before the cycle ends on September 30? Look no further: NCRA offers a number of convenient ways to further your education. This week starts a three-part fortnightly series of earning CEUs!

First step: Think back over the past three years.

  • Check your transcript. Is anything missing?
  • Have you taken any courses that might be worthy of CEUs? You might be eligible for CEUs if you have taken a course in any of these areas:
  1. Language skills, literature, and linguistics
  2. The reporting profession, the law, and the courts
  3. Medicine and medical terminology
  4. Court reporting software and technology
  5. Legal and business technology
  6. Legal videography
  7. Trial presentation
  8. Business administration
  9. Safety and emergency preparedness
  10. Educational or historical tours
  • Have you given your services to help those in the profession? You might be eligible for Professional Development Credits (PDCs) if you have given of your time by:
  1. Participating in any pro bono reporting or captioning services
  2. Participating in a formal mentoring program such as NCRA’s Virtual Mentor program
  3. Serving on an NCRA, NCRF, or affiliate state board or committee
  4. Promoting the court reporting profession in presentations


How to tell a CEU from a PDC…

If you were the student/trainee, you might be eligible for CEU, but if you were the presenter/mentor/board member, you are more likely to be eligible for PDCs.

NOTE: PDCs are not accepted for certificates, CLVS required training, or re-instatement, and PDCs are usually limited to a maximum of 1.0 of your 3.0 CEU requirement.

Next step: Don’t procrastinate!

Here are some quick and easy actions you can take right now!

  • Webinars

September is a busy month in the webinar department at NCRA. Here is a small taste of some webinars being offered in the coming weeks.

Monday, Sept. 12, 2016: 5 – 6 p.m. ET (0.1 CEU) – Podcasting to promote your business

In this webinar, Steve Lubetkin, CLVS, co-author with Donna Papacosta of The Business of Podcasting: How to Take Your Podcasting Passion from the Personal to the Professional, reviews and explains how to make audio and video podcasts (Internet-distributed audio and video programs) part of your marketing and communications plan.
Register here!

Friday, Sept. 16, 2016: 4 – 5 p.m. ET (0.1 CEU) – Disability awareness and etiquette

More than one out of every five individuals has a disability in the United States. As the baby-boomer population ages, the prevalence of disabilities will increase. People with disabilities are entitled to the same courtesies you would extend to anyone. Yet, many of us have not had personal experience with disabilities and/or have not been exposed to a wide variety of types of disabilities and, thus, feel awkward or inadequately prepared to interact or respond appropriately. This session will review common disabilities and discuss courtesies and responses that are applicable in everyday interactions. Individuals will have an opportunity to dialogue about personal experiences and discuss specific situations with the presenter, Robin Jones.
Register here!

Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016: 4 – 5 p.m. ET (0.1 CEU) – Developing resiliency: Six powerful strategies to thrive at work

During this webcast, Dr. Kevin Nourse and Dr. Lynn Schmidt will introduce the Resiliency Framework, which was developed from extensive research and interviews. The framework consists of six strategies that help people thrive in the face of career challenges. Attend this session to find out which resiliency strategy you need to strengthen to increase your career satisfaction and viability. You will take a brief assessment to determine your resiliency needs, and you will leave with at least one action that you can take immediately to increase your resiliency. By using the six resiliency strategies, you can create a career defined by growth, success, and satisfaction.
Register here!

Watch the CEU Corner and visit the NCRA webinar website for late additions in the coming weeks and more details!

  • Take a CPR or first aid class

Up to 0.1 CEU per hour (to a maximum of 1.2 CEUs) will be awarded for CPR and first aid courses conducted by the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, or any other organization that meets the federal standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Credits for either of these two classes may only be received once each three-year term.

And don’t forget, save money by submitting your CEUs online!

For more information: Visit the NCRA Web page Ways to Earn Continuing Education.

Natalie Dippenaar is NCRA’s Professional Development Program Manager. She can be reached at


NCRA 2014 Convention & Expo kicks off in San Francisco

The 2014 NCRA Convention & Expo kicked off this morning with day-long pre-convention intensive CAT vendor workshops hosted by Advantage Software, AristoCAT, StenoCAT by Gigatron, Stenograph, and Stenovations digitalCAT. In addition, the Association held its Annual Business Meeting and the first day of the Realtime Systems Administrator Workshop. This year’s annual event, being held July 31 – Aug. 3 at the San Francisco Union Square Hilton, has drawn more than 1,000 attendees, including court reporters, captioners, CART providers, legal videographers, students, teachers, and vendors and exhibitors.

Other highlights on the schedule for day one include the National Realtime Contest, the “Only New Once” Reception, and the Opening Reception, which will be held on the Expo floor where attendees can visit with vendors and exhibitors. In addition, attendees can find out more about NCRA’s benefits at its Government Relations, Member Services, and Store booths as well as the National Court Reporters Foundation booth.

Be sure to check throughout the day for the latest in news from the NCRA 2014 Convention & Expo.

Review: TechCon: What is it all about?


TechCon brings the brightest and most knowledgeable to the remote and curious freelance reporter. So much information bombards us every day, much of which is technical in nature. For the freelance court reporter who is on his or her own most of the time, the choices and decisions can be daunting. There are options coming at you from state and national court reporting associations, the Internet, and from fellow reporters. I have been freelance court reporting since 1980, always proud of this profession and striving to be the best I can. The first time I saw the TechCon conference advertised, I vowed to attend as soon as I could arrange it, and Arizona turned out to be the perfect choice.

Wow, what a great experience! From the charming, informative, and fascinating stories of Sue Terry, RPR, CRR, and Judy Werlinger, RMR, CRR, CMRS, regarding their adventures in realtime, to the nuts and bolts technology brainbusters of Daniel Bistany, TechCon was everything I had hoped for and more. I solidified my choices on some of the gadgets and programs I use, but, more importantly, I zeroed in on what routers, hotspots, websites, and apps, to mention a few, were the best out there for my particular applications. For those of us who are writing realtime, the technology is changing all the time and can be hard to keep up with. This conference was invaluable with having all of these experts in one place. They were extremely helpful with any questions we had and also with informative recommendations.

I would recommend this conference to all reporters and want to thank the presenters and vendors for the pride and confidence they have in this profession and for sharing their knowledge and wisdom with not only each other, but with us remote reporters who are many times on our own.

Sometimes when we as reporters are assessing how to obtain our CEU points, it is very tempting to take advantage of the many cheap online options. I would encourage all my colleagues to take into consideration the priceless nature of networking with fellow reporters; not just in the traditional sense of developing clients, but creating friendships and troubleshooting issues that plague us from time to time. What I am always struck by when attending these in-person conferences is the generosity of my profession and willingness to always lend a helping hand.