Coleridge, Transcription, and the Shorthand Effect
Although Coleridge is mostly known for being a copious talker who was impossible to transcribe, this chapter recovers Coleridge’s role as transcriber, theorist of transcription practices, and inventor of his own idiosyncratic shorthand. Considering Coleridge’s time as a parliamentary reporter, his self-reflexive notebook entries, and the history of stenography, this chapter posits that Coleridge pursued an efficient writing system to record not speech but the flow of his own silent thoughts. Also discussing today’s optical character recognition software and the shorthand effect (when letters or words uncannily become illegible shapes, and non-linguistic shapes come to look like linguistic signs), this chapter culminates in a reading of the “signs” in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”
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