Most people wouldn't be able to interpret the various combinations of 22 keystrokes on a stenotype machine, but court reporters can read the symbols and letters as words. Court reporters use stenotype machines to type shorthand notes taken as they record every word said during a hearing in open court.
"It's like hearing the English language and outputting it in another language," court reporter Jane Magneson of Hastings said.
The stenotype machine has 22 keys, but one is an asterisk and two of those keys are the letter "s."
It may seem impossible to record every word with only 20 letters, but court reporters learn to write phonetically. They spend about a year learning the theory behind stenography and shorthand before trying to add speed to their note-taking abilities. To test out, they need a minimum of 225 words per minute with 97 percent accuracy transcribing testimony.