In 6th grade we were given an assignment in school. We got a form and a list of classes and were to design our four-year high school schedule in preparation for what we wanted to be when we grew up. I looked at all the choices - English, Algebra, History, Chemistry, . . . until I found the most enticing word - Stenography. That was it. I wanted to be a Stenographer. I had no clue what a Stenographer did. All I knew was that it sounded exotic. As it turns out, it could have been even alluring. I could have planned to be an amanuensis.
Word of the Day for Saturday, March 1, 2008
amanuensis \uh-man-yoo-EN-sis\,noun: A person employed to take dictation or to copy manuscripts.
The chore of actually writing the words in the end fell to a hand-picked amanuensis.-- Austin Baer, "River of Desire", Atlantic, October 1996
On this blue day, I want to be nothing more than an amanuensis to the birds, transcribing all the bits and snatches of song riding in on the wind.-- Barbara Crooker, "Transcription (Poem)", Midwest Quarterly, March 22, 2003
When it comes to literature, the French count the largest number of Nobel Prizes; their authors include one who wrote a whole book without using the letter 'e' and another who, suffering from 'locked-in syndrome' after a severe stroke, dictated a memoir by blinking his eye as an amanuensis read through the alphabet.-- Jonathan Fenby, France on the Brink
Amanuensis comes from Latin, from the phrase (servus) a manu, "slave with handwriting duties," from a, ab, "by" + manu, from manus, "hand."
Dictionary.com Entry and Pronunciation for amanuensis
When I finally got to high school, taking Stenography was not permitted for the college-bound students. It was only for girls planning on going into business. Business for them meant Secretary and taking shorthand.
One course that I couldn't avoid, a requirement for all girls in our high school, was Home Economics. (Boys were not allowed. They got to take Wood Shop.) We learned the proper way to iron a shirt; how to cut a hole out of the center of slice of white bread using a glass and then fry an egg in it; how to sew on buttons. The final project was to create a scrapbook of our Dream Wedding and Dream House. We were given stacks of magazines and directed to find pictures to cut out to paste into our books - photos of our gowns; bridesmaids' dresses; bouquets; silver; china; furniture; towels; you name it, whatever was going to make life after graduating from high school complete. I can't remember if we cut out pictures of our dream husbands.