cursive

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by laladopi, Jan 20, 2009.

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Teaching cursive is at bottom just a way or regularizing and making legible what people do anyway when they get faster and better at writing by hand. See Fraggle's post.

    But it is not taught that way - it is taught to children too young to need it, as an essentially useless adornment or "accomplishment"; probably a holdover from when the ability to write was a class distinction.

    So it seems like something that could be discarded without loss. My guess is that most people don't write by hand enough to get much benefit from taking the time to practice it, and so if times have changed enough to eliminate the class distinction then no problem.
     
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Of course. This is the Linguistics board. That's what it's for.
    The uselessness of handwriting is a new phenomenon. The workstation revolution began to make handwriting less common in the office, but the internet has begun eliminating it even in personal life. Before computers we all wrote things by hand routinely. Most people never learned to type, so even if they had a typewriter they weren't fast enough with it to bother using it for notes and lists. Besides, the machines weren't very convenient for that kind of stuff: no e-mail or spreadsheet programs.

    Teaching it young had nothing to do with busywork or elitism. Handwriting is like playing a musical instrument or a sport: it requires developing strength and coordination in muscles that are not used so intensively and precisely in other activities. You have to develop those abilities in childhood or they'll be too difficult to master later, after your body has established itself.

    I learned to play the guitar when I was fifteen, and I got barely good enough to play professionally, much less to be a frontman. I should have started several years earlier. If you wait until you're twelve or fifteen to learn handwriting, it will always be difficult to do and hard for anyone else to read.
     
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  5. tim840 Registered Senior Member

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    This is cursive

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Almost no right-handed writer makes a five that way. Unless you go extremely slowly, you can't make that square corner in the upper left when moving counterclockwise with your right hand, so it always ends up looking like an S. You have to start on the downstroke and then come back and do the crosspiece separately. Our teachers even taught us to do it that way back in the 1940s and 50s.
     
  8. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

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    I'm afraid I have to echo John's question here...

    Although, I would rephrase the question to ask if the original poster is serious.

    We 'have' and write in cursive for the very same reason we always have: communication. Knowing how to make proper use of our alphabetic symbols teaches us how to properly formulate words, and from thence, sentences.

    Obviously, given the pervasive use of keyboarding these days, it's a rare occasion when one finds one actually has to write something out.
    This is a sad thing, as the resultant lack of spelling and grammar to be found in far too many posts here (to say nothing of anywhere else on the 'net) serves as evidence.
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Hold it. You are asserting that the demise of handwriting contributes to the deterioration of spelling and grammar.

    I would like to see the evidence supporting that assertion, please. The good old scientific method in action, since even the Linguistics board in SciForums is still a place of science?

    I lived half of my life before information technology became even slightly pervasive. I can assure you that people's spelling and grammar were just as bad in the old days. People used cute abbreviations and acronyms and substituted 2 for "to" and Y for "why" in the notes they sent each other in class. And we didn't have spelling and grammar checkers. Today, anyone who sincerely wants to write well can at least get some rudimentary help from the technology.
     
  10. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

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    I wanted my handwriting to show my personality, so I tweaked letters. Now I see the handwriting of an older generation and I'm kicking myself. Mine looks childish, theirs looks elegant.
     
  11. tim840 Registered Senior Member

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    yeah, i posted that more as an example of the way cursive letters look (for people who dont know what we mean by cursive - i take it theres a few) than for the directional arrows. i certainly dont write my 5s the way the poster shows - i do it the way you described. i also dont write my 8s the way the poster shows. i just make two ovals, one on top of the other.
     
  12. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

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    As have I. Perhaps our experiences simply have been very different.
    You seriously haven't noticed a massive increase in poor writing in your latter half?

    Regardless, perhaps at least this you may grant: when you and I were writing out essays longhand, errors in spelling and grammar were certainly less, if indeed not, acceptable.
     
  13. Search & Destroy Take one bite at a time Moderator

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    I can write a story, and from one paragraph to another, people will tell me the hand-writing looks as if a few different people wrote it. I think handwriting is heavily affected by mood and purpose. There is overarching structure inherent in everything I write, but it is hard to immediately recognize. I think people form quite an identity with handwriting, they want to analyze it and show it off.

    When I was a kid, I deemed cursive little value and never used it - just enough to pass the tests. I still think cursive has little utility, especially if you can already print fairly well. I make my 5's like the picture dictates btw... just jolt the wrist and the 5's have a hard corner.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
  14. Steve100 O͓͍̯̬̯̙͈̟̥̳̩͒̆̿ͬ̑̀̓̿͋ͬ ̙̳ͅ ̫̪̳͔O Valued Senior Member

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    I am one of the few then.
     
  15. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    For most people, nothing requiring formal instruction in cursive.

    IIRC Thomas Edison invented a quick printing style to take down Morse Code - it wasn't cursive, it was faster than cursive.

    I still say it looks like at least partly a class distinction in the first place, and almost totally a status and class distinction after the typewriter. People who had a "good hand" had a little extra status, girls who were not eligible for jobs were taught penmanship as well as given piano lessons, etc. Orleander's sentiment is common:
    My grandmother, a schoolteacher, wrote a Spencerian script - people have been known to frame pages of her letters, and hang them on the wall.

    That said, I agree with Glaucon that there is some kind of a connection between disappearance of handwriting and a certain degradation of grammar, spelling, prose style, etc. Some people - maybe not all - have a physical or somatic connection with thinking. They think by hand, learn by hand, to a degree. I have noticed in teaching math that some students get important insight out of drawing geometric figures by hand, graphing by hand, even writing out equations fully or doing simple arithmetic by hand, etc. We all know about the special pen or setup conducive, for some reason, to writing poetry - and the difficulty some people have writing poetry on a keyboard. The sound and the sense and the structure of the meanings do seem to connect through the hand, for many people.

    Odd it isn't standard to make little loops at those places, like cloverleaf intersections. At speed they would look like stops.

    My father spent some time in an orphanage, which forbade left-handed writing. One consequence was that he became a very fast typist in later years (despite not starting until he was in his late teens). Another is that he could write with both hands - at the same time, using one hand for the body of the letters and the other mostly for the crossmarks and dots and such. Done in two colors of pen, the result was striking.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
  16. Enmos Valued Senior Member

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    I don't make an 8 like that either. I start in the middle, going down counterclockwise.
     
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    What I've noticed is a massive increase in WRITING! Thirty years ago most people probably didn't write three letters a year, counting the long one they Xeroxed and sent to everybody at Christmas. Only people who actually liked to write wrote, and they were self-selected for the skill and interest that made it easy to do correctly.

    Nowadays it seems that most people send out several e-mails every day, younger people text-message more often than that, and an amazing number of us post on internet boards. Today people are writing who don't have the aptitude and education to do it well.

    I saw the same thing in music. In the late 1950s and early 1960s there was a lot of abysmally bad guitar-playing going on at parties and other gatherings. But that's because millions of people who would never have thought of taking up the instrument a generation previously ran into the nearest music store (or Sears Roebuck) when Dwayne Eddy and Chuck Berry revolutionized guitar music. They didn't have the aptitude to learn or the dedication to practice, but they had the interest to do it poorly and enjoy it.
    Don't get me started on a tirade about the dilapidation of the American educational system. I hate to sound like one of those old guys going on about walking five miles through the snow to go to a music store that only sold vinyl records. I.e., I don't think the decline in communication or any other skill is the direct effect of new technology.
    Sure, but since it wasn't cursive nobody else could read it. It was a code. The whole point of cursive writing is that the letters are basically printed letters in a different font with connecting strokes. Theoretically, if you can read printing you should be able to figure out cursive writing pretty quickly even if you've never seen it before. It takes training to write, but not to read. Of course that's a stretch with several of the lower-case letters like F, R and S.

    Cursive writing, since by definition it's not printed, has not been standardized among nations. It can be very difficult to read the handwriting of someone from Spain or Poland. Some of them make a lower case R that looks more like the printed font, but they they have other letters that are not easily recognized. You have to take an inventory and figure out which one is missing and say, "Aha, this must be the way they write a P in Lower East Saxony."
    It was a mark of distinction even before the typewriter. Calligraphy was a profession. People wanted the effect of intimacy that comes with sending out handwritten things like wedding invitations, but they didn't think their own handwriting was worthy.

    Look at the countries that use Chinese characters. Writing really is an art to them. Even a humble home has a wise old saying painted beautifully by a calligrapher in 1000-point type, framed and hanging on a wall prominently. And painters are expected to make their signatures part of the art of their paintings.

    And of course the average citizen writes Chinese characters in a fast cursive style, with the strokes connected and with corners rounded.
    Written language and spoken language do not use exactly the same brain centers. Like many people who have had strokes and lose their speech, my father could write perfectly. Speaking, understanding speech, writing and reading are four distinct abilities even though they have much in common.

    Anyone who's studied a foreign language has come up against that realization. Most of us do best with reading and worst with writing, with speaking and oral understanding in between ranked according to the language. It's easier to understand spoken Chinese than to speak it, whereas Spanish is just the opposite.
    And here I thought I was the only one who did that, although I go up clockwise. I developed that as an affectation when I was a teenager. I also make my nines with the staff sticking into the lower right quadrant of the loop instead of the upper right quadrant, which I picked up from Europeans. I tried making my sevens the European way, with a loop on both corners and a slash across the staff, but everybody thought they were fours.
     
  18. Enmos Valued Senior Member

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    Doesn't it look like a capital "G" ?

    I lost the loops a long time ago, but I still make the slash.
     
  19. CutsieMarie89 Zen Registered Senior Member

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    I write 5's just like that, too. in fact now that I think of it most of letters I write I do it counter clockwise. Does it slow you down when writing, because I am a pretty slow writer. Compared to other people, I can never get notes down fast enough in class, unless I scribble and even then I still write too slow.
     

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