« Christmas Schedule (Blog Note) | Main | TWO: The Twelve Links of Christmas 2022*: Coolest Little Hard Drive »

Monday, 19 December 2022


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

A fellow leftie? That explains soooo much Mike.

Are you like me, in that I only write left handed. Racket sports, throwing a ball etc, all right handed. And funnily enough, if I write on a blackboard, I have to use my right hand.

Cursive is worth learning, simply for the beauty of it. In this sometimes cruel world, teaching people a skill that is intrinsically beautiful may have more value than is immediately apparent.

Cursive is still taught in Germany.My son learned it in the third grade with a fountain pen. Now, in the 5th grade, I'm impressed with his handwriting.
I notice I think differently when writing by hand.

I wound up with 2.5 styles of printing, one for my own notes (many letter forms like cursive, because I write with a fountain pen, so words wish to be connected), one to be legible to others (a like print a, and that is only the beginning), and an in between that is for doing math, which tilts one way or another.

Having discovered fountain pens early, I write my cursive like the tourist-trap declarations of independence you find. I like it, but others find it hard to read, hence the print style. My wife somehow keeps near perfect elementary school style cursive. Even the Q is right (flashback to Bart trying to read cursive, and reading aloud two-wentin, astonishing mostly because who can write cursive on a chalkboard? Chalk leans to print letters even harder than ballpoint!). I suppose I should practice my cursive. But I should also practice my math, practice my typing, practice my photography. Oh my.

Math print mostly has to do with the fact that it uses graphemes from two alphabets plus numerals, so without discipline, rho and p look the same. Heck, try distinguishing O fro 0 from Ø. No matter which way you write 0, you have problems. See https://johnkerl.org/doc/ortho/ortho.html

Also, I learned to type poorly in my middle school years. My right ring finger and pinky share their work wrong. This started to shift when, forced by wrist pain, I went to an ergonomic ortholinear keyboard. If you want a distraction, wade into keyboard enthusiasm. One thing about hunt and peck typing is that your hands don't get into excessively poor postures. Count yourself lucky in that way.

At any event, I think slower than I can type. Which, given that typists who have to record human speech in real time can only keep up using specialized chorded keyboards (go watch a court reporter at work), means that I talk much, much faster than I can think.

At age 75, I remember not feather pens, but using metal nibs on handles(?), dipped in an ink pot in the top right of the desk. This was in primary school, about ages 6-8, 1953-55.

Then we changed to Biros mid '50s. They were great! Unless they leaked, not uncommonly.

Then on into high school, 1960-1964, it was fountain pens. First the ones with the little lever to suck the ink in. Parker Quink ink. Then cartridges came along, so no more buying bottles of ink.

And every pen had to be worn in, the nib used repeatedly until it wore a profile depending on your hand and the paper. Aaah, memories.

I used a steel nib pen when first in school. In those days the desks had little pots let into the desk to hold ink. If you were the teachers pet you got the job of filing these little pots. The pens were a bugger to use. One bad move and tou had a big splotch on your copy and a clips round the ear for making a mess.

Maybe it's because I am older than you, or maybe it a UK thing, but I write in cursive. It's much faster. My grandchildren 10,11 and 15 years have all been taught cursive.

This raises question for me. Can you print as fast as you can write in cursive (or script as we called it in school)? I cannot, but my printing skills are very rusty.

I'm envious of past generation's cursive writing. I look at my paternal grandfather's notes and signatures with awe. People were proud of their writing abilities in those times.

Me? Don't ask. I never had very good handwriting and it got worse over time. My first semester at college killed my abilities with cursive writing completely. My class notes were unreadable so I developed a way to print quickly and legibly. Today, I'm only able to write my signature. And that's an illegible flourish. I was told once that a person's signature was to be recognized not necessarily read. I guess I took that as gospel so now I just scratch what kinda looks like some letters.

"...there's been no real reason to write in cursive since the ballpoint pen reached technical maturity..."

So can we expect the signature line on checks (and legal documents) to go away, or will an "X" suffice?

For the longest time, the only cursive I wrote was when writing checks. But then I thought, why do I do that? From then on, I just printed. I print in my journal as well. As children, one of our punishments for bad behavior was writing lines in very neat cursive, like we were in The Simpsons (my dad was a school teacher and thought it was a good way to modify behavior). I could write neatly, but only if I did it extremely slowly, like I was drawing each letter. My adult cursive looks horrible, like a pile of wrinkled clothing, so I'm happy to be rid of it.

It is amazing that many ladies of a certain age have excellent penmanship, and they all seem similar.

I am convinced that college ruined my penmanship. Copying voluminous notes quickly made my writing such that even *I* can't read it sometimes. I suspect that this is why doctors have such notoriously bad writing.

Thank you so much.
Now I finally have an excuse that sounds believable.

Leonardo da Vinci used to write as a left-hander:


Amazingly, he could also write as a right-hander!

If you think your handwriting is poor, how about a video of a master penman doing a portrait of MLK with one single line?



Maybe you would get along with a Waverly nib.


I don't use them often, but I have quite a few "handwriting" (i.e., cursive) fonts, many of relatively recent vintage. (All in free collections from various sources.) I don't use them often, but apparently they are still popular. So rumors of the demise of cursive may be, well, you know...

When I started school in British Columbia, Canada in 1948 we learned to write and print using the H.B. MacLean Method. The illustrated textbook was designed for writing with your righthand. And even some lefties learned to use their righthand, if they were keen.

The problem for the lefties was they weren't taught how to change the orientation of the writing surface to accommodate their handedness, hence why as you did Mike, it was necessary to curl your hand into a claw and write with your hand suspended over the page. My younger-by-four-years brother was a leftie and like you, that was his technique. Hence like all the other lefties any kind of writing was almost illegible.

I always wondered why lefties weren't instructed how to change the slant of the writing surface opposite to that of a righthander. It really is that simple; and I had figured that out when I was seven! I've known lefties who wrote in the correct orientation for their hand, and they wrote beautifully.

But like anything else, well written cursive is all about practice. And some of us are better at that than others. And if you're good you can be very quick. I wasn't as good as I was quick, but nonetheless I could still read all my lecture notes.

Happy Cursive Holidays.

mom had been a country school teacher and used the palmer penmanship method, as did the local school system

dad was totally ambidextrous but favored his left...the nuns in the deep south tried to beat that out of him...it didn't take, he wrote beautifully with either hand

we had a mess of kids and all but one wrote lovely public school cursive, we had a mix of lefties and righties

i developed a hybrid script for the graphic work i did and used it until a greater variety of similar fonts arrived on the scene

anyway, maybe because handwriting was so important in our family i find myself very judgmental when looking at the written word

i have noticed that arthritis and computer graphics has affected my own cursive

Yeah, I went to blockprint and upper-case only in 8th grade. Because back then, computers didn't have lowercase, and variable names in programs were short and had (of course) to be exactly right (6 characters for most of the languages I used then). When reading actual English there's lots of redundancy to help you along, but short arbitrary variable names have a lot less and you have to really read them.

Then I did everything in uppercase block-print for quite a long time.

Then I started working on more modern computer languages and terminals that supported long variable names and that supported lower-case characters. That was a mess. I had to go back to cursive for that since I had completely lost the details of printing lowercase letters. Finally things evolved far enough that even the first drafts and notes were mostly typed, but I still have to write lowercase now and then so I still can do cursive in my own weird way.

Don't get me going on the death of cursive. I've written longhand most of my life. But when my now 21-year-old daughter was in elementary school, I realized our school system had abandoned cursive instruction. At the time, I didn't think much about the significance of this.

Fifteen years later, when my daughter turned 18, I photocopied the journal entry I wrote several days after she was born. In it, I had lovingly described everything that happened in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of her birth. I also wrote about what it was like taking care of an infant as a 46-year-old man. Having written in cursive all of my life, I wrote her birth account longhand, as well.

I thought she would be thrilled to read about her birth from her Dad's perspective. But when she opened the gift package that contained my story, she looked at me funny. She couldn't read cursive.

There is a subset of fountain pen enthusiasts who are also handwriting enthusiasts (Not calligraphy, but Italic and classic cursive). My writing is a mix of Italic print and cursive which gives me the best chance of getting semi-legible notes on paper quickly. 90%+ of my writing is with fountain pens with stub nibs which produce nice line variation(think vertical lines wider than horizontal lines). 90%+ of the remaining writing is with traditional nib fountain pens.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007