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Part two of the two-part series.
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meg worley's profile photoWolfgang Rupprecht's profile photoGene Heller's profile photoBrian Palmer's profile photo
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Reading this reminds me of budget debates. Everybody is quick to put more stuff in, but nobody is willing to throw the less worthwhile crap out.
Adding touch typing to the list of things taught in school automatically makes cursive writing redundant. Not only redundant, but slower and harder to read. It should be a no-brainer.

Did we have this sort of teary farewell when cameras came onto the scene and learning to paint was de-emphasized?

I wonder what the debates will look like in 20 years when computers take voice input and convert the speech to type much faster than a person can. Will we be mourning the loss of the expressiveness of grandma's emoticons that added so much to the feeling of her correspondences?
 
See, as I said in part one, I don't think cursive is less worthwhile crap at all. In fact, it is more worthwhile than block printing.
 
(Do you prefer discussion on your blog or here, by the way?)

The issue I have with your part 1 is that I regard block printing as a compromise for human readability. I can read my own cursive, but I know others have problems with mine; similarly, I have problems reading others' cursive writing.

For forms and notes, perhaps schools should focus on teaching people shorthand.
 
While your handwriting is beautiful, I found myself struggling to read it even after I expanded it to what must have been 24 pt. type. (Each graph square was 14mm on my screen.) While I'm sure that reflects more on my brain's cursive decoder not having been used much in these past decades, it also makes my point. There just isn't that much cursive that the average person will encounter. Sure, chiseling a thank-you note into a stone and mailing it off (or the less refined choice of quill-written page on papyrus) will show how refined one is, but is it a necessarily skill these days? It seems like we are entering the realm of a finishing school where young impressionable souls are made to believe that learning how to set a table with three forks, two knives, two spoons and three glasses somehow makes them a better person.
 
@Brian: I guess I have a slight preference for comments on the blog, but only slightly.

Human vs. machine readability: Certainly, in the past. But at the moment, block lettering seems to be demanded mainly for machines.

@Wolfgang: Reading my scanned writing on the screen is hardly a good test of readability. If I write something in an expected format -- say, my number on a cocktail napkin (with or without a Mae West-style come-on line) -- I'm fairly confident it will be quite readable to you, readable enough that you won't even think about legibility. You'll skip straight to the content, without giving the form a second thought.

As for thank-you notes, I'm not arguing that it's a necessary skill; I'm arguing that the meaningfulness part of the debate was in various ways misguided.
 
Thank-you notes can be typed in whole or part, for that matter. I find myself typing the longish letters I send to my computerless uncle merely so that I'll have a record of what I sent when I sit down to write the next one, four to eight months later. Carbons are smudgy (I remember them, tyvm, and the onionskin airmail things my mother used when writing to her sister not so very long ago).

Apparently I am commenting both here and on the blog to play devil's advocate with myself--though neither comment really cancels the other.
 
Several months ago I went to the Legion of Honor (an art museum in San Francisco, if you're an outlander reading this) to see the Magna Carta -- that is, "...one of four surviving manuscripts from the revised 1217 issue. The document is considered an original Magna Carta—not a copy, but an official engrossment or exemplification of the Latin text...
A landscape-format sheet of parchment roughly sixteen inches wide and twelve inches high, the Magna Carta contains fifty-six lines of hand-inscribed Latin text..."

Before going to the museum I had read it on line.

I reacted to these two different presentations of the same text in two very different ways. Reading the version on line got me thinking about legal rights and habeas corpus. Seeing the parchment version (not reading directly; a word-by-word translation from the Latin was nearby) got me thinking about the meadow at Runnymede where King John signed the document in the presence of barons and bishops in 1215. And in fact I felt a visceral reaction, a genuine thrill, when I worked my way up to stand directly in front of the display case.

Writing this now, I remember experiencing a very similar reaction years ago, visiting the National Archives to look at the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

If there's any validity at all to the notion of a connection to our past -- not just to the ideas but to the people who thought them up -- it's trivialized if we deposit everything they wrote into digital files on hard drives.

http://legionofhonor.famsf.org/legion/exhibitions/magna-carta
 
+meg worley Ha. I guess experiences differ: nowadays if something is supposed to be machine readable, the going assumption in my circles is that you'll be typing it directly. Human writing is for puny humans; and block lettering is just more readable.

Of course, +Wolfgang Rupprecht's point regarding how often one encounters cursive is spot on. Should English develop like Japanese, where cursive is the /hiragana/ to block writing's /katakana/?
 
(Somewhat random connection I saw when making sure that hiragana was the historical woman's writing: 'Historically, in Japan, the regular script (kaisho) form of the characters was used by men and called otokode (男手?), "men's writing", while the cursive script (sōsho) form of the kanji was used by women. Thus hiragana first gained popularity among women, who were generally not allowed access to the same levels of education as men. From this comes the alternative name of onnade (女手?) "women's writing"')
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