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Cursive vs Print

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Cursive vs Print

Postby Huny » Tue Aug 08, 2006 6:41 pm

We that speak and write English have two ways to write the written word. We can write in cursive and/or print. Cursive means having the successive letters joined. It comes from the Latin (scripta) cursiva, running (script). The cursive almost looks like a different language from printing when written because some letters look very different in cursive. Is there any other language that does this, if not, why do we do it? And does this make it harder for people to learn to write and read English as a second language? I'm sure someone out there has the answer...BD? Hint, hint.
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Re: Cursive vs Print

Postby sluggo » Tue Aug 08, 2006 6:48 pm

Huny wrote:We that speak and write English have two ways to write the written word. We can write in cursive and/or print. Cursive means having the successive letters joined. It comes from the Latin (scripta) cursiva, running (script). The cursive almost looks like a different language from printing when written because some letters look very different in cursive. Is there any other language that does this, if not, why do we do it? And does this make it harder for people to learn to write and read English as a second language? I'm sure someone out there has the answer...BD? Hint, hint.


Ask a German to write "meinem" in "Sütterlin" script. Imagine a sawtooth wave pattern with a dozen peaks, no break in between!
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Postby Stargzer » Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:21 pm

Japanese uses three types of writing, according to Wikipedia:

The Japanese language is written with a combination of three different types of glyphs: Chinese characters (called kanji), and two syllabic scripts, hiragana and katakana. The Latin alphabet (called rōmaji) is also often used in modern Japanese, especially for things such as company names, advertising, and when inputting Japanese into a computer. Western style Arabic numerals are generally used for numbers, but traditional Chinese/Japanese numberings are also commonplace.

Regards//Larry

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Postby Perry » Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:37 pm

Hebrewalso has block letters and cursive letters. Some of them are quite different in looks from their counterparts. (In the linked page you will see that some of the letters appear twice. These have a slightly different form when they fall at the end of a word.)

Hebrew also has what is called full writing and missing writing. Certain letters (vav for instance) are sometimes used as vowels. When a word is written with the vowel marks, such a letter is left off. When written without the vowel marks (such as in a newspaper, or from a word processor, or even by hand), the word will now appear with that letter.
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Postby Palewriter » Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:14 pm

Back when I was a young schoolboy at the Torquemada Institute of Lower Learning, my classmates and I were forced to use pens with steel nibs, which had to be dipped in an inkwell filled to the brim (every morning) with school-issue blue-black ink of an indelibility only matched today by the exploding dye-bags in today's ATM machines.

Admittedly, this was a time before Elvis cut his first record, but ballpoint pens (known then as Biros) certainly existed. However, they were still a relatively recent invention and, like Elvis a few years later, they were regarded by our teachers as dire Instruments of Change, fully on a par with anarchism, nudism or republicanism. Fountain pens could only be used by teachers, of course. We little snot-nosed heathens had to learn to write using the equivalent of a small shovel dipped in blue glue.

At that time, at least in England, cursive writing was known as "real writing" and was obligatory. Try writing the word "beautifully" fifty times in cursive script using a pen with a blunt or broken steel nib on coarse and highly absorbant Austerity British notepaper (apparently made from recycled teeth or something) without showering little blots of blue-black ink all over a) the page, b) yourself and c) anyone standing within a distance of five feet.

Of course, any result less elegant than calligraphy that would've warmed the heart of a Medieval Abbot would be punished with a whack over the knuckles with a wooden ruler. "You'll NEVER amount to anything, Snodgrass, if you can't do REAL (whack) WRITING (whack)!"

To this day, I print letter by letter. By choice, I use a propelling PENCIL, although I'm also a whiz (yes, Mark) at the QUERTY-board and at text messaging on a cellphone with a keypad almost smaller than my thumb.

A pox on the good old days and on cursive script.

-- PW
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Postby Huny » Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:40 pm

Thanks for the link Perry. 8) I never knew Hebrew had two written forms of script. It looks very complicated compaired to English letters. Would that be because that is what I have know all my life, or is it really that much more complex?I would say it all looked Greek to me, but that would the wrong language, huh? :D
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Postby Bailey » Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:46 pm

I know what you are talking about, penmanship was valued, very long ago... my mother had lovely penmanship (big word silly concept) of course her writing was illegible as is mine which is ugly, so which is better?

mark can-barely-read-own-writing Bailey

actually a lot of the time I can't read my own writing, I think it's because I type most everything, no wiz here.

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Postby Huny » Wed Aug 09, 2006 12:07 am

Great story pw! I guess it would be safe to say that, as usual, I am the last to know you are English? Or did I get that wrong, too? :roll: My 90 year old grandmother tells me stories about her days using the pen-dipped-in-the retched-ink system. This must have been soon after they retired the quill-dipped-in-ink method. They would never let them print, it was always cursive, and she was good at it. Very proper. She still, to this very day, writes the same way as she did in school. (I know this only because I have seen some of her journals from her days of being a wee lass). But then again she was at her peak of her OCD days ergo she taught herself (with a little help from one special teacher) fluent Latin in hopes to one day become one of the few female doctors in the state of South Carolina. But, alas, those hopes were dashed away by her Holier-than-thou father. So, now the Latin has left her mind due to lack of use. She tells me if she had known better at the time, she would have taught me Latin as a second language when I started to learn English. I feel cheated. :( But that was not a common thing to teach children back in the early 70's and it is a crying shame!!
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Postby gailr » Wed Aug 09, 2006 12:18 am

I've noticed that my right-minded creative friends (generally) perpetrate cursive handwriting so wretched that we are exceeded only by physicians scribbling prescriptions.

My left-brained IT-type friends (generally) execute cursive handwriting so legible as to bring tears of appreciation to the beady eyes of a teaching nun. When I was doing a lot of technical illustration, my handwriting improved remarkably.

Left to my own devices I print everything except my signature; I have no idea what it actually says, but so far every one's accepting it...

Writing with the cursive form of a second language is both blessing and curse. In a moment of desperation, you can try to fake your way through an unsure spelling by schlumping a bunch of loops together and hoping for le best. The sharper teachers, however, are on to this tactic. The cursing part is that many cursive letters look nothing like their printed counterparts (Cyrillic, anyone?).

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who can draw everything real good 'ceptin' letters and such
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Postby Huny » Wed Aug 09, 2006 12:22 am

Bailey wrote:I know what you are talking about, penmanship was valued, very long ago... my mother had lovely penmanship (big word silly concept) of course her writing was illegible as is mine which is ugly, so which is better?

mark can-barely-read-own-writing Bailey

actually a lot of the time I can't read my own writing, I think it's because I type most everything, no wiz here.


Bailey, maybe you were destined to be a doctor if you say your writing is that bad. It seem the messier the writing, the more money people make. But, and take no offense men, men tend to have not so good penmanship compared to women (usually). :wink: Well, in most cases. Ok, so maybe I am taking this opportunity to male bash. I just call it like I see it- or not. um...nevermind...

Huny, who is both left and right handed, and it looks like two different people's writing--
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Postby Stargzer » Wed Aug 09, 2006 12:30 am

Palewriter wrote:Back when I was a young schoolboy at the Torquemada Institute of Lower Learning, my classmates and I were forced to use pens with steel nibs, which had to be dipped in an inkwell filled to the brim (every morning) with school-issue blue-black ink of an indelibility only matched today by the exploding dye-bags in today's ATM machines.

. . .

but ballpoint pens (known then as Biros) certainly existed. However, they were still a relatively recent invention and, like Elvis a few years later, they were regarded by our teachers as dire Instruments of Change, . . . Fountain pens could only be used by teachers, of course. We little snot-nosed heathens had to learn to write using the equivalent of a small shovel dipped in blue glue.

. . .

Of course, any result less elegant than calligraphy that would've warmed the heart of a Medieval Abbot would be punished with a whack over the knuckles with a wooden ruler. "You'll NEVER amount to anything, Snodgrass, if you can't do REAL (whack) WRITING (whack)!"

To this day, I print letter by letter.

. . .

A pox on the good old days and on cursive script.

-- PW


Well, our old desks (the ones that were screwed to wooden runners, where the front your desk held the seat for the desk in front) still had inkwells at St. J's, but they were to fill the fountain pens. I don't remember when we finally converted to ballpoint pens, but I know we were using them in high school (grade 9). Early on the nuns told us that ballpoints leaked too much. I can't imagine anything leaving more unneeded ink a a page than a fountain pen in my hand.

I never did good in Penmanship; even my printing was problematic. I sometimes think it's because I think faster than I can write. With my handwriting I was expected to become either a doctor or someone famous. Alas, neither one has come to pass.

I did use a scratch pen and ink for letters in the early 70s; it forced me to slow down and think so I wouldn't be so sloppy.

One of my proud posessions, however, is a fountain pen in a stand with the words "U. S. Government" on the barrel of the pen. I found it in a supply cabinet many years ago, and had a bottle of Script (R) ink for it, but I think the ink either dried up or leaked. Oh, well, at least yhou can still find ink in an art store.

I managed to cadge (Strange; Stargzer always thought it was to cadger, not to cadge!) a manual typewriter early in my career, as I was able to compose better (i. e. faster and more legibly) at a keyboard than with pencil and paper. I had to leave it when I moved to a different agency, but the advent of the PC and word processing programs (MultiMate) was my savior.
Regards//Larry

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Postby Huny » Wed Aug 09, 2006 1:04 am

gailr wrote:I've noticed that my right-minded creative friends (generally) perpetrate cursive handwriting so wretched that we are exceeded only by physicians scribbling prescriptions.

My left-brained IT-type friends (generally) execute cursive handwriting so legible as to bring tears of appreciation to the beady eyes of a teaching nun. When I was doing a lot of technical illustration, my handwriting improved remarkably.

Left to my own devices I print everything except my signature; I have no idea what it actually says, but so far every one's accepting it...

Writing with the cursive form of a second language is both blessing and curse. In a moment of desperation, you can try to fake your way through an unsure spelling by schlumping a bunch of loops together and hoping for le best. The sharper teachers, however, are on to this tactic. The cursing part is that many cursive letters look nothing like their printed counterparts (Cyrillic, anyone?).

- g a i l r
who can draw everything real good 'ceptin' letters and such


How funny, gailr! I agree with you 100%. My father (creative) is a south paw and has chicken scratch-bad! But my IT x-husband (right handed) has beautiful handwriting and print. I am ambidextrous, right dominant with writing, have neat cursive and print, but the left hand, the one I shoot a gun with, shoot pool with and archery with, is the chicken scratch hand. Like alter egos. I, too, use that schlumping way of writing when I am unsure of the spelling of a word, for I am not a good speller. Why that is, I have no idea. It's called survival (and not wanting your boss and coworkers thinking you dropped out of school at the tender age of seven, therefore getting a paranoid feeling that you are about to fired because now it looks like you lied on your resume).
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Postby Palewriter » Wed Aug 09, 2006 1:10 am

Stargzer wrote:Well, our old desks (the ones that were screwed to wooden runners, where the front your desk held the seat for the desk in front) still had inkwells at St. J's, but they were to fill the fountain pens. I don't remember when we finally converted to ballpoint pens, but I know we were using them in high school (grade 9). Early on the nuns told us that ballpoints leaked too much. I can't imagine anything leaving more unneeded ink a a page than a fountain pen in my hand.


We seem to share (roughly) the same geezerhood.

I think the UK was about 10 years behind the US at this time, as far as ballpoint pens, automobiles, indoor plumbing and other such peripheral nonsense was concerned. Blame WWII all you want; I blame the British penchant for "going it alone."

Moving even further off-topic, I remember my first inkling (pun intended) of Grave Injustice; one of many such to follow. The inkwells mentioned above had to be filled every morning with vile ink from a large bottle with a very dubious spout. The boy appointed to perform this duty was called the Ink Monitor. We had monitors for almost everything, but that's several other stories. In any event, I remember watching with horror the first day of school, when the teacher asked for volunteers to be Ink Monitor (a forest of hands...we were still such innocent little tykes). There was one lad in our class who suffered from some strange condition, which manifest itself in a kind of constant trembling or quivering. Let's call this poor chap Billy. Well, to my shock and awe, who should be chosen for as Ink Monitor but Billy? You'd as soon have seen an epileptic chosen to perform some difficult brain surgery. The strangeness, possibly the perversity, of this decision simply rocked my faith in authority forever. Don't get me wrong, I didn't want to be Ink Monitor myself (I was already a Milk Monitor). It was simply the inappropriate nature of the decision to appoint poor, twitching Billy to the post of Ink Monitor that rocked my world.

Of course, since then, I've learned that fundamental flaws don't necessarily preclude advancement in the strangest ways. I watched Richard Nixon become Prez in 1969, to name but a few. :wink:

But the memory of young Billy trying manfully to pour ink into each waiting inkwell every morning, all the while shaking like a leaf, pouring gobs of blue-black goo on desks, floors, everywhere, was a lesson to be learned. Folks in charge aren't always all that smart.

I don't know what happened to Billy. Fifty-something years on, I hope he's a successful mover and shaker. He surely was one back then.

-- PW
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Postby Flaminius » Wed Aug 09, 2006 4:37 am

Stargzer wrote:Japanese uses three types of writing, according to Wikipedia:

The Japanese language is written with a combination of three different types of glyphs: Chinese characters (called kanji), and two syllabic scripts, hiragana and katakana. The Latin alphabet (called rōmaji) is also often used in modern Japanese, especially for things such as company names, advertising, and when inputting Japanese into a computer. Western style Arabic numerals are generally used for numbers, but traditional Chinese/Japanese numberings are also commonplace.



Hiragana and katakana derived from cursive kanjis. And I pray you not be confused, modern Japanese kanjis are based on cursive forms of traditional kanjis (that which is still in use in Taiwan). One example is 県 (prefecture) being a shorthand for 縣 (I know this is not a great example but sorry, this is the only one I know I can type from my PC).

One oddity from Japanese cursive tradition is 々. This is not a character because it has no independent sound value or meaning. This is more like a symbol, which indicates the kanji immediately before it is repeated.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Wed Aug 09, 2006 8:09 am

Is there any other language that does this, if not, why do we do it? And does this make it harder for people to learn to write and read English as a second language?

All languages written in the Latin alphabet have cursive and print. But I suppose it can be hard for people whose language is written in another alphabet.

I'm told I have wonderful penmanship, by the way. :)
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