Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Demise of Cursive Characters

The noted sinologist Victor Mair contributes to the Language Log. A recent post of his describes how in both China and the West, cursive writing is becoming a thing of the past. An excerpt of his post is below. The whole post may be read here.

In "The Case for Cursive," (NYT [April 28, 2011]), Katie Zezima states that:
For centuries, cursive handwriting has been an art. To a growing number of young people, it is a mystery.
The sinuous letters of the cursive alphabet, swirled on countless love letters, credit card slips and banners above elementary school chalk boards are going the way of the quill and inkwell. With computer keyboards and smartphones increasingly occupying young fingers, the gradual death of the fancier ABC’s is revealing some unforeseen challenges.

This immediately reminded me of the lamentations that have been widely voiced over the loss of the ability to write Chinese characters by hand that has been occasioned by the same technologies.


The difference between the impact of computers and smartphones (also mobile / cell phones) on cursive and on characters is that, in the former case, it is a loss of motor skills and esthetic sensitivity, whereas in the latter case, it is increasingly often the inability to produce many characters at all, whether clumsily or handsomely.


tao1776 said...

My hand writing has morphed into a half cursive, half print with a scribble thrown in. I no longer know anyone's phone number as they're all in my phone. Pay bills online and the only checks I write are to my soon to be ex-wife.

Rick Matz said...

My writing was never good and deteriorated, but I've been making an effort to simply take the time to pay attention to what I'm doing and I find that it easier on the eyes to look at.