Friday, June 19, 2009

Can You Read Cursive?

As a summer job, a bright college student friend of ours has agreed to type a handwritten diary from the 1930s into a digital file. The old handwriting looked quite legible to me, but the student remarked that she didn't read cursive very well. I was surprised, and even more surprised when I remembered that another bright college student friend who had done the same work for me last summer, had made the same remark.

I'm in the process of transcribing some old German church records, written in old style German handwriting. This style was taught in German schools until about 1920, so anyone educated after that has a hard time reading this cursive script (meaning not many living people can read it easily.) I can muddle though the records I'm transcribing which consist mostly of names and dates with a few other notations.

Will my grandchildren have the same difficulty reading my handwriting as I have reading the old German handwriting? I asked my grandson about it. He has just completed fourth grade and told me he learned cursive last year in third grade. The students in his school are required to form their letters according to a set pattern and they are graded on the quality of their handwriting when they turn in homework. Apparently, his school (a charter school that emphasizes traditional standards --- everyone takes Latin, for example) is in the minority. Many schools have de-emphasized handwriting skills and the students, even in the lower grades, use computers for their assignments.

When I was a student 60 years ago, we learned a cursive alphabet called Zaner-Blosser. It may have been a variation of the Palmer Method of handwriting. Spencerian script was the predecessor of the Palmer Method. The alphabet that my grandson wrote out for me was a simpler version of Zaner-Blosser, minus all the little loops that I always thought were ugly and silly. Some calligraphers have advocated teaching children an italic hand, drawn with a chisel-shaped nib.

We'll see how the bright college student friend does with the 1930s handwriting. And time will tell if my grandson in his old age is one of the few people who can still read cursive.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting
anywhere, when i read this piece of writing i thought i could also
make comment due to this good post.
My web page: funnymariogames

9:46 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home