Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Write Stuff

I recently finished reading a fascinating book by Kitty Burns Florey titled Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting. It's a very interesting look at the development of writing systems, the history of cursive script, and the declining art of writing things (other than shopping lists) by hand. Nowadays, children learn to print, then to "keyboard." The elegant cursive script learned by those of us of a certain age is not much addressed, and the value of good handwriting is minimized.

Those of you who have received my letters and postcards know that my handwriting is the sorrow of the nuns who tried to beat the Palmer Method into me in grade school...
Nevertheless, good handwriting, like good speaking, is an important component of how we are perceived by others. Time was that elegant handwriting was a sign of a good education and general social grace. Nowadays we print or type, and typewritten letters offer no sense of the personal effort that went into the creation of the epistle. For business writing, typing may be all right...for personal correspondence, there's nothing like ink on paper in one's own hand.

Ms Florey discusses the development of various writing systems and the evolution of writing instruments, from sharpened reeds to quills to dipping pens to various types of fountain pens, ballpoints, rollerballs, felt-tips, etc. You can even learn to make your own ink.

She also refers you to a wonderful website called Omniglot, a guide to the writing systems and languages of the world. At this site you can find all the various alphabets of the world - present and past, real and imagined. Trekkies can find Klingon and Romulan, and fans of The Lord of the Rings will find Tolkien's Dwarvish and Elvish scripts (although the Dwarvish runes are mischaracterized as the alphabet of the orcs). You can also find pronunciation guides and hints for learning foreign languages. You don't need to have a degree in Linguistics to enjoy the site and find it fascinating.

Do you have the write stuff? Read Ms Florey's book, check out Omniglot, and find out by writing Ol' Bilbo a letter.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

9 comments:

KKTSews said...

Orcs write? No way! How'd someone make that mistake?
Even with a fountain pen, my cursive is horrid. Keyboarding it is!

The Mistress of the Dark said...

We all know my handwriting is horrible :)

Amanda said...

I never got the hang of writing entirely in cursive. Its always been a mixture for me. I hope you've been able to decipher my handwriting :)

Leslie David said...

OMG, YES!!! My handwriting has deteriorated since I type everything and I type faster than I write. I was taught backwards--I never learned to print, instead I learned to read and write in Portuguese when I was in first grade while living in Brazil, and since paper is scarce, I was taught to write a very small European script using a fountain pen. You can imagine what I thought when I came back to the US in third grade when they teach you to write cursive here and they handed me the paper with the huge lines--what am I supposed to do with this??? My mother had to explain this to my teachers who were not exactly thrilled with my tiny but legible script. My younger sister's penmanship is so crummy I wished she'd type. My mom used to type her letters because she was a secretary, although she and my father both have beautiful handwriting. My almost 14 year old nieces don't seem to have been taught cursive at all, since everything I've received from them has been printed.

fiona said...

I feel another letter to you coming on! TCI writes like a chicken scratching on paper, WT on the other has has beautiful cursive...?

wv- knuffy - a fluffy knife

Leslie David said...

The runes featured on the cover of The Hobbit are for real--they comprise the elder futhark--that being the name of the alphabet and are the abbreviation of the first 6letters (like alpha and beta)--the letters standing for Fehu (domestic cattle or material wealth), Uruz (a wild ox or strength), Thurisaz (a giant or force of nature), Ansaz (one of the Aesir or elder gods or ancestor), Raidho (ride, journey or wheel), and Kenaz (light, torch, or fire).

Just ask your friendly neighborhood pagan.

Mike said...

Printing vs readable cursive is actually a brain thing. I'll try and dig up where I've read that before.

Wv - ingshur - falsehood, ING is not so sure these days.

Bilbo said...

Katherine - I've known you long enough that I can actually read your cursive. Most of the time. Well, some of the time.

Andrea - your handwriting isn't any worse than mine.

Amanda - I'm not sure how your handwriting is, as it's more printing than cursive. But it's very legible, thank you!

Leslie 1 - give me a sample next time I see you and we'll see how it is. If I can see it, that is.

Fiona - your handwriting is just like mine...very legible and nice up front, then it gets wobbly later. Come to think of it, that's how I am, myself. Hmmm...time to change the subject.

Leslie 2 - I'm glad you're friendly.

Mike - when you find it, why not write me a letter and tell me about it, ha, ha.

Mike said...

What, and let loose of this thing we've got going? I'm going to drag this out for years.

Wv - tritec - The third technical school built in the area.