Friday, 3 August 2012

Block und Bleistift

According to the National Geographic(the July 2012 issue, p. 28), cursive is dying out. In 2010, a survey showed that "85 percent of collegians printed when they wrote", and that as of this year, teachers focus on teaching their students how to type, not how to write in cursive.

I remember learning how to write cursive, how the letters needed to touch specific lines in our exercise books and how, in Grade 3, we started drawing little hearts and circles instead of the i-dots. I remember getting my first Lamy fountain pen, in blue. It is still the pen of choice when writing exams that take three hours.

Even if my handwriting is deemed illegible, I like it. Everything is so nicely bound, every word a little unit, tied by the cursive connectors, stitched, flowing, growing into something of meaning. How can cursive be dying out? The article states that all writing is, in fact, becoming outdated. It is true, no one really writes anything out any more. We type emails, not letters. We even type and print out letters. I mean, think about how often you still write things down? Even note-taking in class is increasingly done on laptops and ipads and whatever else. We WhatsApp, BBM, and sms to communicate. It is the sign of progress, but also a sign of loss.

My Afrikaans grandmother's handwriting is minuscule. My German grandmother's u's have a little line over them to distinguish them from her n's. My father's handwriting presses through to the next few pages clearly. My sister's handwriting is very straight and orderly and legible. My mom and I sign the 'zsch' at the end the same way. My friend Gunda's handwriting looks like it is always smiling. I know it is you writing without having to look at the name.

Cursive might be slowly disappearing, and I understand that legibility is important, but our handwriting is our fingerprint on the page. No Calibri, no Helvetica, no Times New Roman can replace that. It will be a sad day when handwriting becomes a rarity. Just look at these beauties:

Do you recognize your own?

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