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Has Cursive Writing Fallen from Grace?

By Kym Gordon Moore

Cursive writing flows across the paper like a magical song reverberating through the strings of a harp. Cursive lettering is more difficult than block lettering (or casual style writing). Lines, loops, spirals and swirls work rhythmatically in slants and rollercoaster hoops.

The formality of cursive writing was used in professional correspondence before the development of the typewriter in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Cursive connected words in a single stroke are quite distinctive from “printing” or block lettering. “Joined up writing” is a common phrase for cursive writing in British English. “Running Writing” is the term sometimes used in Australia.

There are different types of handwriting styles in two categories:

• Manuscript (print)

• Cursive

I remember during first and second grades, using the white tablet paper sectioned by solid blue and red lines, with dashes of a blue line running through the middle of the two. The area between the line of dashes down to the solid red line at the bottom of the section was the perimeter for small letters. The range between the solid blue top line and solid red bottom line was the designated area to write capital letters. The continuous development in personal penmanship brought a sense of pride in your written work.

Let’s step back into history for a moment and examine the signatures on the Declaration of Independence, signed by members of Congress on July 4, 1776. Notice how the printing of this document flows with influences from a combination of Cursive, Script, Old English and Manuscript lettering. Frequently, I always heard a phrase when someone made a request for my signature, they’d ask for my “John Hancock.” No one could ever give me an explanation on the origins of this saying, so I came up with my own summation. After looking at the image of the Declaration of Independence, the one signature that pops out at me located in the middle of the bottom portion of the document was that of John Hancock. Perhaps his creative and bold style brought forth some bantering from his colleagues. But if you look closely at each individual signature, it is clearly evident that these Congressional members were extremely meticulous about their stately penmanship.

With the advent of computers, cursive writing became unstandardized across different school systems in a variety of English speaking countries. It seems like handwriting skills are declining primarily due to the convenience and assortment of fonts stored on computers. Anyone can combat that claim by fine tuning your handwriting when you practice slanting your letters consistently and make the letters continuous. The partnership between pen and paper are used as an avenue to promote personal writing expressions, just like a paintbrush is to canvas – allowing the hand to sway and glide with creativity.

Many people look to re-popularize great and monumental things from the past that have been instrumental in the progression of modern technology and human development. We often hear this saying: “Everything old is new again.” This is clearly evident as we see car manufacturers going retro in their body styles, fashion trends rotating full circle, today’s commercials are using many popular songs from artists of yesteryear and anything vintage is a collector’s haven!

Now-a-days, “rarity” is an asset. Some creative traditions like cursive writing should not be deemed as becoming completely blasé. Despite the fact that cursive writing lost its popularity due to the lack of demand and modern technology, why not sit down and take time to rediscover the elegance and personal satisfaction of what this invaluable talent has to offer. Who knows if cursive writing will become retroactive? You certainly wouldn’t want to be left in the dark if it does.

Kym Gordon Moore has over twenty six years of writing experience throughout her corporate career, in various industries from fashion and special event coordination to marketing, public relations and sales. She is intrigued by creative handwriting and many of her articles, essays, short stories and poems appeared in a variety of magazines, newspapers, ezines and anthologies. http://www.kymgmoore.com Kym’s email is kymwrites@kymgmoore.com .

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