As a mom of primary/middle schoolers, cursive writing is a part of our day. But as my kiddos were being their usual snarky selves last week (I’ve raised them well, what can I say), the question arose of why certain letters look the way they do in cursive. Because yes, my kids question everything. Even things as innocuous as a Z. I choose to view that as a good thing, LOL. 😉
But Xoe then insisted that I look it up today for my word of the week. So here we go!
The word itself, cursive, comes from the Italian corsivo, which means “running.” The entire purpose of it is to allow speed in writing, especially in the days of quill pens, which are fragile and finicky compared to the pens we use today. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that cursive writing has been around for thousands of years. The word, however, has only been in English since 1784. Previously it had been called “joining-hand.”
Though most languages and alphabets have a form of cursive, I’ll focus on the English version. Apparently there was no standardization in the early days, with two predominant styles: what we’d call italic, with no loops for ascenders and descenders, and looped, where things like p and d have a loop to allow for easy flow into the next letter. By the 16th century cursive had come to look more or less like what we recognize today. Styles still varied here and there, and everyone didn’t always connect every letter, but standardization was probably helped along by businesses employing trained clerks to write in “fair hand” (easily readable script) for all their correspondence.
In more recent years, a few different techniques have arisen, which vary the method of learning to write the letters, but the letters themselves still end up looking largely the same. And of course, then we all leave school and write however we please anyway. 😉
Do you have opinions on cursive handwriting? Do you use it in your own handwriting?
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