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IN YOUR OWN WRITE . . .

 
 
Setanta
 
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2004 02:09 pm
I have spent much of my life with paper and words, and flatter myself that i've become quite good at reading hand written documents. I learned to read the handwriting of doctors while in the Army Medical Corps. Doctors, as a class, don't actually have handwriting which is noticeably more poorly executed than that of others, but they use medical shorthand when they write, and it can be a nightmare for those who are uncertain what letters they are reading when they have no context.

I've learned to read the handwriting of native francophones in the French language, and have always taken care when writing in French and in English to write a script, or to "print" my letters so as to be legible. But i notice that i get sloppy, and am always aware that what i write might not seem legible to others.

More than that, when i read other people's handwritten notes, i see egregious errors of spelling and grammar, not all of which can be explained by the errors we all make when writing or typing. I would tend to believe that the ability to write legibly is deteriorating, but i also recognize the need to remove the fogey factor. I'm getting older, and acknowledge the change in attitude which often leads the middle-aged and elderly to decry the decline in all things which they value.

What is your experience? Is your handwriting legible? What about the examples of others' handwriting which you have read?
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onyxelle
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2004 02:33 pm
In my experience.....having a legible handwriting is most times a conscious decision. My husband is a teacher, and when typing his lesson plans I have learned to read his handwriting - but when we first got together it was an awful awful time. My brother, who is 20+ years younger than my husband has horrible hw also. I have learned to write neatly & legibly regardless of my sitch, whether in leisure or in business, because my job forces me to be aware of the many people who read my writing daily.

I spend sometimes my entire day (at best 1/2 my day) in a courtroom writing the important aspects of court proceedings one day and typing (from someone elses hw'ing) the more important aspects of proceedings.

I agree w/ you that legible hw'ing is becoming less and less prevalent, but I think a lot of it has to do with the electronic age we're in. People no longer write letters, or notes, or even stories. All compositions are composed on the pc screen, which, IMHO, allow for a sort of atrophy of good control & letter formation when a person is writing. This, of course, applies to the general public and not those like drs and other professions who have always been noted for their quickly jotted down and frequently illegible notes.
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2004 02:46 pm
Good point, Onyx. All activity requires muscular training, or so I believe, whether it is writing or throwing a baseball. We're getting out of practice, except for doctors, of course. They still write <shudder> longhand.
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SealPoet
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2004 02:52 pm
My handwriting stank long before I learned to type.

Abandonded script very early... have a printing that works for me, but then again, I can sometimes find treasures in mis-reading things...
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2004 03:00 pm
Drafting skills are also going to hell...

I have been capable since childhood of excellent handwriting in short spurts, but have always had trouble keeping that up. My class notes would deteriorate within the class hour, and I used to rewrite them as part of my learning process.

I also used to practice different ways of writing. Within my age group, many learned the Palmer Method of handwriting and stuck to that like glue. Some of those folks decry their handwriting but it still looks fairly nice to me. I on the otherhand have a fast sloppy scrawl now unless I purposefully center on writing nicely, say in a notecard.

At the same time, I still do hand drafting at work most days, using the computer only for specifications, and print very well, thank you, on working drawings. I've done hand drafting for about twenty years now, and remember from the first class onward, sort of gearing myself up to master my inner spastic self. I found out later, when the drafting instructor became a friend, that his normal writing and printing is slobbish too. Yet I have other friends whose printing is always superb, day or night, year in, year out.

Some of my cohorts have had a strong natural sense of scale. My long time mentor would scribble a design on a scratch pad and you could then scale it off perfectly.
Not me, after all these years, I still aim my hand and think about sizing with every single line.

Then again, back in my research lab days, when I taught medical residents our new lab tests, I found that by comparison with most, I had extremely good hand eye coordination. Again, for the time of the test... a telephone note ten minutes later would be sloppy.

This all may contribute to my love of painting. As a painter I can use my more expressive sloppy self and my precise hand and eye.. either, when it fits what I am doing on the painting.

As to others' handwriting getting worse - I don't know, I don't see as much of it as I used to, don't look at medical charts any more, for example. It probably is, in the US anyway, as I don't think penmanship is emphasized as much as when I went through school.
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2004 03:53 pm
I learned to type fifty years ago and since then have almost always typed rather than writing by hand. Every time I audit a course or make notes at a lecture, I'm offended at being forced to scrawl.

My handwriting has deteriorated from lack of use. I can pen a decent sympathy note; write a grocery list or schedule of errands; and fill in forms (although I'd rather fill in forms on the typewriter) but if I must write at any length, my words become more and more difficult to read.

When it comes to deciphering other people's writing, I'm gifted--at least I'm gifted when I have some notion what the subject material is.
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drom et reve
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2004 02:10 am
I usually type documents up, but my handwriting is OK, I suppose. I can read the most illegible of writing; at University quite a few people came to me because our German professor wrote in scrawls, and they thought that I could decipher what they mean.

My usual writing the site wouldn't let me remotely link, so here's the URL...




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the prince
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2004 02:40 am
People tell me that my handwriting is beautiful - and I think I agree with them Laughing

I always write with a fountain pen or a pencil, I hate ball points - but to be honest, I seldom write - which I am slowly changing, sending handwritten letters more frequently than emails - it is just that it takes a lot of time compared to quickly banging some thing on the laptop - but the quality is much better - my thoughts always flow much better when I am writing as compared to when I am typing..

But I digress...
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2004 06:12 am
I've always loved to write and people have told me I have beautiful hand writing.
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Letty
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2004 06:46 am
Hey, Setanta. My mother had horrible handwriting and she was a teacher, but my Dad's handwriting was exactly like Thomas Jefferson's. My oldest sister's handwriting is deplorable, while my other sister's is beautiful.

My handwriting is good and I learned to print legibly in order to take notes in college and grad school. I can print almost as fast as I can write in long hand.

and you are right about a doctor's handwriting. My son's is terrible, but I understand they scrawl to keep others from forging the signature.

I do my crossword puzzles in felt tip so that I can SEE what I've done. lol.
I took typing in high school as an after thought, and I am sooooo glad that I did. That, and English, enabled me to get a job while I went to college.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2004 06:55 am
You know Miss Letty, i took typing in 1965 because i planned to attend University. The skill, however, had far more consequence in that it has provided or helped to provide me more employment than any other faculty or skill i possess.

I used to do caligraphy, and once wrote a very beautiful hand. I still receive compliments when people see me sign my name, but i am concerned that my handwriting is deteriorating.
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Letty
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2004 07:02 am
Setanta, when I write a business letter of complaint, etc. I do it in longhand or printing first. That way I can keep my skill honed.

Wow! I have always wanted to do calligraphy, but found that I didn't have the patience. It is an art!
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2004 07:34 am
In France, at least as recently as 20 years ago, applicants for a position of any worth would be required to submit a handwritten letter of application. The analysis of handwriting, from what my French friends told me, was very commonly applied to such decisions.
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Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2004 09:05 am
My handwriting is almost indecipherable. Even to me, if I've lost the train of thought. As my handwriting deteriorated, I had to do something to make it legible. I'm an editor. What's the point of editing a manuscript if no one can read what I write? I tried printing. It's laborious, and it eventually deteriorated also. Now I have my editing handwriting and my actual handwriting. I make an effort to write legibly when I'm working. But I use eraseable ink. Most of my erasures and corrections are to make what I've written legible.

When I'm writing something (not working), I must type. I can type unconsciously, so I'm able to think better when I'm typing. And it's pointless for me to write something in longhand if I can't read it.

Since I've had to use my handwriting for my work, it's not lack of use that has led to the deterioration. Part of the problem may be hurrying. We scribble when we're in a hurry. But, if our handwriting says things about us, then, as we change over time, wouldn't our handwriting change as well?

Setanta, I can't speak to your comment concerning whether handwriting has gone downhill. But I can tell you that writing skills are on a slippery slope without a toehold. I don't think that "appalled" is too strong a word for my reaction to what I see passing as writing.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2004 10:58 am
Roberta, i agree with you about the quality of writing. Were someone to suggest to me that this were an example of the evolution of language, i would not argue the point with them, but i also would not agree. At one university at which i worked, a doctoral candidate in Outdoor Education asked me to read his draft thesis. He had described a "mentoring" system he had developed, and referred to the mentor and the "mentee." I pointed out to him that there is no such verb as "to ment," and that the common noun derives from Mentor, the trusted family retainer left in charge of the education of Telemachus while Odysseus went off to Troy. This meant nothing to him, and he said his doctoral committee would not know or care. He was absolutely right, and in fact, was complimented on his description of his training program. I saw numerous examples of this decline in the quality of the use of English, often through ignorance, when i worked at the University of Illinois, as well. The formerly respected "western cannon" has fallen into disrepute, and nothing has been advanced to replace in the invaluable learning contained therein.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2004 11:19 am
I hope to learn cursive this coming year.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2004 11:48 am
Let's see, when the mentee got out of the training situation, was he or she then demented?
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2004 11:55 am
I get comments on my signature all the time - store clerks seem astounded that they can read it clearly. I guess that isn't something they can say for everyone they see.

When I write out something long my penmanship tends to drift if i'm writing in script though. Starts out fine and mangles itself near the end of the second page so I usually print which usually looks pretty clear thanks to several hundred hours of drafting time.
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