Every so often it comes up in the news on a slow day that concerned parents are all butthurt due to schools stopping teaching cursive penmanship. Usually this is accompanied by concerned parents who are all butthurt that kids these days are texting fiends who use no grammar or spelling or punctuation or capitalization.
So it occurred today as I was writing out a check that cursive writing is just fast printing. Once you get the hang of making legible block letters one at a time, you get tired of the tedium of making them, so you start to hurry. So the first thing that happens is the letters get sloppy. You don’t always lift the pen off the paper cleanly when you finish each character, resulting in lines joining the letters, and loops where you finish one stroke and begin the next, and so on. When you do this quickly, and have an experienced hand at it, it even looks graceful, although often it’s harder to read than block print. By the time we get to writing our signature for the zillionth time, we may well have consolidated all the letters into a vague squiggle with a large first letter, and you can tell what the words are supposed to be more by their general shape than by positively identifying each letter one at a time.
This hurried script for expediency’s sake is *backwardly* taught to 3rd graders as “penmanship”. They slowly learn how to draw perfect cursive letters one at a time, then join them together to make words, and they do it all very carefully and it looks awful until they stop thinking about each stroke, and make music out of it, the way a neophyte musician learning an instrument can’t play a tune decently until they forget about the micro muscle movements that make up technique, and just play.
If kids were just taught block printing and given a writing workload heavy enough to necessitate haste, they’d discover cursive naturally, without undue pain and struggle. People these days don’t have good handwriting any more only if they don’t need to, because they hardly ever exercise the skill.
So what is txt spk? It’s a hurried way of typing, usually on a constrained input device like a 12-key pad. It’s so laborious to enter text into such an input device, that instinctively you start taking shortcuts, abbreviating words, often in creative ways, creating acronyms and so forth to save you a keystroke or five. It gets the point across effectively and efficiently in a medium where each keystroke is a pain, and sentences themselves are constrained to the length of an SMS message.
So, concerned guardians of culture who bemoan the loss of cursive and the rise of txt spk are blindly fearful of the new generation taking the same approach to communicating faster and applying it to a different medium.
That’s all it is.
I find this silly, since I’m getting close 40, and completely fluent in txt spk as well as l337, since I’ve embraced technology and use them frequently, just as I am fluent in standard English. It’s not a generational thing. It’s a matter of what medium you use, and needing to get things done quickly.
U ppl r dum.