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Sending Letters Overseas, Cursive Or Print?



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lately because of Incrowrimo I have been trying to send some letters to people outside the US and write people from other countries and cultures.

 

I ran into a little internal struggle though on what I should do in regards to using Cursive or Print when I write someone in a country that English may not be their first language. In my mind I think maybe it would be better to write in regular print to make it as easy as possible for someone not fluent in English to understand. I obviously love writing in cursive but I do not want to make it hard for anyone to read my letter.

 

 

Have you ever thought about this before? What do you do when sending letters to countries where English may not be the primary language?

 

Appreciate any feedback or suggestions.

Edited by gamingoodz
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I'd say it would depend on the quality of your cursive writing. i know that I have trouble reading my own most of the time, so I certainly wouldn't use it to write to a non-English speaker who might have trouble understanding me in the first place.

 

But some people write beautifully and clearly, and such a script might be appropriate for this use.

 

You'll have to decide which category your handwriting fits into.

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I just don't know how well someone that knows limited English would be able to read cursive no matter how good it was. I imagine they would learn to read print and not cursive when learning English.

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.

Nathaniel Branden

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I just don't know how well someone that knows limited English would be able to read cursive no matter how good it was. I imagine they would learn to read print and not cursive when learning English.

 

Just like another English-speaker, it will depend on whether or not they learned cursive writing. When I studied Russian, I learned both print and cursive writing. You could always write the first letter in print and ask whether it's OK to write in cursive, or just write in cursive and include an offer (printed) to translate, if needed.

 

Also, I agree that it depends in part on the quality of your handwriting - if you do lots of weird personalizations, a non-native speaker will have more trouble deciphering the characters than a native speaker.

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I typically just write normal. Normal for me when writing letters is cursive - most of the time. Although there may be a mix of cursive and print in any given letter. It's less of a hybrid than it used to be, but some letters get written as print letters.

Brad

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling
"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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I obviously love writing in cursive but I do not want to make it hard for anyone to read my letter.

 

Have you ever thought about this before? What do you do when sending letters to countries where English may not be the primary language?

 

Appreciate any feedback or suggestions.

Firstly, take away the emotive context, since in your own words it involves something you 'love' doing.

 

Many years ago, the General Manager of the company I was working for pulled me up, about a 30-page project proposal (for a piece of commissioned work, to be approved by the external customer, to the tune of US$250,000) of which I thought I did a marvellous job, and went into every detail (having considered everything at length, as the project manager). He said to me, "You need to know your audience. Eugene doesn't want to read thirty dense pages of jargon and detail. We want to convince him to agree to spend the money, on a piece of work he already let us know he wants done."

 

A four-page project summary sealed the deal.

 

So, ask yourself, are you writing the letter for yourself (to meet your personal 'commitment' to Incrowrimo), or for the benefit of the recipient, or some other purpose? If there are multiple goals in play, how high does your love for cursive writing rank among them?

 

That's how I'd look at it.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Chiming in as a non-ENL.

 

Cursive is still the standard script taught in many countries outside of North America, so there's a good chance that your correspondents actually are "cursive natives". It's actually the light version of a script called Kurrent, which is now only taught to historians and librarians for research purposes - now, that is hard to read, believe me!

Even though not many people (I'm speaking for Central Europe here) actually still use cursive anymore, we've been exposed to it often enough. In any case, it isn't as hard to read as people make it out to be.

 

 

Dominique

Snail Mail


(fluent in SK, CZ, DE, EN


currently learning EO, JP, NL)

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Just take note that capital letters in American cursive (I use this term generically, because I only know this script from Gary Larson comics and posts on this board) have very strange and alien shapes in the eyes of people who have learned cursive in my part of the world. Otherwise go ahead. I cannot speak for countries where non-western script is the norm though.

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I've gone back and forth on this as well, having been writing letters since childhood. In all that time I've actually not corresponded with anyone who could not read cursive/script writing. Many people actually have commented that they really enjoy it. Having said that though, if the person I'm writing to isn't a native English speaker, I do take a bit more time over my handwriting. And I do try to ask about future letters if there is a way of writing that my pen friend prefers : )

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There is a thread in this forum "which handwriting did you learn in school" where a lot of templates can be seen.

Judging from that I am confident that I could read any handwriting from anyone who learnt to write in Europe (if it's not Kyrillic).

These templates are quite compatible with another and do not differ too much.

 

The "American way fo writing" is a bit more special, but not that much.

Back in school (loong ago...) there were photos of handwritten texts in our books to give us an idea of how Americans write.

I could read them without much problems, but some of the capitals were a bit tricky (the I most prominently).

Luckily, there are not that many capital letters in English texts... ;)

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I think I'd do a mix of both and ask the recipient which (if either) they find easier to comprehend?

Which do you use to address the envelope? This may give a clue, as it must be easily read and understood by quite a few people, before it reaches its destination.

 

After decades of using block letters in my writing, I have finally started to return to cursive. Most people haven't noticed (if I leave them a note, etc.) but, if I want it to be immediately legible, I'll use the block letters, rather than the cursive.

That's just me, your mileage may vary, of course.

 

Enjoy.

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I am also one for arguing legibility matters more than if it is either cursive or print. I agree that most "school taught" type cursive is not difficult to read even if one hasn't been significantly exposed to it, but becomes more difficult when it is written poorly. Same could be said for print though...so I would be on the side of legibility matters the most over whatever hand you chose to write in....

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KateGladstone

In some European countries (such as Finland and Iceland), the standard school script has been italic since sometime in the 1980s.

 

Even in many English-speaking countries (such as Australia), whats taught as cursive is either a form of italic or is about halfway between italic & conventional USA-style cursive.

 

And in most countries where a 100%-joined cursive is still taught, its been 50-100 years since theyve taught or used the particular kinds of capitals that North Americans learn for cursive: a conventional North American cursive G (for instance) is very unlike anything seennin countries where this cursive capital is written as an enlarged lower-case form. (A conventional North American cursive Z is likely to be another such mystery, if your correspondent lives in France or Spain or Italy, where the cursive Z that is most usually taught is almost identical to some varieties. of conventional North American cursive L.)

For what its worth, Find that people from any country where our alphabet is used can easily read what is written in italic.

 

 

Chiming in as a non-ENL.

 

Cursive is still the standard script taught in many countries outside of North America, so there's a good chance that your correspondents actually are "cursive natives". It's actually the light version of a script called Kurrent, which is now only taught to historians and librarians for research purposes - now, that is hard to read, believe me!

Even though not many people (I'm speaking for Central Europe here) actually still use cursive anymore, we've been exposed to it often enough. In any case, it isn't as hard to read as people make it out to be.

 

 

 

Dominique

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In the UK, cursive simply means joined-up writing. It can be any style, so joined-up writing isn't necessarily going to be a problem. In US English, I understand cursive means a particular style. I think some of the letterforms - particularly lowercase "r" - deviate from the typical letterforms that people recognise from typefaces (books, magazines, shop signs, computers, mobile phones), so readability could be a problem.

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In the UK, cursive simply means joined-up writing. It can be any style, so joined-up writing isn't necessarily going to be a problem. In US English,

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word cursive has the same meaning.

 

... I understand cursive means a particular style.

American Cursive is the name of a particular hand (or family of hands), but I don't think the Americans redefined the word cursive or narrowed its scope.

 

...

 

This reminds me of the time when my ex-wife – who lived all her life until then in the USA – was flabbergasted that she couldn't find "American cheese" in the supermarkets here. Somehow she thought it was a formal classification/type of cheese, and as recognisable as Swiss cheese in the vast English-speaking world. After I got over my fits of laughter, I told her to go ask the attendant at the Delicatessen section for "American cheese", and see if he knows what she was talking about.

 

Fortunately, the word cheese wasn't redefined in US English either.

Edited by A Smug Dill

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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You have to know if in the country that you are sending the letters used a Latin alphabet or another type. People that use Latin alphabet can recognise the letters written in scrip easier that if the use a Thai or Cambodian alphabets.

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...American Cursive is the name of a particular hand (or family of hands), but I don't think the Americans redefined the word cursive or narrowed its scope...

 

 

For what it's worth, when I first learned it in Illinois in the 1960s, I remember that we called it longhand rather than cursive. That's so long ago that I don't completely trust my memory, and certainly I learned the term cursive later, but that's how I recall it.

 

Although I have always understood it to be a general term, like the British "joined up writing", there probably have been standard styles in American schools at any given time. What we learned was probably Palmer method or some variant.

 

On the original question, maybe if I failed to get responses from enough of the people I wrote to, then it would be a sign that I needed to print. But I would write longhand until that happened. :)

Edited by ISW_Kaputnik

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BaronWulfraed

This reminds me of the time when my ex-wife – who lived all her life until then in the USA – was flabbergasted that she couldn't find "American cheese" in the supermarkets here. Somehow she thought it was a formal classification/type of cheese, and as recognisable as Swiss cheese in the vast English-speaking world. After I got over my fits of laughter, I told her to go ask the attendant at the Delicatessen section for "American cheese", and see if he knows what she was talking about.

 

 

To my experience -- "American" cheese is a name Kraft uses for a form of pasteurized process cheddar sold in pre-cut slices (and these days, most often individually wrapped). It is the common cheese used for grilled cheese sandwiches and cheeseburgers. Real cheddars being too crumbly to melt properly.

 

Actually, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_cheese indicates that "American" cheese is a blend -- cheddar, colby, jack -- maybe others -- in various ratios.

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