Wow – Penmanship!

I got to thinking about penmanship today. Remember that? On rainy days, we used to stay inside and practice our penmanship. Does anyone under the age of 30 even know what this is?

This was a big deal when I was growing up. We got graded on it in elementary school. Teachers in high school terrified us into believing they could see into our souls by the way we wrote.

Your penmanship told buckets about you. Were you introverted or outgoing? Were you an artist or a scientist? Were you organized or scattered? Were you humble or a show off? Did your writing slant up or down? And what did that mean? Were you angry, sad, happy, goofy?

Ah, here’s a good one–were you right-handed or left-handed?

And what of an entire industry that has probably gone by the wayside: the handwriting expert. Handwriting experts could describe personalities to a tee, or predict someone’s future, or diagnose a “criminal” for the courts. And they could spot a forger a mile away. And what about forgers? I suppose that’s a dying art as well.

There’s just not a whole lot to say about a bunch of abbreviations in a text message, except that maybe the sender is illiterate. In Italy, they say the young people don’t know how to spell correctly. They don’t know that “perché” is a whole word, for example. They think it’s “Xke” (the X is the symbol for “per” and “ke” is the phonetic sound of “ché”). There are countless other examples. Pity.

Don’t get me wrong, I love typing, especially on a great keyboard, and I’ve got speeds of up to 100 words a minute. But I still love writing in my journal or…gasp…handwriting a letter occasionally. I love the sensuousness of putting script down on paper with a beautiful pen, watching the letters form from my own hand, taking my time to think through what I’m writing (no cross-outs or deletes!), and marveling at the finished product on the page. And feeling proud of my penmanship.

Oh horrors! I look at the word penmanship itself and see that it’s way out of date in our politically correct world. If such an activity were still popular today, it would have to be called penpersonship or penhumanship, or worse yet, touchpadchallengedship.

12 responses to “Wow – Penmanship!

  1. I used to LOVE handwriting. I’ve kept journals for many years. My handwriting has always been terrible though and when I was in first grade the nun I had as a teacher always used to pull my braids because I couldn’t manage to write the number 8, and letter G. My mom then pinned them up on my head! LOL

    • Oh how funny, Sally! What I find interesting here in Italy is that people don’t write in script. It’s all capital letter printing. Do you know why this is? In the U.S., capital letters were the first phase of writing in childhood, then you moved on to script as you became a teenager and adult. Thoughts?

  2. Ah I do remember that thing called penmanship.

  3. Beautifully and brilliantly written – I would expect nothing less from my gorgeous godmother!

  4. Ah, yes, the days of good penmanship, the use of real words, the ability to write using correct spelling, and, my goodness, no use of any kind of short-hand, abbreviations….Wouldn’t that be nice?
    I was left-handed, and those were the days of all right-handed desks, a hole on the right side to place the ink bottle. My, my……

  5. I used to win prizes at school for my copy book writing, as it was called. I can still write beautifully if I try, but I am usually in a hurry and it gets a bit messy. I think it is important for children to learn to write well. It helps to develop fine motor skills, among other things.

  6. Not sure if you got my letter from Friday, as I found out my provider is on some spam list … so I send the mail to my husband few minutes ago to resend it :-).

  7. Dear Nina…better late than never for I have been saving this post to read and write about for days… I love writing by hand. In a new little online business venture of mine, we’ve started hand writing a note to each customer as we post out the goods. It feels such a lovely thing to do. I can only imagine how beautiful your own hand must be, for it would reflect the person. xx

  8. I still remember at school being told that my penmanship was beautiful and I would always have wonderful handwriting. I see the other side of this with my husbands as he was always worried about his spelling so his writing style tried to hide this. My daughter still won’t hold a pen the correct way and I’d love her to have nice handwriting. I love my journal and all the letters my Mum has sent over the years (I save them for my children) I hope this is not a dying art form xxx

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