August 2, 2010 | Hindi
Hindi may have a lot of symbols, but at least I don't have to learn cursive.
Today I read a little more in my Beginner’s Hindi Script book, started in on Pimsleur, and also began my Rosetta Stone Hindi lessons.
This Is Teaching Me How to Write
I have to confess, my initial reaction is that Hindi is kind of hard. Quite a few of the sounds are really not at all familiar.
One thing I am grateful for, however, is the absence of a cursive style. When you handwrite in Hindi, you basically follow the printed forms as they would appear in a book.
If you have never studied a language with another alphabet or writing system, it may not immediately be apparent why a lack of cursive is a blessing, but for the foreign-language student, it really is.
In English, cursive is pretty radically different from printed letters. Think about how the two sentences below would strike you visually if you not only didn’t speak English, but also didn’t even know the Roman (i.e., our) alphabet.
Remorse, Two Renderings
There are plenty of physical similarities between the two lines, but there are many differences, too. For the uninitiated, the gap between a loop and a straight line for an l is huge. To read—and particularly to write—the second requires a bunch of additional training, whereas the first line is more or less a slightly irregular equivalent of what you would see in published print materials.
It is interesting: some people spend a lot of time bemoaning the fact that other people no longer know how to write cursive. I do not. I think I became even less likely to bemoan it after I began studying Russian last year and realized that, while I had a grasp of the print lettering, I couldn’t read or write cursive. Given my time constraints, I decided to skip Russian cursive altogether and focus on grammar, vocabulary, etc., instead. I think it was the right choice.
Cursive is in general supposed to be faster to write, I guess because all the letters flow together, but I find it extremely efficient to print in English. I also find printed lettering more beautiful, but maybe that’s just me.
Yes, it is romantic to look at old handwritten documents (the Declaration of Independence, for example), but independence would have been declared with or without cursive. And I could have learned a lot of useful stuff in third grade during all the hours that were dedicated to making my cursive legible and pretty for my future correspondence.
As it turns out, these days I almost always print my handwritten thank-you notes and letters. And most people I know just e-mail such things. So cursive is probably headed for extinction.
Civilization marches along.