Happy handwriting day!

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Ok, so it isn’t a real holiday. But I still think handwriting is an important cause to promote in the age of electronics… according to the Writing Instrument Manufacturer’s Association (WIMA), which sponsors it, “National Handwriting Day is a chance for all of us to re-explore the purity and power of handwriting.” It falls on January 23, in conjunction with John Hancock’s birthday, because “Hancock was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence and is famous for his large, bold signature.”

Interestingly, Western countries are not the only ones who struggle with this issue. According to a post on The Economist‘s language blog, computers and mobile phones have made Chinese characters much easier to read and look up, but harder to write from scratch:

In Chinese culture, good handwriting was long seen as indicative of moral fibre, knowledge of characters was synonymous with learning itself, and calligraphy was a great art. Now, the Chinese can avoid the drawbacks of the writing system while reading, but in avoiding those drawbacks, they are atrophying their ability to write their language with a pen. Writing on a computer is different – type in “wo” and Windows’s Chinese support will give you the most common character (the one that means “I”) first, along with the ability to choose many other characters pronounced “wo”. The software will usually find the most appropriate character for the context.

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