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Losing Track

Posted by Dirck on 28 October, 2013

Here’s a distressing little item of news from the world at large: people forgetting how to write because they’re using electronics too much!

Alarming prospect, eh?  I will take comfort in the fact that the news item comes from China.  I say this not because it suggests the Chinese colossus that’s currently turning coal into cheap consumer goods and unbreathable air (a trick learned, indirectly, from England) is about to stumble in its headlong career towards owning everything (again, England, and much good did it do them).  I rather suspect there’s not a lot of connection between literacy on the part of the broader population and world domination.

Rather, I take comfort in the idea that even if this is a widespread phenomenon in China, something which the single datum revealed in that article doesn’t really indicate, the writing being interfered with is Chinese writing, and it’s all too possible to see losing track of the diverse shapes and processes it contains.  Remember that English and its vast, swollen vocabulary manages to stumble along with only the twenty-six letters of the Latin alphabet, with occasional additional characters & numbers for a small % of words we’re 2 lazy to write out.

Chinese writing, on the other hand, being ideogrammatic, has rather a lot of characters to keep track of.  Even more daunting, and I suspect underlying the story, there is some concern over the order of the stroke that go into the production of those characters– as many as seventeen of them.  Korean writing looks as it does because one Korean king got very tired of waiting not only for his scribes to work out how to write down his edicts, but for them to get trained up the to point that they could write them down.  And for doing so, he got semi-deified, because Koreans had a good sense of how very flippin’ hard it is to really get Chinese characters under one’s hat.

This guy.

This guy.  I stood a little to the right of this camera position when I took my picture of him in 1995, and it was raining, so I’ll use this picture.

So while I feel badly for the person who reports losing writing to the electronic media, it seems an understandable loss of a skill– something so fraught with inherent difficulty surely needs to be practiced regularly lest it slip from one’s grasp.  I’m not in great fear of it becoming a widespread phenomenon.  I’m only in small, manageable fear of it.  Time for another session of Pen Wrangling With Daddy for my son.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

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