Monday, November 03, 2008

The Normativity of Handwriting

So, the bigger of the short people is learning cursive and has that chart we've all seen countless times displaying the right way to write the letters. But is there a right way to write? Sure, we all have our own handwriting, but on what basis should we judge handwriting? It does seem a bit strange to say, "This is the right way" when I make mine differently and don't feel as if I'm not actually writing, say, a capital G or writing it wrong.

There seems to be three options:

(1) Handwriting Platonism: these folks see the chart as positing the Form of cursive, that is, that perfect, unchanging nature of cursive handwriting and each person's own script partakes of the Form, but is an imperfect representation. Better handwriting is handwriting that is more like the ideal.

(2) Handwriting Subjectivism: there is no such thing as right and wrong, there is simply the way each of us writes. Better or worse is just I like it better or I don't, or it is functionally more useful, easier to read or not. It is your handwriting, write as you will, who is to tell you how to make a lower case q.

(3) Handwriting Pluralism: A middle path in which there are multiple ways to acceptably right a cursive S, but not all ways are allowable. There is a range that you need to fall in, but outside that range is unacceptable.

So, which one is right or have I missed the real answer?