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Learning to read handwriting


roddy
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I know this is a bit of a long shot, but does anyone know of any resources for learning to read handwriting? Not calligraphy or anything, just everyday quick scribbles – I quite often have to deal with handwritten notes at work, and it’s close to impossible to decipher them. Are there any rules on how the characters are simplified / changed?

Roddy

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The rules are faint if there are any. Most people I know acquired their handwriting styles through emulating how others write. 钢笔字帖s are an excellent source for learning different handwriting styles. There are different styles by different authors, just pick up a few 钢笔字帖s at your nearest bookstore or library. Actually, that was exactly how my middle school teacher trained us. She would ask each of us to look for a style that we liked from these 字帖, and we would spend 15 minutes a day emulating that style. She would then check on our progress every so often. Since you are only trying to learn to read handwriting, it should be much easier.

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A book that should precisely fit the bill is CHINESE CURSIVE SCRIPT: An Introcution to Handwriting in Chinese, by Fang-Yv Wang. The only complaint I have about the book is that I got about halfway through and occasionally could not decipher a character here and there. Since there was no transcription of the handwriting specimens, there was no way to figure out the occasional puzzle.

The book provides a nice balance between giving general rules, explaining how various Kaishu character elements are normally transformed, and listing new character forms. The forms it shows are not hypothetical or oriented toward calligraphy, but rather towards how people actually write, including a fair number of variations for many characters and character elements.

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Increase empathy by writing Chinese characters carelessly and quickly. It might be a better way to read the scribbles. Or how about guess (depends on how many Chinese articles you read)? Anyway, take it easy, I still can’t understand many characters in my leader’s handwritten instructions, so 他对我的口头禅就成了”我对此深表遗憾…” 他竟然还写“余不一一”,这又不是在写情书?!

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 year later...

I know that in our day and age most of the Chinese script I will encounter will probably be typed. However, I feel that I want to be able to read handwritten documents as well, and at a reasonable speed as well. Of course, I am not even going to try Caoshu, yet being able to decipher what the average Chinese writes would be awesome. All I would need for this purpose would be an abundance of handwritten documents, which I have not. So my question to you is: Do you know of any websites that have tons and tons of pictures of handwritten files, pdf of whatever format? Oh, yeah, I am looking for simplified characters.

Thanks,

Randall

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I don't know of any websites with documents full of Chinese handwriting, but there's nothing stopping you from creating your own.

Just download this font, and then convert any document you like into Chinese handwriting :) It's a little clearer than most handwriting would be, but it's a good place to start. Also, don't be put off by the sample image they show on the page. The font looks much better in real life.

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Rar files are like zip files, only they use a different form of compression. You can uncompress them using a tool like WinRAR. Once you've done that, you should have a TrueType font file (.ttf). Now go to the control panel and open up the Fonts applet and choose File->Install New Font. Browse to the directory where you uncompressed the font and select the font. Make sure the "copy font to the fonts directory" check-box is checked and click ok. This will install your font and make it available to all windows applications.

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Speaking of fonts for learning handwriting, 方正黄草 is very nice. Maybe a bit too 草, but still readable. Its author developed it as an attempt to standardize 草书.

You can see a small sample at http://www.baibox.com/font/Catalog86/5939.html, "方正黄草简体". If the link doesn't work try Baidu.

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Man, am I computeristically-challenged or what? I unpacked the file to my the right folder (the Windows folder that has all the fonts in it), started Microsoft Word and then used the fond. However, it doesn’t look anything like running scrip, it’s just SimSun, except for that the characters are bigger and smaller. Bummer!

Imron, I did just what you suggested, but it’s not working out for me. Too bad, maybe it’s not meant to be?

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