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Learning to read handwriting


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randall, I'm not sure what you've done wrong, but see the attached image for what it should look like.

So, 2 questions. Firstly, are you sure you selected the correct font? and secondly, did you just unpack the font file to the font folder, or did you actually install the font through control panel?


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Imron, thanks again for your help.

To answer your questions: yes, I did select the right font and yes, I did install it properly (not just unpack it). I mean, it also shows up in MS Word, so I guess it really is there. The only difference is that my MS Word cannot display the proper name of the font, because it's Chinese characters. All it does is give me ??????? -- a lot of question marks. However, when I select this font and start typing away, all I get is standard Chinese that seems to vary in size. Weird, eh? Well anyway, it was just a little gimmick anyway. Would have been nice, but I guess I can live without it.

As for signese.com … I’ve been there tons of times. Thanks! Great page, by the way.

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If you do a search in the image section of Google or Baidu for something like 草书, 行书, or 楷书, you will find many writing samples.


I also found this useful calligraphy site with many example of pen (as opposed to brush) calligraphy (硬笔书法). However, it seems that almost all calligraphy is done in the traditional script.



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thanks, I just got the book you recommended "Chinese

Cursive Script: An Introduction to Handwriting in

Chinese", that is. I just flipped through the pages

last night and it seems to be exactly what I was

looking for. Hope I'll find some time in the near

future and can work my way through it.

BTW, this is like the 4th time I've listened to

recommendations made on this forum. And if it proves

to be half as successful as the others, its more than worth it. (the others were: plecodict, Zhongguo Shi

Lihun, and Outrageous Chinese).

Thanks, chinese-forums! This place is truely amazing.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

I always feel akward when I am not able to recognize hand-written characters, even when these happen to be some of the few I know. It takes ages to learn the proper way of writing them and you end up not being able to read a "bye-bye note". Does is just come with more practice? Should you learn certain rules for handwriting? Or develop your own style? In the age when hardly anything is written by hand, is it really worth the effort? Thanks for your opinions.

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It's a long process to recognize hand-writing characters even if for native students. Besides, some people's hand-writings don't deserve compliment. It's too scratchy to identify.

So don't be depressed.Practise more, even more.

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Much like with English cursive handwriting, there are set rules and styles for handwritten Chinese. I am no expert writer myself but I do know that there are at least two different "standard" styles of handwriting used on the mainland, which does complicate things for the non-native writer. Maybe a good approach would be to focus on how the radicals and frequently-used characters are written using these rules/styles. I've observed that even native writers have trouble once in a while reading each others writing, so there's no reason to feel bad about this. Some people are just messy writers!

I do feel that it would be useful to be able to read handwritten Chinese if you plan to stay here for a somewhat permanent length of time. If you live like a local you'll find that there are times when important things are still written by hand on paper (for example, receipts for deposits, rent, etc.). As for me, my good friends always make fun of me for writing like a primary student. :oops: Even if you decide not to spend a lot of time on this, you should at least learn to write/sign your Chinese name "like an adult". :)

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  • 3 months later...

I've just done a quick survey of the topics on Chinese handwriting, and it seems like the book mentioned above is pretty good. However, any particular recommendations on books available in China? I just want to be able to write quicker than my current 一笔一划 efforts, but if I start trying to figure out how to do that myself I'm just going to reach ever higher peaks of illegibility.

Doesn't matter if it's designed for foreigners or not - something written for five-year-olds with poor hand-eye coordination would probably hit the mark.

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快写法基础训练 by 钱沛云 is not bad I think. His 行书 dictionary is also fine, but less 'cursive' than the first one.

There are hundreds of books on 钢笔书法, you should probably find one that fullfills the following criteria:

(1) you actually *like* the person's handwriting (subjective factor)

2) Has the right level of 'cursiveness' (you wouldn't learn 狂草 to write a shopping list)

3) It's sufficiently practical (you'd want to learn some frequently used characters first rather than some variant only found on Tang dynasty's 碑帖)

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  • 2 months later...

I bought this book


the idea was that I'd use it to help me write so that Chinese people don't look at my writing, laugh, and say it looks like a child wrote it. However, I think it's going to get more use in simply recognising cursive script in others' writings rather than changing my own.

It doesn't really matter. Give it 5 years and everyone will forget how to write anyway; they'll only know pinyin from spending hours every day on QQ, MSN and writing emails.

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It doesn't really matter. Give it 5 years and everyone will forget how to write anyway; they'll only know pinyin from spending hours every day on QQ, MSN and writing emails.

I disagree. There are many many many native Chinese who do not use pinyin at all.

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That's like saying that no one will ever write in any language again it will all be done by computers. Just simply won't happen. However if you say that for learners of a second language the could never learn how to write because of the convenience of technology I would agree with you that that is a plausible option.

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