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mikomasr

Material to learn cursive script

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mikomasr

Hello,

 

All the manuals I've come across that teach handwriting are based on Songti or, at beast, Kaiti font styles, but anyone who's dealt with texts handwritten by contemporary Chinese folks knows that's not how they write. When I worked in China, I could barely decipher what my Chinese colleagues would write on paper, and when I had to write for them, they would tell me how cute my handwriting is (understand: because it looks so childish and unnatural).

 

Now that I'm back home with more free time, I'd like to work on that, but I can't find any book that teaches how the Chinese *really* write in this day and age. I'm not interested in pretty, perfect calligraphy, I want to learn to write the way any Chinese adult handwrites.

 

Has anyone come across material that teaches this?

 

Thanks!

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imron

This book is what you need.  If you work your way through all the exercises in that book, you'll be able to write much more 'native'-like and as a bonus be able to understand a large amount of the handwriting that you come across.

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889

In English, you want Fred Wang's Chinese Cursive Script An Introduction to Handwriting in Chinese, which has been much discussed here. It's not just a book of samples to copy: there's a useful explanation for it all.

 

https://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780887100338

 

If you can, get an older copy, which is printed better than the newer ones Yale is putting out.

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imron
1 hour ago, 889 said:

It's not just a book of samples to copy: there's a useful explanation for it all.

Just for clarification, the same is true of the book I linked to also - though you need to be ok with reading Chinese.

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StChris
On 12/3/2019 at 4:32 AM, imron said:

This book is what you need.  If you work your way through all the exercises in that book, you'll be able to write much more 'native'-like and as a bonus be able to understand a large amount of the handwriting that you come across.

 

When in your Chinese learning journey did you work through this book? I showed it to my teacher and a tutor today, and they both discouraged me from buying it. They say that Chinese students only really start studying this once they reach high school and that I should just continue to concentrate on writing the characters as neatly as possible for the time being. I think most of us here know that sometimes Chinese teachers instinctively recommend methods that Chinese students use, which may not necessarily be the best way for foreign learners of Chinese. My teacher says I should be able to pass the HSK 6 exam fairly comfortably, so I personally feel that I'm at a level where I should start to learn cursive script (both how to write and also how to decipher that written by Chinese people).

 

 

Here are a couple of examples from essays I wrote recently. I think my writing looks pretty childish, plus it generally takes much longer than I would like:

 

949811345_IMG_20191204_2037296771.thumb.jpg.71c124c9efe0aff3ff3c43af1fb1fd06.jpg994916475_IMG_20191204_2038277311.thumb.jpg.d6a79b3326ec515eab054e1f4886665c.jpg

 

Imron, is that book the kind that would be possible to study in 20 minute bursts every day?

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Tomsima


I believe your teachers advice is fair based on your current writing style. It looks like you're trying to write quickly, but arent sure of exact lengths of strokes for good internal proportions of each character as soon as the speed goes up (a little like how tones can lose their accuracy as speech speed increases). Get your kaishu down, then learning how to break the rules will be a lot easier; if you start now, it will make your kaishu messier.

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Phil Tsien

Don't try the book now. You may use it when your handwriting is better, but not now. 

2 hours ago, StChris said:

They say that Chinese students only really start studying this once they reach high school

Why we start using 连笔字 since high school is that, if you don't change you way of writing to a faster one, it would be hard to finish a written essay. About 40 minute for an 800-character essay is not that easy, considering that you must conceive the idea of your writing within the 40 minutes. 

And actually, we Chinese don't have specific "courses" to learn how to write 连笔. We just abbreviate the strokes with our sense of the character. there are laws of abbreviation. And if you cannot understand you colleagues' handwriting, you can read the words twice (with a 楷体 copy) and try to figure out the why the strokes are abbreviated like this. 

And about your handwriting, keep practicing 楷体, that's the only way to good Chinese handwriting. Even the masters of Chinese Calligraphy started with 楷体. And when you colleagues told you that your handwriting is not childish and somehow like a native Chinese, then congratulations! You can start the journey to 连笔字 then. 

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imron
15 hours ago, StChris said:

When in your Chinese learning journey did you work through this book?

I forget, but I was at an advanced level.  My handwriting looked a lot like yours does now - and probably still looks much like that, though I haven't written anything by hand in ages.

 

15 hours ago, StChris said:

they both discouraged me from buying it. They say that Chinese students only really start studying this once they reach high school

Every single Chinese person I talked to about it tried to discourage me from learning 五笔 - I still did it, and it was still helpful.

 

15 hours ago, StChris said:

I should just continue to concentrate on writing the characters as neatly as possible for the time being

If you are planning on taking the HSK this is probably true - I don't know how well they'll take to cursive characters in the HSK and you might lose marks for it.

 

15 hours ago, StChris said:

Imron, is that book the kind that would be possible to study in 20 minute bursts every day?

Yes.

 

15 hours ago, StChris said:

sometimes Chinese teachers instinctively recommend methods that Chinese students use, which may not necessarily be the best way for foreign learners of Chinese.

You need to have a think about the primary motivation for wanting to use this book, and how well you want to develop your handwriting.

 

If your focus is primarily on improving your handwriting, then as Tomsima say, you may benefit first from getting the proportions of characters down.  If handwriting is not really something you're looking to develop or use, and you are mainly interested in being able to read other people's handwriting, then there's no harm in doing this now.

 

My motivation was the latter, and although I went through the book, I don't really use cursive when I write (because I don't really write except on computer and mobile phone).  It was still a major help in learning to read handwriting.

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mungouk

Is there not even a "cheater's guide" to reading handwriting that can give clues to those of us who don't intend to learn how to write it?

I rarely even write long-hand in my first language these days. But being able to read hand-written notes in Chinese from time to time would be very useful.

 

Especially since Pleco's OCR can't deal with them.  (Yet...)

 

 

 

 

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mungouk
2 minutes ago, 889 said:

Fred Wang's book works fine for that.

 

So, that was 1958?  

How does modern cursive script relate to traditional vs simplified?  

 

From what I understand from Wikipedia (when I could still access it, VPN... hmm, not today) some of the simplification came from common practice of the cursive script, in terms of making hanzi faster to write... is that correct?

Didn't anything change since 1958?

 

 

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889

Of course a text in simplified characters would be more up-to-date, but like DeFrancis's texts, for learning purposes these old books are still very useful.

 

(I was going to post a couple of pages from my copy, but having the book does not equate to being able to find the book.)

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Tomsima
5 hours ago, mungouk said:

Didn't anything change since 1958?

I mean weve been using kaishu as the standard consistently since the Tang dynasty, so change is pretty slow. Actually handwritten styles have remained pretty consistent through the transition to simplified, perhaps because many of the simplified characters are actually based on vernacular written forms already. That being said there are a handful of characters that are written differently in a cursive form based on the new simplified character. Usually these are pretty simple too, for example, 難 has its own cursive form, but the left half is now written with the 又 of 难 despite this, as it is even quicker.

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