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  • Writer's pictureOlga Jarrell

Hello, Russian Cursive!

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

When American students take their first Russian course, it is hard for many of them to accept the fact that they have to write in cursive all the time. Sometimes they find the ways to cheat and don’t bother writing in cursive if it’s not for a graded assignment. Also, they try to find different explanations why they should not write in cursive. For example, they often say that they are not very good at English cursive, and that is why it is impossible for them to write in cursive Russian. This is quite understandable because practicing Russian cursive takes patience and time, and it could sometimes drive you crazy and even make you cry. However, if you are serious about learning the Russian language, you should accept Russian cursive as part of your learning.

So, what is Russian cursive, and why is it so important to learn it?

According to Wikipedia, Russian cursive is the handwritten form of the modern Russian Cyrillic script, which is used instead of the block letters of printed material. Russian cursive was developed in the 18th century on the base of earlier Cyrillic tachygraphy and reshaped under the influence of contemporary Latin-based cursives.
Unlike English cursive, Russian cursive system is not considered a formal style of writing. In fact, it a standard practice for Russians to write in cursive almost exclusively. Most handwritten Russian, especially personal letters and schoolwork, uses the cursive alphabet.
In Russian schools, most children are taught cursive handwriting in the first grade. They complete a lot of practice sheets to master their handwriting. Here is one of them.

The results that schoolchildren try to achieve look like this.

This phrase contains all letters of the Russian alphabet, and it is similar to the English sentence THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG. Great phrase for practice, isn't it?
Anyway, when kids grow up, they develop their own handwriting style, and their cursive letters no longer have perfect curves and connecting lines. Some Russians, by the way, end up having terrible handwriting, almost impossible to decipher. For example, Russian medical doctors are notorious for having the worst handwriting ever.
Nowadays, some young people don't follow the rules they learned in grade school, and choose not to connect some letters. However, they almost never use block letters.
Perfect handwriting could be seen mostly among people of older generation while younger people don't use cursive much due to the digital age.
I hope you have an idea that Russian cursive is not easy for either Russians or foreigners who study Russian. However, my dear students, I have some good news for you. Most students, who take the first semester of Russian, become really good at Russian cursive after just the first month of practice. If Russian kids in the grade school can do it, you can! With this positive thought in mind, please keep calm and practice cursive Russian. Good luck!

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