A single sentence, uttered in the trial of George Zimmerman for the shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin, has catapulted an issue into the national spotlight.Jeantel was embarrassed, so let's all stop. Let's find everything that some people can't do and feel embarrassed about. And let's ask: Is this really necessary? Is this serving a purpose... other than to make some people feel embarrassed?
When asked if she could read a letter in court, witness Rachel Jeantel, her head bowed, murmured with embarrassment, "I don't read cursive," according to court testimony.
Jeantel is an icon not only in the fight to end education in cursive handwriting, but the fight to spare everyone embarrassment. This is the necessary extension of the struggle against bullying, a struggle to control deliberate meanness. But think of all the unintentional things that create emotional burdens for some people. There was a time when sidewalks lacked ramps for wheelchairs, not because anyone was out to make life difficult for wheelchairs, but simply because we failed to notice. Step up — wheel up — and become aware of all the needless barriers out there.
ADDED: When I learned cursive — in the late 1950s in northern Delaware — the word "cursive" was not used. We just called it "writing," "handwriting," or — I think — "manuscript" or "script." Consequently, the word "cursive" has always seemed strange to me.
I hear the ugly words "cur" and "curse," but, looking it up in the (unlinkable) OED, I see the etymology is connected to the Latin for "run" — cursīvus — and the idea is: "Written with a running hand, so that the characters are rapidly formed without raising the pen, and in consequence have their angles rounded, and separate strokes joined, and at length become slanted."
The word "cur" — meaning a low-quality dog — goes back to Middle Dutch, Swedish and Norwegian.
Middle English curre corresponds to... Norwegian (widely-spread) dialect kurre, korre ‘dog’, etc. The latter is generally associated with the onomatopoeic verb Old Norse kurra to murmur, grumble, Swedish kurra to grumble, rumble, snarl, Danish kurre to coo, German obsolete and dialect kurren to growl, grumble, murmur, coo....So hear the grrrr in "cur."
The word "curse," the OED says, has unknown origin: "Late Old English curs, of unknown origin; no word of similar form and sense is known in Germanic, Romanic, or Celtic." (Of connection with cross, which has been suggested, there is no trace.)"
Interesting to see that people have imagined that "curse" had to do with "cross," even as I imagined that "cursive" had to do with "cur" and "curse." What words have influenced your understanding of other words? Isn't that something that happened to you a lot when you were a child? Did you ever find it emotionally difficult to learn about something because you made an imaginative connection like this? Would "cursive" be easier to learn if we called it "script"?