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Penmanship in China wanes

Source:Global Times Published: 2012-10-24 21:50:04

Students from South-Central University for Nationalities in Wuhan, Hubei Province, recently conducted a survey of college students' abilities to write Chinese characters by hand. Of the 143 college students who participated, only 12 could write all 10 characters in the test correctly.

Students from South-Central University for Nationalities, Wuhan Textile University, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law and Wuhan Institute of Technology participated in the survey. 

Organizers selected 10 characters that are commonly written incorrectly and required students to write them by hand in a fill-in-the-blank format. It was found that only 12 were able to write all 10 missing characters correctly, and 10 percent of students incorrectly wrote 7 or 8 of the characters.

"Today, we mostly use computers to write, which only requires us to be able to recognize characters, leading us to ignore the exact shape of characters," Ding Xing, a student at South-Central University for Nationalities said. "After a few years, we may lose our ability to write without computers."

Qian Cheng, who goes to Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, described the same awkward situation. "Most assignments are completed with computers, and students often complain if teachers give handwritten assignments."

The survey also reflected that 72 percent of college students routinely spend an entire day without writing one character by hand. Furthermore, 23 percent of respondents believe that handwriting is no longer very important with the development of computers.

"It's more convenient to type characters on keyboards, and computers assist in our handwriting by adjusting character font," a student surnamed Lu from Wuhan Institute of Technology said. "What's more, currently most materials and documents require electronic submission. The only thing we really need to do well is write our own signatures."

Experts have expressed worry over the phenomenon of disappearing penmanship skills. Handwriting is a very important part of Chinese culture, and many arts, such as calligraphy, are derived from the system of writing characters.

"We can no longer afford to ignore the decline in handwriting abilities, and we must take action to prevent it," said Yu Chu, a social critic. "It will be too late to react when Chinese handwriting is totally lost."

Wuhan Evening News - changsha.cn

Posted in: Society