Write in longhand

sibu

Senior Member
I know that the expression "to write in longhand" means using ordinary handwriting (as opposed to shorthand, typing, or printing). Is it a little dated? I have come across examples like this:

"J.K. Rowling writes her books in longhand."

Would it be odd/old-fashioned, however, to use this expression in the school context, for example, in a sentence like this:

"Please hand in your essays in longhand."

Would it be more appropriate to use "handwritten", "written by hand" and the like?

Thank you for your help!
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I will refrain from general comments, although I personally would not use 'in longhand'. However, I find your sentence strange. If anything, it sounds as though 'in longhand' describes the manner in which the essays must be handed in :D , as opposed to the manner in which they must be written.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would imagine that the relevant distinction today would be 'handwritten' versus 'typed'. I don't suppose if you specify 'handwritten' that anyone will be left wondering what brand of 'hand written' you might be alluding to.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    When you consider the word "longhand" in isolation, it does seem dated but, when used, it comes naturally and sounds natural; probably because there is no real alternative.
     

    sibu

    Senior Member
    When you consider the word "longhand" in isolation, it does seem dated but, when used, it comes naturally and sounds natural; probably because there is no real alternative.
    Isn't there? Let's be concrete: Imagine you are a teacher standing in front of a class of 13-year-olds: would you ask them to please hand in their essays in longhand / handwritten / written by hand?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Your alternatives are not equivalents.

    longhand = in cursive script
    handwritten / written by hand = not printed from a computer (or similarly mechanically produced.)

    Cursive script is not a "real" alternative as it is far too formal for most everyday uses.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It wouldn't occur to me to use "longhand", a word I haven't come across for many years. I would be a bit puzzled if someone used it to me instead of "handwritten, not typed".

    I am puzzled anyway by your saying " most of students' writing (= note-taking) is still in cursive script". Do you mean handwritten rather than on an i-Pad or similar device?

    Hermione
     

    sibu

    Senior Member
    It wouldn't occur to me to use "longhand", a word I haven't come across for many years. I would be a bit puzzled if someone used it to me instead of "handwritten, not typed".

    I am puzzled anyway by your saying " most of students' writing (= note-taking) is still in cursive script". Do you mean handwritten rather than on an i-Pad or similar device?

    Hermione
    Yes, I do. After doing a bit of research on the Internet, it seems to me that the expression is only used in the context of writing literature, see link below:
    http://www.patrickemclean.com/2009/01/a-defense-of-writing-longhand-2/

    Another example can be found here:
    http://januarymagazine.com/profiles/jkrowling.html
    "Not able to afford even a used typewriter -- let alone a computer -- Rowling wrote the earliest drafts of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in longhand."
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    It wouldn't occur to me to use "longhand", a word I haven't come across for many years. I would be a bit puzzled if someone used it to me instead of "handwritten, not typed".
    Hermione
    Doesn't longhand go to the style of writing, i.e. joined-up; cursive, whilst handwritten simply means "not mechanically produced" and may include a series of individual letters to create the word?

    Hmmm... to answer my own question - or not:

    OED Longhand: "Handwriting of the ordinary character (in which words are written in full), as distinguished from shorthand."


    Merriam Webster:
    handwriting: as
    a : characters or words written out fully by hand
    b : cursive writing

    I'm with the Americans...
     
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