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Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


[Gk καλλoς ‘beauty’ + γράφɛ iv ‘to write’] The art of beautiful writing. Most literate cultures have invested writing with aesthetic significance. In Europe calligraphy was cultivated as an art together with manuscript illumination, especially prior to the invention of printing with movable type. These exercises often served the purpose of normalizing and standardizing the Roman letters that had come down from antiquity. The introduction of the Caroline minuscule under Charlemagne was an attempt to unify the writing of his empire by creating a common style for the chanceries (C arolingian reform ). However, new designs of letters continued to be made from the Middle Ages until the present, and a great variety of styles developed as documented in numerous copy-books of penmanship that were published in every European country. The principal implement of penmanship was the quill, later replaced by metal pens ( figure 1 ). Balance, legibility and ornament were aspired to by ‘command of hand’. The writing masters enjoyed considerable prestige, yet in the European context penmanship always remained a craft ( figure 2 ). Its cultivation as an artistic achievement was much more pronounced in the Far East and in the Arabic-speaking world of Islam. Figure 1 Tools of penmanship: quills cut in various shapes as explained by Ludovico degli Arrighe of Rome, sixteenth century Figure 2 Strokes ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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