Escritura y Diferencias

September is a special month to me. It’s the month I started this blog last year, and though my husband and I met each other at the end of August all those years ago, September is when we became novios. And so today has me thinking about the early days, when we were new to each other, and I was still discovering all the little things about him that endeared him to me…

I first noticed my husband’s escritura, (handwriting) within minutes of meeting him. He gave me his name and phone number, and instead of the chicken-scratch I was used to seeing from American boys, I held in my hands something not only completely readable, but strangely intriguing.

Yes, after all these years, I still have it.

As novios, I looked forward to his love letters, not just for the words themselves, but the way in which they had been written – the form of each individual letter. Everything about him reminded me of how different we were, from our inability to communicate at times, (I read his love letters with an English-Spanish dictionary by my side), to something as simple as the way we write the letter “e”.

They say “love is blind”, and while I agree with the sentiment, it isn’t literally true. We saw our differences, and were fascinated by them.

Many handwriting experts claim you can’t tell a person’s ethnicity or nationality by their handwriting, but again, I say this isn’t true. (Link is to a PDF titled: “Spanish Handwriting And Spelling” – a document meant for non-native Spanish speakers deciphering Spanish documents to extract information. The fact that such a document exists proves that there are differences!)

Maybe it isn’t fool proof, but I’m able to pick out the handwriting of native born Salvadorans from that of U.S. born Americans. While I haven’t seen handwriting samples from all Latin American countries, everybody in my husband’s family – his mother, his sister, his brother, his cousins and uncles – even completely unrelated Salvadorans I’ve met, all have similarities in their handwriting. I can’t tell you if it’s a uniquely Salvadoran handwriting or a Spanish-speaking/Latin American way of writing, but it is different – and noticing a difference is not a bad thing.

In this politically correct world we’re admonished to look for the similarities, but I say go ahead and look for the differences, and celebrate them, because they’re beautiful.


  1. My kids started their school life in an international school. (Really a French school.) All the French kids are taught cursive young and nearly all of them write it well. It is a definitive cultural difference.

    • @ Expressmom – I would love to see samples from around the world. I had pen pals growing up and two were from Ghana, (Africa). They both had a similar style – which was very different from American handwriting.

  2. How fascinating! I’ve noticed when I go out to eat that a lot of restaurants where young people work write out their specials boards in print letters, as opposed to cursive. I believe this is because that generation has lost the ability to write in cursive. Incidentally, did you know that the richest man in the world is named Carlos? It’s Carlos Slim of Mexico.

    The Codger

    • @ TheCodger – The “specials” sign board at restaurants is always fun to look at! Very interesting (and plausible) theory as to why it’s usually in print instead of cursive.

      Thanks for the random trivia, too :)

  3. I noticed the same thing when reading notes from my Peruvian adviser in college. Her handwriting was definitely different, and it was really quite pretty.

    • @ Crystal – I think that you can probably make an educated guess and get it right most of the time regarding whether the writer is female or male. Not sure about sexual preference. I had a gay boyfriend in high school, (yeah, boyfriend – don’t ask how that happened) – anyway, his handwriting was really awful. Few people could even read it. And there was another guy who is still a good friend of mine who is gay, (though he wasn’t out back in school), and everyone has always admired his very unique, artistic handwriting.

      Anyhow – Handwriting analysis is definitely super interesting!

  4. Well, let me tell you, in El Salvador we had (as part of our curriculum) a class called CALIGRAFIA (if I remember correctly from 1st to 3/4rd grade). The ONLY thing we did was practice/improve our handwriting. We used “El Método Palmer”. And yes, I have seen absolutely beautiful cursive hand writing in ES, so beautiful that I hired this lady to do all my wedding invitations.
    My son’s hand witting is terrible, so I have decided to give him PLANAS, I hope they help!

    • @ Claudia – My older son’s handwriting is not that great either, but compared to some U.S. born/raised boys, it’s better than I had hoped. My younger son is in 3rd grade this year and so far they haven’t even learned a single letter in cursive. His print is very neat when he takes his time… I don’t know if I should torture my kids by making them practice handwriting, (or even better, having my husband teach them Salvadoran-style since mine isn’t that great.) … I imagine it’s probably too late and their teachers won’t appreciate them not forming the letters “correctly”.

      I’m going to look into “El Método Palmer” though. Thanks for the info.

  5. I find good handwriting a sign of someone’s diligence, although, some people are lucky and never needed practice – they were just born with the ability to develop good handwriting. In either case, I think good handwriting is sexy; as well as good cursive. Personally, I still need work on my cursive – but I have very little need to use it in today’s modern tech lifestyle. Very unfortunate.

    I think it’s sweet you kept the very first thing he wrote and gave to you! Congratulations on your anniversary. One year is quite the milestone!

  6. How I’m envious. Left handed was a difficulty, then at age eleven I decided to change to right handed. This did not make my handwriting anymore beautiful. Luckily word processors and computers came along.
    If I could write like Carlos. Ojala que puedo escribir como Carlo.

  7. I’m Puerto Rican, and I’ve never seen the letter “e” written like that (first a “c” with a slash through it). Very interesting. :) Nice blog.

  8. Wow, very interesting!
    And now that I think about it, while living in Spain I noticed how everybody wrote certain letters and numbers the same way!! I can straight out tell when someone is from Spain just by looking at the handwriting!
    And when I moved here, I noticed they don’t really teach kids handwriting. I had a cursive writing class from the first grade all the way to sixth back in Mexico.
    Mi querida Sra. López, I’m intrigued now and will probably spend the rest of day looking into this lol

  9. Que suave! This blog touched an old soft spot in my heart. I too met my Latino husband (many years ago) and we corresponded by cartas while I learned Spanish by translating his palabras.

    In one letter he wrote, “quiero en el futuro que seas mi esposa” too. I no longer have the letters or the esposo but I do still have los recuerdos. Mil gracias for the fond memories of those beautiful days!

    • @ Fabiola – When I met my husband my Spanish was very basic and his English was very basic. My Spanish was a little better than his English, but not much. Reading his letters in Spanish, I understood the gist of what he was saying, but not word for word. As I said in the post, I read them with a dictionary so I could understand better. Then, when I wrote letters to him, I wrote also in Spanish, (I had studied throughout middle school so my writing was better than my speaking), but again, I used the dictionary for words I wasn’t sure about.

      I will have to look in the boxes we have in the closet to see if I can find some of the letters I wrote to him. I’m sure the mistakes in them are really painful. LOL. I will tell in more detail the story of how we met in a few months. Our 13th anniversary is in January, so I will probably post it then :)

  10. Like that money counting from around the world thing you pointed out a while back, maybe the letter forms are just shown differently from the beginning?

    I was watching a documentary where some Nigerians were counting money, it was so different from the way I do it! Their letterforms may be different too for all I know.

    Though my husband and I write COMPLETELY differently too… his is very “chicken scratch” (left handed to boot). Mine is almost bubble shaped like my mom and sister’s

    • @ *pol – Wow! What a memory you have! The money counting video was posted years ago on a completely different blog I had. That’s impressive :)

      Here is the video for anyone interested:

      Ah, so you have the bubble writing I was so jealous of back in middle school? LOL. It seems all the girls wrote in bubble letters but I couldn’t do it myself.

  11. Congrats on reaching a year blogging and getting Freshly Pressed! With traditional minorities now becoming the majority in the U.S., we’ll be seeing more diversity. Hopefully this will bring a new appreciation of the various racial and ethnic groups that exist. Great post and love the pictures too! LB

  12. I was inspired to cross my 7’s by my elementary school Spanish teacher, who I believe was from Venezuela.

    I adore the fact you still have his number on a paper, and he does have quite lovely handwriting. A real keeper. Congratulations and many more years of love to you both.

  13. Lovely post. As a Latin American Studies major in college, I do have to say I don’t think there is any “one” type of “Latin American” handwriting, though I could be wrong.

    Tienes razón. !Viva la diferencia!

  14. i with a line through it… peculiar difference between myself and me? or something translated by an ink pen when I write it. Ah, mediumds with minds

  15. Hi there!
    I love your blog! It’s so sweet that you’ve kept those letters, Latinos are so charming aren’t they? I recently started dating a guy from my father’s hometown (in Mexico)while I was visiting family. Now that I’m back in the states we’ve been emailing each other like crazy. Unfortunately, nunca aprendi a escribir en español! My spanish is limited, so I sit here with my spanish english dictionary struggling to write him back… Your post makes me want to send him letters the old fashioned way :)

    • @ Trycentennial – Love knows no such boundaries. Keep writing :) … (and some old fashioned handwritten letters would definitely be worth your time. It’s a dying art. Help revive it!)

  16. […] dejar un comentario » September is a special month to me. It's the month I started this blog last year, and though my husband and I met each other at the end of August all those years ago, September is when we became novios. And so today has me thinking about the early days, when we were new to each other, and I was still discovering all the little things about him that endeared him to me… I first noticed my husband's escritura, (handwriting) within minutes of meeti … Read More […]

  17. My husband (from Bolivia) has awful handwriting…but I think it’s just him. I know that there they learn cursive first and then print.
    One interesting thing is that he, I, Joaquin and Isabela are all lefthanded….we’re not sure about Diego yet, but we’re hoping he is, too, so he won’t feel left out.

    I can’t believe your blog’s only one year old! I love your blog and tell people about it often.


    • @ Susan – I will have to ask my husband if he learned cursive before manuscript. That’s definitely not how it’s done in the U.S. I wonder how that affects a person’s handwriting. That could account for the extra “flourishes” in many Spanish speakers handwriting. Hmmm…

  18. Me encanta la forma en que las tiendas de helados olor. Como muy dulce, pero con el olor de fondo de los productos lácteos que han ido más allá del alcance de la fregona y ahora están a sólo un jarabe de alquitrán en el refrigerador. Me encanta el helado. Gran tiempo. Puedo comer todo el tiempo. Me encanta la forma en que huele en el aliento después de no cepillarse los dientes.

    • @ Ryan – Weirdest comment I’ve gotten in a long time. Very avant-garde. Thanks for visiting… and enjoy your ice cream?

  19. Wow, what beautiful writing your husband has. It’s nicer than mine! I never realized that your culture could play a role in the way you write, but now that you say it, I see a major difference. Oh, and most of the American/Canadian men I know also write in chickenscratch.
    Thanks for posting this. Truly interesting!

  20. hi, this subject is really interesting, i always wondered why u.s.a people and latin people have so different handwritting. Also i noted that you wroted ” diferencias” with a tilde in ” cías”, well my point is that i don´t think that the word has any tilde at all, well look with the blog

    • @ anisa – Thanks for the Spanish spelling lesson. I still make mistakes :) I think that you’re correct and will fix it!

  21. Again… so in love with your story telling amiga.
    About the “pretty” handwriting style in LatinAm… hmmm… I´m not so sure. I know very few Mexican guys who have nice hw. My dad has the most beautiful hw you´ll ever see, but he is a romantic at heart and still writes us (her two daughters and my mom) letters on beautiful paper and special colored inks from his collection of fountain pens. I treasure those letters like gold!
    Gotta go keep on reading your archives!
    Mas abrazos,

    • So flattered that you’re reading the archives :)

      I love that your father writes you old fashioned letters. That is so special!

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