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When I was young there was an old German poster in my family kitchen that used to drive me insane, because although I knew it was in German, I couldn’t read what was written on it. It looked to me like another language! “It’s because that is old German handwriting”, my mum told me. “Some of the letters look very different.” Today I’d like to show you what old German handwriting looks like, should you ever be faced with the same, confusing situation!
Old German Handschrift (handwriting), known as die Kurrentschrift or Kurrent for short in German, but also known simply as die alte deutsche Schrift (‘Old German script’), was closely modelled on the handwriting used in das Mittelalter (medieval times).
An updated version of Kurrent called Sütterlin was developed in the early 20th Century, and was used and taught in German schools until the government changed it to deutsche Normalschrift (‘normal German script’). This updated handwriting resembled das lateinisches Alphabet (Latin alphabet) more closely, and is the German handwriting that is still used and taught today.
A point of confusion with old German handwriting is that some of its letters don’t look like their modern counterparts. The characters for c, e, n, m, and u, for example, all look very similar, while the h looks more like an f. If you are interested in learning what the old letters look like, study this photo of Kurrentschrift to familiarise yourself with them:
Unlike old German, modern German handwriting is fairly easy to read and follow. Be sure to look out for the number 1, which can resemble a 7 at times. This is especially important when it comes to addressing letters and giving card details, for example!
Here is a card sent to me by my German aunt, so you can see what modern German handwriting looks like ‘in action’!