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abcdefgThe French “Abécédaire” (Abecedarium) is an object of curiosity for English speakers, especially in the United States of America where cursive letters are on the list of endangered species. French students learn their letters using very specific supporting lines and very few variations are allowed, at least during the early years. The main writing tool was until very recently the fountain pen. The uniformity of the calligraphy is achieved through months of repetitions and the use of the same type of paper up to the college level. Unfortunately this calligraphy does not fit very well for example left handed people. Their hand position prevents the pen feather to move smoothly on the paper leading to the so called “pattes de mouche” (a writing style usually smaller than the norm and difficult to read).

For those interested in testing their skills, here is a blank sheet of paper in a standard 17cm by 22cm format. Please note that the left margin is reserved to the teacher, who is the only person allowed to use red ink:

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