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Recently, I started wondering if I could/should get back into writing in cursive, which I haven’t done with any regularity since elementary school. I thought it might be interesting to reconnect with the way I related to language and typography in my formative years, and to see how that meshed with what I’ve learned since. So, I started scribbling out some random stuff in my sketchbook to see what would happen, and was fascinated with the results.

Since my signature is the only cursive writing I’ve done in ages, and I sign my name pretty frequently, anything I now write in cursive is instinctively transformed into my name. The “e-r-t” association is especially strong, since that string appears in both my first and last name. So, if a lowercase “e” appears in whatever I’m writing, I’ll follow it with an “rt” before I can stop myself.

Happy Cog has recently begun a redesign project with Housing Works. At the kickoff meeting, I tried to write “Housing Works” in cursive, realizing only after finishing that I had written “Housing Weychert.” Only by writing very slowly and deliberately can I ensure that my words won’t mutate into some dyslexic form of my name.

I’m sure there’s some psychological theory that describes this behavior—maybe something along the lines of classical conditioning—but I don’t even know where to begin looking. Has anyone else ever seen or experienced a phenomenon like this?