In some writing systems, such as Korean, the shape of a letter provides a clue to its linguistic function. Usually, though, the relationship between a symbol of writing and the linguistic units that it represents is arbitrary. However, the shapes of letters and characters themselves are not arbitrary. They have been influenced by several principles, including economy, conservatism, beauty, expressiveness, similarity, contrast, and redundancy. Children learn from an early age about the shapes of writing symbols. This forces them to attend to certain visual details (e.g., left–right orientation in the case of the Latin script) that they have typically ignored. Children learn a good deal about letter shapes informally, but direct instruction in handwriting speeds the process. Corrective feedback plays an important role here, as in other aspects of learning. Learning to produce letters rapidly and automatically is an important foundation for the development of writing skill.
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