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Russian cursive ((ру́сское) курси́вное письмо́ "(Russian) cursive writing", not to be confused with ско́ропись "tachygraphy") is the handwritten form of the modern Russian Cyrillic script, used instead of the block letters seen in printed material. In addition, Russian italics for the lowercase letters are often based on Russian cursive (such as lowercase Т: т, which looks like Latin m). Most handwritten Russian, especially personal letters and schoolwork, uses the cursive alphabet. In Russian schools, most children are taught by first grade how to write using this script.
Russian (and Cyrillic in general) cursive was developed during the 18th century on the base of earlier Cyrillic tachygraphy, re-shaped under the influence of contemporary Latin-based cursives. It became handwritten counterpart of so-called civil (or Petrine) script of printed books. In order, modern Cyrillic italic typefaces are based (in their lowercase part) mostly on the cursive shape of letters.
The Latin influence on the Russian cursive resulted in numerous characters that are similar or completely identical to Latin ones. For example, modern Russian cursive letters АВДЕИКНОРСУХавдезиопрстухч may coincide with Latin cursive ABDEUKHOPCYXabgezuonpcmyxr, respectively (despite on the completely different sound values in many cases); both upright and italic printed typefaces demonstrate less similarity.
Russian cursive is often more ambiguous than English cursive. Several letters look markedly different from their block counterparts and a few letters look similar to one another, especially in less accurate handwriting style. Another (and unavoidable, even in the "ideal" calligraphic cursive of ABC books) source of the ambiguity is the fact that several lowercase cursive letters consist (entirely or in part) of elements identical to dotless Latin cursive "i" or to a half of cursive "u": и=ı+ı, ш=ı+ı+ı, м=л+ı, щ=ı+ц, ы=ь+ı; therefore, certain combinations of these letters cannot be unambiguously "parsed" without a broader context. For example, л+ı+ı+ı can be interpreted either as л+(ı+ı+ı)=лш(лш), as in волшебник (волшебник, "magician"), or as (л+ı)+(ı+ı)=ми(ми), as in домик (домик, "little house"). There are examples of different words that become absolutely identical in cursive form, e.g. мщу (мщу, "(I) revenge") and лицу (лицу, "(to) a face"): here (л+ı)+(ı+ц)=мщ (мщ), л+(ı+ı)+ц=лиц (лиц).
Unlike English cursive, however, the Russian cursive system is not considered a "formal" style of writing. It is standard practice for Russians to write in cursive almost exclusively. In informal cursive, the distinction may disappear between such letters as и (и), н (н) and п (п) (plus а and к in a yet less accurate style; compare with Latin cursive u/n/a), as well as between д (д) and у (compare with Latin cursive g/y), between с and е (compare with Latin cursive c/e), between т (т) and ш (ш), etc. To alleviate the last case of the ambiguity, a horizontal bar can be written above the character if it is т or below if it is ш. Also, writing т as т rather than its usual m shape (т) is not uncommon.
Some fonts have been designed to mimic Russian cursive handwriting, most notably Propisi.