Nobody can write... the lowercase "G."
Try to write the letter that comes after ‘f’ and before ‘h.’
If you wrote it in the more popular “opentail” form, you probably nailed it. However, if you wrote it in the “looptail” form, as seen in many novels and prestigious publications like the New York Times and All That’s Interesting, there’s a good chance you failed.
But don’t worry, you’re far from alone. A new study done by researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that almost nobody can write the lowercase ‘g’ properly. What’s more, a majority of people weren’t even able to identify the letter at all. When shown four versions of the lowercase ‘g,’ only 7 out of 25 were able to pick out the correct one.
“We think that if we look at something enough, especially if we have to pay attention to its shape as we do during reading, then we would know what it looks like,” said Michael McCloskey, cognitive scientist, and the study’s senior author.
But there’s more. Aside from being able to write it or identify it, the study found that an overwhelming amount of people were unaware that the two forms of the letter exist at all.
Kimberly Wong, a co-author of the study, said that when they asked participants to write both forms of the letter g “people would look at us and just stare for a moment, because they had no idea.”
In another experiment, only two of 38 adults named ‘g’ when they were asked to list letters with two lowercase forms. Of the two who acknowledged both versions, only one could write it correctly.
According to the researchers, the phenomenon likely occurs because we don’t learn to write the looptail form at school, so most people don’t have it committed to memory.
It’s a bit funny and understandable. But it also indicates that our knowledge of letters can suffer when we don’t write them. Since people are becoming increasingly dependent on electronic devices, they are writing less. This leads to questions about the future of writing as well as what the implications are for reading.
If you liked this article, you can next read about the study that found men assume other men are smarter than their female classmates. Then you can read about the world’s diverse writing methods.