… Italian writing. Actually I can’t write Italian writing either.

Writing admittedly is ever more a skill of the past (I had to “write” a note the other day to someone, with a pen. It was indescribably hard. Give me a keyboard, touch screen, swype pad whatever, but I am no longer any good at holding a pen).

But I really don’t get (I am possibly being profoundly naive and ignorant here) why Italian school kids still spend hours learning to create amazingly complex and curly letters which later in life transmute into a totally indecipherable scrawl similar to that which a drunken spider dipped in ink meandering across a sheet of A4 might achieve. Totally illegible.

Leaving modern communications tools aside (I would much rather have an undergraduate trainee who knows how to speed type whilst looking at the screen and not at the keyboard than one who writes prettily), but modern Italian handwriting bears little resemblance to the letters in their printed format, as in books, newspapers, and any other material, obviously in existence way before the digital age.

This is how letters look on a keyboard and in a book. It’s how they look on a pc, mac, smartphone and tablet. It’s how they look everywhere. And this is how I was taught to write.



Italian kids on the other hand get to drain world ink supplies by making each single letter so supremely complex as to render it illegible, and the extra time to get all the loopy bits in each letter means that they actually finish high school at 19 rather than 18…


Not only can I not read it (during training sessions I have a reputation as being a bit thick as I often ask participants to write their course appraisals very slowly in capital letters), but I am completely at a loss to help my children to acquire writing skills. I won’t address the missing letters issue (j,k,w,x,y) which are routinely used by Italians (even for non-foreign words; Jesolo and Juventus spring to mind) and Italian kids are still not taught where the letters “live” within the alphabet. Try being called Jenkins in this country and picking up  your pre-booked pass to access a conference …

Perhaps I might drop a note to Renzi for his education reforms. Write it like it is.





Una vita a Londra - e una vita a Firenze. Contrasti, sovrapposizioni, confusione, armonia, conflitto, accordo .... è tutto quanto dentro di me!

2 Thoughts on “I can’t read …”

  • Really, they do not learn the alphabet? Funny how “rudimentary” teaching seems like it would be across the board, but why would I be surprised. I have to say I am a tad jealous of Italian’s handwriting, mine is closely resembles a rebel 5 year old boy. BUT I can type fast. 🙂

    • Hi Tiana – it’s not so much as not learning the alphabet;the Italian alphabet really does traditionally only have 21 letters. But today’s language contains so many of the five missing letters (web, jeans, ok, xbox, play) that it seems crazy not to teach today’s kids where they stand in the alphabet. It genuinely does cause problems later. I do agree that when the kids do their beautiful curly wurly joined up writing it looks amazing. But in later years it slips and slides all over the place, and us poor Anglo-Saxon types have a really hard time with it! Yes – fast typing is much the better skill!

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