Friday, January 30, 2015

Curiouser and curiouser

Here's the thing, and it's a little thing and an odd thing that I have noticed over the last few years.

Catalans have the worst time noticing italic writing.  It seems to look just like other writing to them.  They can only barely pick it out of a text and some have a great deal of difficulty doing so.

My thinking is this.  When I was a child, the text books used italics to emphasise bits of text they wanted us to notice or remember, or it was used for the titles of books or magazines, etc.

Here, the text books use bold.  They use it a LOT, no, a lot.  Drives me bonkers, I have to confess, because I tend to end up reading the bold and not reading anything else.  As do the students cause those are the bits that are on the test.

Seems they are inadvertently teaching the kids to scan...but scan possibly tooooo much.  So much that they have a really rough time picking out italics.

Now I know though and I underline it in the text when I show it, and for those in real difficulty, I underline it throughout the exercise.

Weird, no?


Anonymous said...

Very odd indeed. Makes you wonder why that would be. Quick Internet search didn't help, aside from indicating that both italics and bold can be used for emphasis, not really giving any strict rules, which would go in the direction of the "it's a cultural thing" argument. And it got me to wonder: Maybe the origin of the practice goes back to the calligraphy styles used in days of olde... Think about it this way: Calligraphy styles varied a lot from country to country. Before print became a thing, if the calligraphic style used by people was already slanted in a way, italics for emphasis would not make sense, you'd have no choice but go bold. Whereas in countries where the calligraphic style was more "vertical", italic would be an easy way to provide emphasis... Food for thought.

oreneta said...

it is really odd isn't it. I was on a more neurological level than a typographical level, what they have learned to search for unconsciously....

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but why would they have been taught to search that way in the first place?

oreneta said...

Hmmm, are we arriving at a chicken and egg moment? Because someone in the gov't decided that it would be better if they used bold so the kids could find the most relevant information more easily (thus avoiding the need to read anything else at all)?