Speed Reads

Today's spreedread was brought to you by the letter G

Do you actually know what a lowercase G looks like?

Americans have basically no idea what one version of a lowercase "G" looks like, an extremely embarrassing study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has found. Typography nerds might know that there are only two letters that have two different lowercase versions: A and G. There is the "opentail" lowercase G, which is the one you usually see; we use it here at The Week ( g ).

Then there is the fancy schmancy "looptail" G, which looks like this:

In the study of 38 adults, participants were asked to read a paragraph featuring 14 looptail G's and then copy the G down in the style they saw it each time. "Half of them wrote the opentail type," The Verge writes, while "only one person" could actually complete the task properly in its entirety. In another part of the test, which involved picking the correctly written G out of a lineup of four options, only seven people managed to select the right one.

Researchers believe this might have something to do with the fact that people don't write by hand as much anymore, thanks to all the digital alternatives. "In this context we relate our findings to studies showing poor knowledge or memory for various types of stimuli despite extensive exposure," the researchers wrote — after all, we can read a word with a looptail G in it just fine.

Then again, Google's old logo used a fusion of lowercase G styles. Maybe we've all just seen it way too many times. Test how well you know your lowercase G's over at The Verge.