Genius

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It's not just young people who are apparently losing the ability to produce and interpret cursive writing. I missed a striking example a few months ago when a reporter for the Daily Mail demonstrated ignorance of the standard way to write a cursive capital "G" ("Some 'genius'! Suspect on assault charge pictured with misspelt tattoo", 2/4/2011):

It's wrong on so many levels.

As if covering your face with ugly DIY tattoos wasn't a dumb enough thing to do, this suspect in an assault case even managed to misspell the one that runs right across his forehead.

Jerome Smith had the word genius written with a 'j' instead of a 'g'


Jerome Smith may have tattoos all over his face, but the Daily Mail has egg all over its face, because the word Genius on Mr. Smith's forehead is not "spelled with a j instead of a g". Apparently the Daily Mail's reporter thinks that the tattooed first letter is a "J" with a little squiggle of a curlicue hanging down from the top left, rather than a nicely formed cursive capital "G".

But let's see if there are any real mistakes among Jerome Smith's multilingual tattoos. On his right eyelid I think that I can see "Forever", and on his left eyelid it seems to say "Blessed"; although the "Forever" trails off into a straight line after the third letter, there doesn't appear to be any obvious error with either of them.

On his neck we read "omerta," the Mafia term for "code of silence". Sticklers will note that the final letter should have an accent, thus "omertà". That's a minor blemish.

On his right cheek is chǒu 丑 ("ugly"), on his left cheek is huài 坏 ("bad"), and at the top of his nose is mā 妈("mom"). All three are legible and basically correct, but the quality of the calligraphy deteriorates from the first to the last.

Perhaps some eagle-eyed Language Log readers can spot a few more words hiding in various corners of Jerome Smith's face, but I will stop here, adding only that I think the word "Genius" on his forehead is actually quite well executed. As for the editors at the Daily Mail, in the unlikely event that they care to learn where they went wrong, they could begin by reading this: "Cursive and Characters: Dying Arts".

[A tip of the hat to Michael Carr for calling the Mail article to my attention]



110 Comments

  1. Daniel R said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 6:17 am

    Much as I'm loath to defend the Daily Mail, this is unfair. "Cursive" is unknown in the UK, and this is not a new thing: it certainly wasn't taught when I was at school 30 years ago.

    Children are taught "joined-up handwriting", but that's quite a different thing, and doesn't have the very stylised letter forms that cursive does.

  2. richard howland-bolton said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 6:33 am

    Curses, Daniel got there first.
    Even after 30 odd years in the States, cursive looks odd to me (British and in my 60s).

  3. Alan said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 6:38 am

    When I learned to write in South Australia 50 years ago, it was in cursive script. I had to dip a nib into an inkpot once or twice every line. The first letter of the word on Jerome Smith's forehead is not much like any of the letters I learned, but is closer to what I would have written for "J" than to "G".

  4. Rachael said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 6:40 am

    What Daniel and Richard said.

    Also, that doesn't really look like an archetypal cursive G. The top bit is too flat and too insignificant relative to the rest of it. It looks like an ambigram-style glyph designed to be read as either a G or a J.

    Maybe the tattoo artist was playing a joke on the guy, giving him something which could be defended as technically a G, but which people would read as a J and mock him? Or maybe the guy deliberately got a cursive G that looked like a J, to bait people into saying "Genius? You can't even spell it" so that he could get one over on them by pointing out that it's actually a cursive G?

  5. Tina said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 6:45 am

    In the UK it looks more like a T but it could easily be interpreted as a J given the context and because it looks nothing like the cursive Gs I've seen (while searching through old documents).

  6. Karla said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 6:49 am

    It is, indeed, a correctly written cursive G as I learned to write them in elementary school. (I'm 52, educated in Iowa, USA.) BUT when I first glanced at the picture I thought it said "Jesus." The point of communication is to exchange information. If he wanted us to look at him and think "Genius," he probably should have asked the tattoo artist to use a more current font.

  7. Karla said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 6:53 am

    To see how to write capital letters in cursive, take a look at the cursive practice sheet here: http://www.memoriapress.com/images/book_images/NAC/nac-complete-alphabet.gif

    My oldest son is almost 25 and he had very little cursive writing instruction past the first few grades. My younger son had next to none. I guess the schools (here in Texas anyway) think they'll all be using computers anyway. They started "keyboarding" in first grade.

  8. Ran Ari-Gur said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 7:06 am

    It almost looks like it started out as a non-cursive J, and then got fixed to a cursive G. (Notice the top right-hand corner of the letter: there's a T-shape there, like in a non-cursive J, rather than the inverted V-shape you'd expect in a cursive G. And none of the rest of the word is in cursive.)

  9. michael farris said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 7:14 am

    The proportions are kind of wonky and the shading misguided but it's basically the same cursive G I was taught in the third (or fourth?) grade in the mid 60's (US).
    Before this post I wouldn't think any literate adult would misread it. Shows what I know.

  10. Tim said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 7:17 am

    People's lake of familiarity with cursive caused me to stop using it. Capital T also looks like a J in cursive meaning lots of people thought my name was "Jim".

    It was a blessing in disguise though, my print writing is a lot better than my joined-up.

  11. Ø said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 7:25 am

    What's the point of writing the cursive G and then not joining up the letters?

  12. Elliott P. said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 7:27 am

    I learned cursive in the early-mid 1990s, in Indiana. I couldn't do a better job than this tattoo artist writing a cursive, capital G according to how I was taught.

  13. John said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 7:47 am

    Another Brit chiming in to say that "cursive", to me, has always meant simply "joined-up". I never knew there was a particular script associated with it.

    Judging from what my father's told me about his school days, the fancy handwriting of choice over here was Copperplate (but this may not be accurate – Wikipedia notes that that's occasionally used as a generic for any "old-fashioned" handwriting).

  14. UK Lawyer said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 7:53 am

    What the other Brits said. I was taught (1960s) a version of italic script, which comes up with some strange formats for capital T, F and so on (so that one could write continuously), and small z and p, that I gradually abandoned as I got older. I would have made the same mistake as the Daily Mail (galling as it is to admit it).

  15. IrishReader said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 7:58 am

    If you go to the Pearse Museum in Dublin, you'll see letters from the 1910s written in what people in the United States call 'cursive'. Certainly my generation, who attended Irish primary school in the 1970s, were never taught the script that Padraig Pearse et al used. Having lived in the United States, I recognised the script when I visited the museum, but I was startled to see it in Ireland. It obviously died out here but lived on in the US. I can't comment on whether it was used in Great Britain although, as all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom at the time, I expect the script probably was used then in Great Britain.

  16. Ben Hemmens said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 8:02 am

    I just googled the cursive G and have never seen any such thing in my life.

    I feel pretty confident in saying I think this style of G is completely unknown in the UK. What I was (painfully and unsuccessfully) taught to write as a "joined-up" G was very different, had a loop below the line and was open to the right. You can find one by googling an image of a Guinness label; the G of Arthur Guinness' signature (presumably 18th century) I would recognize.

    The Daily Mail has demonstrated ignorance of the existence of a different cursive writing system in the USA, but not of "the standard way" of writing an uppercase G. This has nothing to do with the dying of any art.

    My experience suggests that cursive is not superior to other forms of handwriting. My father's elegant cursive was often nearly completely illegible, even for close family members. I and my 3 siblings all taught ourselves, without help, non-cursive writing styles, and all 4 of us get along in text-based professions.

    The other point about cursive styles are their narrow linkage to specific countries and languages; my first boss in Germany, about the same age as my dad, wrote in a pointy zigzag decorated with dots and dashes, whose abandonment by post-war generations I can only applaud. My non-cursive handwriting has the advantage of being equally legible in English or German (I have only changed the way I write the digits 1 and 9).

    If you think cursive is superior and something we should all know for other than antiquarian purposes, please show us some empirical evidence. Nothing against people who want to cultivate it voluntarily as an art form …

  17. Bob Violence said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 8:08 am

    I was educated in U.S. public schools and learned this "G" in the early '90s. The style I learned was the Palmer Method, but with a modified upper-case F that looks more or less like a block-letter F inverted on its X-axis. This would've been in either Texas or Oklahoma, I'm not sure which. As Karla notes, school districts have been gradually dropping cursive from their curricula, but I would think most Americans older than 20 or so would recognize it as a "G." Ran Ari-Gur nailed the real problem here, which is that "G" is the only cursive letter in the entire thing.

  18. Bob Violence said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 8:11 am

    Scratch that, what I learned was actually D'Nealian (but still with a modified F).

  19. Carl said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 8:12 am

    Do they not have General Mills in the UK? Bad British Breakfast strikes again!

  20. J.W. Brewer said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 8:22 am

    Carl beat me to it! (Seriously, even if you had difficulty recognizing oddities like the cursive capital Q, if you grew up eating sugary breakfast cereals in the U.S. in my generation you would definitely at least know http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:General_Mills_logo.svg.)

  21. Kathryn said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 8:25 am

    What Michael Farris and Elliott P. said–only I learned cursive in the late 50s. As for not joining up the letters, not all cursive capitals join to the following letter; while the alphabet Karla offered does join the capital G to the following letter, many of us who learned cursive adopted idiosyncratic mannerisms in its use–I, for one, never actually USED the capital G or the capital Q I had been taught. The artist may have adopted "capital G doesn't join up" as a practice; the remaining letters are certainly correctly joined.

  22. Uly said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 8:28 am

    "my first boss in Germany, about the same age as my dad, wrote in a pointy zigzag decorated with dots and dashes, whose abandonment by post-war generations I can only applaud."

    That wasn't voluntary. The Nazis thought it was Jewish in origin.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suetterlin

  23. h.s. gudnason said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 8:36 am

    I'm rather astonished at all the British responders saying that it's not what they learned and must therefore be wrong. The young man lives in Cincinnati, Ohio (where I happen to be at the moment), which leads to the suspicion that he's an American, and would thus be unlikely to have tattoos conforming to British handwriting norms.

    As for the quality of the lettering and its joined or unjoined state–they look like amateur, handmade tattoos. My attempts at writing with a marker on a balloon, or on a label attached to the curved surface of a jar have been considerably less pleasing than my normal writing on a flat surface. An amateur performing on human flesh would probably also win no penmanship awards.

  24. Ben Hemmens said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 8:36 am

    How come the old General Electric Logo has a G essentially the same as the Arthur Guinness one? Isn't that an American company? Or was the New American Cursive (as its name suggests) in fact not a traditional standard, at least in this detail?

    (From my memory, and looking at the link provided by Karla, I'd say several letters are different in detail to what I was taught (@ IrishReader: in a school in Ireland in the early 70s) but the G is so different as to be unrecognizable).

  25. Ben Hemmens said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 8:40 am

    @ Uly: no, it wasn't pure Sütterlin as depicted on the Wikipedia page.

  26. B.Ma said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 8:48 am

    I initially thought he was trying to be clever with alliteration, as in "Jenius Jerome", but after seeing the picture and reading that he is in the US, I'm sure it is a G.

  27. Andy Averill said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 8:51 am

    As an American, I was taught the Palmer method in grade school (in the 50's), but I never use it, except to write my signature.The G looks OK to me, but that s is not the one I was taught.

  28. Alex said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 8:57 am

    Daily Mail made a mistake? How surprising. It isn't unusual to have an initial cursive letter followed by print. This is quite simliar to the General Mills logo. I doubt this same writer would think General Mills uses an odd looking 'J' as its logo.
    Maybe Jones really is a genius and is using the Indonesian word for genius. I don't see any other tattoos in English If they are actually DIY tattoos, he's artistically talented.
    As for cursive, it shouldn't be forced. Some students with dysgraphia or dyslexia have an easier time with print and some have an easier time with cursive. If it's easier for a student to write and read print, I say let it go. The frustration and discouragement is not worth it. I was taught cursive and never use it. It's too painful and it's illegible, even to me.

  29. Shaun said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 9:14 am

    "I'm rather astonished at all the British responders saying that it's not what they learned and must therefore be wrong."

    I don't think we're saying it's wrong, rather that the assumption "a reporter for the Daily Mail demonstrated ignorance of the standard way to write a cursive capital "G" " wasn't quite right, as that isn't a standard G in any normal British handwriting. The reporter was guilty of being unfamiliar with an American usage, which judging by the comments, is becoming rarer anyway.

  30. Catanea said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 9:33 am

    Thank-you, Bob Violence for having a clue, and including an example.
    This is Language Log. The place where we are constantly reminded that every person feels like an expert on his own language. Every person also feels like an expert on writing. Whatever "I" was taught in school is universal.
    The analogy is very close. As is the lack of useful technical terminology (I haven't read the new Cambridge Grammar yet, I know it's going to change my life.)
    "Cursive" (in American) just means "a running script" exactly the same thing "joined-up writing" means in English English.
    What is needed is to define a particular commercial [=marketed, and used for commerce] cursive script. Palmerian, Spencerian, Zaner/Bloser, D'Nealian… And many of them have a majuscule [capital] "G" like the one on Jerome's forehead.
    The teaching of handwriting used to exist (even though it seems to be being allowed to fall out of the syllabus these days).
    It was – I suspect grammar and other language skills are in this category, also – at the mercy of text-book publishers and their salesmen. If the salesman could convince the local school board that a particular system (with an appealing set of textbooks at a reasonable price) was good, generations of innocent schoolchildren would be taught that system and believe it was instituted by God. Or at least Miss Brookes in third grade.
    At least Professor Mair (perhaps alerted by the things that happen with Chinese writing) is aware of the problem.
    Whether there is a solution for the future, no one knows at the moment.
    Will we all be unable to "write" without a keyboard?

  31. Ellen K. said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 9:38 am

    The artist may have adopted "capital G doesn't join up" as a practice; the remaining letters are certainly correctly joined.

    Perhaps they are correctly joined, but they are not in the same script as the G. Those letters aren't written that way when using the cursive script to which that G belongs.

    While the G was totally recognizable to me I can see how unfamiliarity with that form of G combined with the expectation that the whole word is in one script/font would cause some to read it as a J.

  32. Jon Weinberg said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 9:46 am

    @Ben Hemmens: The cursive that we American commenters of a certain age learned in grade school traces its way back to the publication of Palmer's Guide to Business Writing in 1894. I suspect that, before that, American script was less standardized. In the very first (1890) version of the GE logo, the letters weren't even joined up. See http://www.chacha.com/topic/origins-of-famous-brand-logos .

    On another point, I don't think it's notable that only the first letter of Mr. Smith's tattoo is in cursive. It's not uncommon to put the initial letter of a text in some form of "fancy caps," and cursive will serve for that purpose.

  33. CLP said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 9:49 am

    I immediately recognized the letter G as a G in the photo. I agree it's unfair to expect people in the UK to recognize this G as a G, but it's not unfair to expect a journalist to do some research before calling someone an idiot in a newspaper. (Although expecting good journalism out of the Daily Mail is definitely asking for disappointment!)

    I am about 30 years old, and I did learn cursive in elementary school. I was also taught the D'Nealian style for both manuscript and cursive. What's annoying about D'Nealian manuscript is that it's designed to ease the transition to cursive, meaning it has all these unnecessary curves and other flotsam. In the years since grade school, I've tried to eliminate this useless crap from my (print) handwriting. I think Ben Hemmens and the educators at Karla's son's school have the right idea: I don't see the value in spending class time teaching cursive in a world where people primarily write with keyboards. (Good print handwriting should still be taught, however.)

  34. UK Lawyer said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 10:13 am

    Looking at those very old GE logos – now I get it (I think). The top loop of the G – what makes it a G to this Brit – has been flattened out and diminished in the tattoo to the point where it looks like a small flourish rather than the distinguishing feature of the letter. The tail of the G has become the main feature in the tattoo, making it look more like a J or I.

  35. Ellen K. said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 10:15 am

    No, the GE logo uses a different G than the tattoo uses. As mentioned here, General Mills uses the G that the tattoo has.

  36. Rose Eneri said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 10:15 am

    I entered 1st grade in Catholic school in Philadelphia in 1960. We were taught cursive from the start. As a matter of fact, we were never taught to write printing. Many cursive upper case letters look nothing (or little) like their print counterpart, beginning with A, G, I, J, L, Q, S, Z and certaintly the F we were taught which looks like a capital J written totally above the line.

    We were taught the Palmer penmanship method, one tenant of which is to hold the pen very loosely. We practiced writing overlapping loops and up-down strokes called push-pulls. As we did so, the nun would walk up and down the aisles and surreptitiously try to pull the pen out of a pupil's hand. If she could not pull it out easily, this was irrefutable proof the pupil had committed the unforgivable infraction of holding the pen too firmly. At which point, she would promptly whack him with it.

  37. Dan Lufkin said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 10:17 am

    One is reminded of the anecdote about Roman Jakobsen's rebuke to his class at Harvard: "You can't read cursive Cyrillic? You lingvists — You ought to could!".

  38. Kathryn said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 10:32 am

    Ellen K., well, hm. Other than the "s" (definitely not a cursive form, and I had overlooked that before) the other letters look like Palmer or D'Nealian letters, allowing for the artist's attempt to impose a calligraphic quality to the up and down strokes, and appear to me to be joined up–but then, we're reading some guy's forehead, so possibly I'm indulging in wishful thinking. The point, that in certain contexts the initial font may not be the same as that used for the rest of the word makes sense to me.

  39. Ast A. Moore said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 10:36 am

    Here's an example (video) of the uppercase G as demonstrated by Joe Vitolo:
    http://www.iampeth.com/videos/pages/vitolo_uppercase_GLS.htm

  40. Theodore said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 10:39 am

    Thanks to Karla & Bob Violence for the examples; I'm still hunting for the style I was originally taught in the 1970s in the Chicago suburbs. I changed schools between 3rd & 4th grades and think my new school used D'Nealian. I couldn't stand the way my new teacher wanted me to write the capital 'T' in my name. (If anything could be confused with a printed 'J' it's the D'Nealian 'T'.) Maybe my memory is just foggy and it was actually Palmer or NAC I originally learned.

    Also thanks to Uly for the Suetterlin link. My dad is currently trying to decipher a pre-WWII letter from Germany to an ancestor here. This looks pretty close to the scan.

  41. Ray Girvan said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 10:57 am

    My two cents: I agree with the other British commenters that it's a regional issue. I'm old enough to have been taught some flavour of cursive handwriting, but a "G" like that was completely unknown to me. The one I know is topologically like the one in Simply Glamourous or Respective.

  42. Mar Rojo said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 10:58 am

    I think it is a "j", and is a play on the first letter of his name combined with the idea of a genius.

  43. KeithB said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 11:10 am

    It is a good thing the word did not start with "Q"! Does anyone actually use the "2" form of the cursive "Q"?

  44. MattF said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 11:16 am

    @KeithB

    My recollection is that I learned the weird cursive 'Q' (and 'S'). And, also, that my teachers all thought I had a terrible handwriting until I stopped using cursive and started using un-joined-up 'printing'.

  45. Mr Punch said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 11:16 am

    Another American corporate logo using cursive is that of the Ford Motor Company. British readers may be familiar with that one – a blue oval?

  46. Brett said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 11:25 am

    @KeithB: I used to dislike the cursive "Q," but I was curious about where some of the odder cursive letters came from. After looking at the development of the cursive "Q," I adopted an older form, which is much more recognizably a "Q." The main features are a complete up-stroke from the bottom to where the "2"-like figure begins and a large loop of the tail before it emerges to the right.

    Here's an illustrative image from somebody who seems to have taken a similar approach: http://notes.1ec5.org/archives/2005/05/30/cursive-q.gif

  47. Jon Weinberg said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 11:27 am

    The Ford logo, I gather, is in Spencerian script — which Wikipedia says was standard in the U.S. pre-Palmer. Notably, the Spencerian style (developed by Platt Spencer in 1840, and popularized after his death in an 1866 book) still has an "American" (General Foods) rather than a "British" (Guinness / GE) upper-case G. http://www.iampeth.com/lessons/spencerian/Real_pen_work/real_penwork_page5.html
    Any pre-1840 antedatings?

  48. q said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 11:30 am

    KeithB, I do whenever I sign my name.

  49. Andrew (not the same one) said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 11:41 am

    Catanea:

    "Cursive" (in American) just means "a running script" exactly the same thing "joined-up writing" means in English English.

    That may be what it's 'supposed' to mean, but I frequently see people using 'cursive' to mean the particular style they learned in school, e.g. 'I find cursive too difficult: I use italic' and so on.

    There seems to be a widespread assumption among Americans that cursive forms will be significantly different from printed forms. This, I think, is why there is such controversy about whether there is any point in teaching cursive. British joined-up forms tend to be much closer to printed forms – and in particular the capitals are often the same.

  50. Jerry Friedman said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 11:44 am

    @KeithB: I have in fact used the weird 2-shaped Q.

    The G on Mr. Smith's forehead looks much like the one in my signature. (My full first name is Gerald.) Although mine could "join up" better than his, I don't join it, though I do join all the following letters.

    @Alex: I'd take "DIY tattoo" to mean a friend did it, maybe with less than professional equipment, not that he did it on his face himself. I agree that if he somehow did do it himself, his skill is quite impressive.

    @Karla: The point (no pun intended) of tattoos varies between communication and decoration, and people get tattoos in far less readable script than that. Probably few of Mr. Smith's viewers (?) read Chinese, but he presumably knows what the characters mean and can tell people who ask.

  51. Jon Weinberg said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

    I've found an American-style upper-case "G" in a U.S. document created in 1833. Earlier 19th-century U.S. documents that I've found, though, seem to follow the British style. (I've spent much too much time on this — what was I thinking?)

  52. Catanea said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

    @Andrew (not the same one)
    That's what I'm saying. Everyone here is just riffing on their own definitions of the word "cursive" based on whatever they learned and wherever they heard it first.
    One begins to feel like Dr Pullum trying to address people pontificating about "passive" constructions.
    Until everyone comes together and listens to (at least one – but by a professional) lecture nothing can be said. The "professional" might not quite share my precise parameters, but would undoubtedly define his terms in the course of the lecture.
    It's just a lot of people saying "That's not a G"; "Oh yes it is".
    Thank-you, Andrew.

  53. Ray Dillinger said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

    I learned Zaner-Bloser cursive in school (late 1960's, America, Midwest) but had to be able to read several other styles of writing (and archaic registers of English but that's another story) in order to manage reading letters from far-flung family members. I had no problem recognizing this as a G, although it's the one I remember as my uncle Freve's G rather than one I've seen in more general use.

    I remember being fascinated by my aunt's copperplate writing. The thing with Copperplate, at least the thing that fascinated me about her copperplate, was the way the downstrokes were wider, or heavier, than the upstrokes. As a kid who was working with pencils and ballpoint pens, this was very mysterious to me, until I caught her in person and got her to demonstrate how she did it — which of course involved a nib pen that needed to be dipped into a bottle of ink, with a split tip that spread out under greater pressure. It was a mechanical contrivance I had never seen before.

  54. Richard said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

    I can't speak for the Chinese, but the J/Genius bit *could* be an ironic joke. And quite a funny one at that.

    I'm sure most of us remember this classic bit of Homer Simpson tomfoolery from this 15 second clip; same basic joke.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNmWt9URJD4

    At the very least I hope he INTENDS on saying it was an ironic joke now!

  55. JR said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

    @Uly "The Nazis thought it was Jewish in origin."

    I really doubt that. Notice how that Wikipedia page cites no references. I had always heard that "Gothic" type and scripts were banned so that German could be read by others, as quote from Hitler suggests: "Unsere Sprache wird in hundert Jahren die europäische Sprache sein. Die Länder des Ostens, des Nordens wie des Westens werden, um sich mit uns verständigen zu können, unsere Sprache lernen. Die Voraussetzung dafür: An die Stelle der gotisch genannten Schrift tritt die Schrift, welche wir bisher die lateinische nannten…"
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normalschrifterlass#Normalschrifterlass

  56. JR said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

    My bad: see link above where Borman says "Gothic" script comes from "Schwabacher Judenlettern."

  57. Ellen K. said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

    @Kathryn, the e, i, and u are somewhat debatable, though they look like a typeface font to me, not a cursive script. But the n is definitely not cursive script; it only has one hump. If it were in the cursive script of the G, it would have two humps.

  58. Erik M. said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

    Since those who don't recognize the cursive G are well-represented in this comment thread, I thought I should chime in. The letter in the tattoo is unambiguously a capital G for me, a 37-year-old American who was taught cursive writing in Minnesota. After I read the post and looked again I understood how the Daily Mail reporter could read a J instead, but it took a little effort.

    It's a fascinating difference between English-speaking countries that I would never have guessed; I would have thought it more likely that UK handwriting used forms we in the US wouldn't recognize.

  59. SeanH said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

    Sticklers will note that the final letter should have an accent, thus "omertà". That's a minor blemish.

    Is this still true when it's written in capital letters, as it is on Mr Smith? I had an idea from school that capital letters didn't get accents, but Google is withholding an ambiguous verdict.

  60. Ben Hemmens said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

    I think we're getting a bit off-topic with the Nazis, but I believe their attitude to typography (like a lot of other things involving tensions between the traditional and the modern) was fairly confused and chaotic. I wouldn't bother trying to make too much sense of it. Different people found themselves in positions of power over some issue or other at different stages and declared their own preference to be the one true German way.

  61. Dave K said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

    I was born in Cincinnati (the same city where this kid was arrested) but grew up in the suburbs of Chicago in the 1970s. The writing on his forehead is a hybrid script — the initial letter is clearly a cursive capital "G" as I was taught to write it in school (though the upper-left curlicue is less prominent than I would make it), but the final letter is not a cursive lower-case "s", which has a pointy top and looks nothing like a printed lower-case "s".

  62. michael farris said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

    I work in a Polish university and recently had to fill in a diploma kind of form that was obviously intended to be in fancy Polish handwriting which I can't do (the only other person possibly available was not American but not Polish either).
    I made some xeroxes and practiced my dormant penmanship skills only to find that my American hand looked alternately ridiculous and illegible to Poles, especially the capital A (that looks like a large version of the lower case a) and the lower case s (that looks a little like a backwards lower case a).
    Also the american lower case z looks like cursive z from Cyrillic (Polish handwritten z's always look like z's).
    I gave up that and created a kind of slightly fancy printing that was semi-joined in places. Not a work of beauty but acceptable to the bureaucracy and recipients.
    Another problem I have is the old cursive T which I still often use looks a lot like a Polish handwritten J which confuses people no end.

  63. Jerry Friedman said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

    @Catanea: Lots of respondents here are saying things that are more reasonable than "That's a cursive G." "No it isn't."

    @Ran Ari-Gur: The line weights also suggest that it might be a J changed to a G. I wonder whether the first artist misspelled it—as his joke or Mr. Smith's or as a joint mistake—and then another one corrected it very cleverly. However, it looks pretty centered as it is, so maybe not.

  64. ShadowFox said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

    Having learned BrE first, then SAE as an ESL student outside the country, I certainly recognize the cursive G, although the top right corner should be joined, not overlapping.

    But, returning to the Chinese, it really seems illogical to have all these self-aggrandizing tattoos–including "Bad"–and then top it off with "Mother Ugly". I have a sneaking suspicion that either the gang he runs with or the tattoo "artist" believe that they wrote "Bad Motherfucker". Seeing how he spent the better part of the last 8 years in prison–where he landed again in February after clobbering an 8-month pregnant woman on the head with a gun–he probably thinks he IS a "bad mother". Unfortunately, so is his victim, who demanded that the police drop the charges against this genius.

  65. Kathleen said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

    I'd like to thank the original poster and all the participants on this comment thread. You all encouraged me to waste a very enjoyable hour looking up all the different schools of American penmanship in the past century. Really, who knew? I had no idea there were so many forms, nor that each style still has vociferous defenders and opponents.

    Spencerian is particularly lovely, though I myself seem to have learned something very close to Bowmar/Noble in grade school in Tucson, Arizona in the 1970s. Nowadays, I mostly go in for sloppy printing, though, so all those years of penmanship class have gone to waste.

    I think I am now going to go try to find out as much as I can about British schools of "joined-up writing" — which, by the way, is also a new term for me.

    And that "G" on his head? It looks like a G to me. But it does make me think that it really is weird that many American forms of cursive have so many capitals that look nothing like the small letters.

  66. Dakota said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

    Did no one else learn their handwriting from Saturday morning cartoons? :)

    Here is Rocky the Flying Squirrel making a capital G (for General Mills) and Bullwinkle reminding us about the "big G little o" in Cheerios.

    http://youtu.be/S4UUx_ESdBc

  67. AussieBel said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

    I'm going to sound very vague here, but this reminds me of a study that I heard about a long time ago where people were shown letters of the English alphabet which then morphed into other shapes. The idea, if I remember it correctly was to see the range of shapes which were interpreted as letters, and the point at which they ceased to be a letter, or at least the letter that started the morphing process.

    Is this familar to anyone?

  68. J. Goard said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

    I learned cursive with that damn ugly G (California, mid-80s), and of course had to find a way to incorporate it into my signature, in which it now looks about halfway between a long-on-the-left capital gamma and a flat-topped M. Not to say that my signature is legible enough that anybody would read "Moard", but I do imagine that people trying to identify its owner would search for M names…

  69. J. Goard said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

    Heh, that should read "long-on-the-right capital gamma". My bad.

  70. Christopher said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 9:20 pm

    The thing I learned from these threads on cursive is that handwriting instruction in the English speaking world is incredibly varied.

    I went to school in Portland, Oregon in the early 90s, and we were only taught the Getty-Dubay method of "cursive italic".

    Which means that I actually can't read the "G" in this guy's head tatoo. If you forced me to guess which letter it was I'd have to go with "tiny harp".

    And yet I'm pretty sure younger people then me have been taught that script in American public schools.

    I also learned that nobody seems to know what the "correct" terms are for discussing handwriting. In my corner of America, the word "cursive" can be used to refer to any kind of joined handwriting, but it can also mean a script that uses the alternate letterforms seen in D'Nealian, Palmer and amateur tattoo scripts.

  71. Duncan said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

    As a few others have stated that it looks for them, here, had I come across that tattoo "clean" as opposed to pre-primed based on the discussion here, I'd call that a very clear case of a "J" that matches the font of the rest of the word, apparently later "massaged" into a "G", after he looked in a mirror or folks made fun of him or whatever. The left and top strokes are simply too light to be otherwise, when matched against the rest of the word.

    I could (pretend to, for social harmony reasons) go along with it being a deliberate play on the J/G thing if someone claimed that was the case, but I'd certainly have my private explanation that it was back-formed into a G at a later point, regardless. Even if I'd watched it being created "live" as a single tattoo event, I'd still believe that the artist must have realized his mistake mid-process, and that was his attempt to correct it on-the-fly. Because to me at least, that is so clearly the case based on the fact that a J would match the existing font while the bit supposedly making it a G doesn't, that it's hard to even argue the plausibility of another theory.

    But of course I recognize that as simply my own personal viewpoint, however clearly convinced I might be of it personally.

    For reference: I learned first printing and then something very much like the Palmer method for cursive (but with a capital T and F nearly identical in the lower half to a capital I of the previously linked by Bob Violence, illustration), in the mid 1970s, correspondence/home-study from the US-based Home Study Institute (I was growing up in Kenya as a missionary kid at the time). IIRC printing was kindergarten and first grade; cursive was third grade. But since I was in Kenya, only 10-15 years independent from Britain at the time and still a member of the Commonwealth, I was familiar with the local/Commonwealth longhand of the time as well (and of course exposed to all sorts of cultures and languages, no doubt contributing to my continued interest in linguistics today).

  72. ShadowFox said,

    October 10, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

    @Duncan–I can sympathize with the concern for the light strokes to right and at the top of the G, but that's as damning a piece of evidence as the overcurled stroke at the left bottom–no way in hell this could be a J! Remember–neither the subjects nor the "artists" are exactly the most literate members of society. Why are we so hung up on their calligraphy?

    As for all the questions about the preponderance of cursive caps in tattoos, note that Gothic caps are also quite common. They are chosen precisely because they are considered distinctive, unless one has some understanding of typography. And there is even more confusion about Gothic caps–misspellings are quite common, although few are on faces appearing in published mug shots, which is why we don't hear more about it.

    I suppose, it's too much to hope for someone to comment on the Chinese characters…

  73. Kate Gladstone said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 1:32 am

    The conventional USA/Canadian cursive-capital character set is a styleof capital that the UK abandoned around 1920, and that therefore cannot be deciphered by most living residents of the UK. Capitals in UK handwriting styles taught since the 1920s don't change to our North American "cursive" shapes when the letters get joined up.

    Kate Gladstone — CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
    Director, the World Handwriting Contest
    Co-Designer, BETTER LETTERS handwriting trainer app for iPhone/iPad
    http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com

  74. Matt said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 2:22 am

    I'm only in my 30s, and from a wretched far-flung colony at that, but I learned about this cursive G from the comic strip "Peanuts." If I recall correctly, Charlie Brown (or was it Sally?) had a terrible time learning to write it.

    tl;dr Daily Mail less learned than the funny pages.

  75. PaulB said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 4:47 am

    What that's meant to say is between Mr Smith and his tattoo artist. But if shown the first letter in isolation I would have unhesitatingly identified it as a 'T'. (I was taught to write like that in England nearly 40 years ago.)
    Have a look at the Declaration of Independence. The 'T's in the text and in the signatures are much like this letter. The 'G's (in "Nature's God" and in the signatures) and the 'J's are quite different. So the style of cursive 'G' familiar to US but not British commentators seems to be relatively modern.

  76. RP said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 5:37 am

    @JR,
    I've only read the abstract, but it seems to be true that at least some Nazis eventually (1941) denounced blackletter as Jewish ( http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bpl/glal/2003/00000056/00000002/art00006 ). I agree this is OT – apologies.

  77. Matt McIrvin said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 6:41 am

    I switched schools between the second and third grade (about 7-8 years of age); the first school was lagging in handwriting instruction, and the cursive capitals fell into the gap between the curricula, so I was never formally taught them and had to learn them by peeking at classroom diagrams. The ones I peeked at were generally pushing Palmer Method, with that strange G, a Q that looked like a 2, and with an F and T that were nearly identical. I've always resented them. I remember being somewhat confused by later guides that I think were showing D'Nealian instead.

    It was not until adulthood that I really realized that there were competing schools of "cursive" writing and that most of them made more sense than Palmer, or that anyone did anything different than to teach kids to print in unjoined letters and then immediately un-teach them that and make them write in cursive.

    In the United States, the decline of cursive is an endless source of handwringing laments about the dumbing-down of society from the same sort of people who like to complain about zombie grammar rules. I would guess that fewer than 5% of them even realize that the scripts they encountered in school are not universal in the Latin-alphabet-using world and are illegible to many.

  78. Matt McIrvin said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 6:46 am

    ("Complain about zombie grammar rules" in the sense of trying to enforce them, not in the sense of realizing they are zombies.)

  79. Glenn Bingham said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 8:44 am

    American–
    Writing award for good cursive in grade school–
    Haven't used since taking mechanical drawing in high school except for a signature–
    If I were the eyewitness to the crime, I would have reported that the guy's head said "Jenious" written in block letters–
    Only saw the "G" possibility (not MY kind of "G" from the Peterson system) after intense scrutiny. Since none of the rest is in cursive, the first reading of the ambiguous letter is that it is not in cursive, so a "J"–
    http://www.peterson-handwriting.com/Publications/PDF_versions/ReviewSections123.pdf
    (Couldn't find a danged cursive capital G until page 55, but there it is).

  80. Ellen K. said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 9:11 am

    I don't even get why people see it an ambiguous. It's a G. A particular kind of capital G. And very much looks like it. And as ShadowFox pointed out, the way it curls at the bottom left, no way could it be a J. If we're wrong and people actually make J's with the end curling like that, someone (who thinks that) post proof.

    @Glenn Bingham. I hope you realize that, whatever the initial letter, the tattoo definitely does not say "Jenious"; it correctly spells the latter part of the word, -ius.

  81. Faldone said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 10:31 am

    J http://thelettergallery.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/croppedJ_276.180145738_std.jpg

    J http://image.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/309385/309385,1236452720,8/stock-vector-letter-j-script-26217925.jpg

  82. Ethan said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 11:07 am

    It may be late in the game, but here is a link to an image of the Zaner/Bloser cursive characters that many Americans of a certain age were taught in elementary school:

    Zaner-Bloser cursive

    It shows both the "big G little o" majuscule G and the "Q = 2" majuscule Q, as well as the star-like-if-connected majuscule I that still blights my handwriting many years later.

  83. Giacomo Ponzetto said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 11:22 am

    From what I could gather, the lettering on the contentious tattoo is very consistently in the "Handwriting Without Tears" style.
    The initial capital is "cursive:" http://www.drawyourworld.com/storage/lessonstips/styles/hwotcursive.gif
    The following lowercase letters switch to "manuscript:" http://www.drawyourworld.com/storage/lessonstips/styles/hwot.gif
    So Mr. Smith and his tattoo artist are right, and the Daily Mail is wrong. Having said this, like PaulB above I wonder if such U.S. cursive styles are in fact relatively recent.

    I read that D'Nealian and Handwriting Without Tears were designed in the late 1970s; while Palmer and Zaner-Bloser are essentially 20th century styles. The more recent the style, the less readable its G is to me, and apparently to the other Europeans who have commented. I found Palmer unusual but obvious, and HWT utterly inscrutable.

    Instead the Declaration of independence, or a 1786 manual from Massachusetts (round hand: http://dohistory.org/archive/doc039/039_p48i1.jpg and Italian hand: http://dohistory.org/archive/doc039/039_p48i2.jpg) , present calligraphy that I can read with great ease.

    For honest disclosure, what I learned as "cursive" and still write on a daily basis is this: http://bookmarks.mikis.it/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/alfabeto-corsivo.jpg Family experience suggests that it has been taught continuously for the past 50 years in Italian schools, and the internet confirms it still is. It looks to me more like the Declaration of Independence than Handwriting Without Tears, but I'm not an expert and unbiased judge.

  84. Arnold Zwicky said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

    Some follow-up on my blog, here.

  85. Chris said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

    Ellen K:

    If you're familiar with that kind of 'G', then there's no ambiguity. Judging by the rest of the thread it seems there's some geographical element to that. I'm British, and the 'cursive writing' I was taught at school had a 'G' like that in the signature on a Guinness logo, as somebody else posted above.

    If you've been taught this form of 'G' then of course you'll have no problems reading it like that, but I'd think it should be clear how the ambiguity arises for people like me. If you read it as a 'J' then it's true that the curl seems a little extreme, but it still resembles a 'J' even if it is an oddly-shaped one. This form of 'G', on the other hand, is completely alien to me. It bears absolutely no resemblance to any 'G' I'm familiar with. In that context, especially given the decorative nature of tattoos, it's much easier to rationalise the shape as an unusually curled 'J'.

  86. Matt McIrvin said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

    I guess what I initially learned (or attempted to learn) was actually Zaner-Bloser cursive, not Palmer, which is almost but not quite the same.

  87. Matt McIrvin said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

    …Zaner-Bloser *traditional*, specifically, and what I saw later was probably the Zaner-Bloser "new style" (in which they actually let you put a crossbar on the F instead of distinguishing it from the T by a microscopic hook).

  88. Val S. said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

    I'm an American who lived in Britain for 10 years, and I changed my writing of certain letters (including G, as above in the script I was taught in the 1960s in America) when my British husband said, "What's that?" I also learned not to use the hash sign to mean number – they didn't use that in Britain, although maybe that's changing.

    I don't remember ever seeing General Mills cereal in Britain.

    Cursive – script – joined-up writing: it's all the same in that it is not printing.

  89. Tony said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

    I'm 24 and grew up learning my cursive handwriting from tracing notebooks used in Hong Kong. That man's forehead definitely says "Genius". I guess we didn't import everything about English education from the British!

    As for the Chinese characters…there isn't much to say except that they are horrific renditions (and I would argue that "bad" is, by far, the worst of the bunch, pun not intended). The tattoo artist made an admirable attempt to apply the correct weight to some strokes, but the three characters end up being out of proportion and not properly squared nonetheless. Perhaps it is because they were positioned over the lumpiest/most convex parts of the face…?

  90. Janice Byer said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

    Today's BBC.co.uk has an arts brief on fonts that declares them the "new handwriting" because of the semblance of self-expression they enable in digital form. An example, though not a pointed one, is made of the letter "g".

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-15253215

  91. yj said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

    That is very much a G (US cursive). Understand the regional differences, interesting discussion, and yeah I too thought the shape counter-intuitive when I first learned it, but Daily Mail–as journalism–really has no excuse.

  92. Marcos said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

    The regional variance is interesting, as is this thread. But I'm puzzled that people are still claiming it's a J. I sympathize with the glyph's distinct lack of obvious G-ness (and for a lark, those of you who haven't studied a Cyrillic language should give its cursive a go!), so if you weren't taught that particular G, you wouldn't recognize it as such. But once presented with the evidence – the General Mills logo by itself ought to do the trick – why is anyone persisting in their counterclaim? American subject, American tattoo artist, American cursive style… there's nothing aberrant here.

    As Duncan wrote, it may have started out as a J and been "repaired" into a G. That's certainly plausible. But try as I might, I can't make myself interpret the end result as anything but a G. Whatever the dubious skill level of the tattoo artist, I can't imagine the calligraphic calisthenics that would cause a J to get that sort of decoration without the intent of transforming it into a G.

  93. Glenn Bingham said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

    @Ellen K
    That's why I'm not into self-forehead-tattoo. Too many typos. Thanks for the heads oup. ;-)

    @Chris
    Agree: The expectation frames the perception. Were I on the jury, I would ignore the assault charge and vote to convict him of adding a line to his "J" as an afterthought to make it appear to be a "G."

  94. David Y said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

    I hardly bother with cursive myself, having found I can print faster (partly out of confusion when I try to remember what a certain letter should look like, especially capital Ls and Qs).

    Perhaps I should check out this joined-up handwriting business.

    Americans are also frequently expected to produce signatures in cursive. On forms, we often have to "print" and "sign" our names. I don't know whether this is true elsewhere.

    My signature was rejected by an automated credit card machine because "this isn't a signature." To be fair, my signature resembles a (very) simplified cursive D plus a squiggly line with rapidly declining amplitude. But that really is the way I sign everything; you'd think they'd want my actual signature, and not one where I'm faking it to fit the rules.

  95. Slow said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 9:35 pm

    G & J look similar in many cursive styles. Just use Word or whatever word processing programme you have on your computer to take a look. The easy recognition key is that the start of the letter curves in clockwise from below in the letter J while the G curls in counterclockwise from above. Proves that the Daily Mail writer isn't a genius and that the editor doesn't do basic fact verification (not a surprise). Sorry I can't remember the technical terms for calligraphy but it's been deacades since school art class (in which I never paid attention anyway).

  96. David Y said,

    October 11, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

    Following up on my previous comment, I'm having trouble finding samples of this characteristically British style (assuming it's characteristic of the whole place, which it may not be).

    Here's Kate Middleton's handwriting, which seems to have won some praise: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2019219/Duchess-Cambridge-Kate-Middletons-handwriting-shows-shed-make-great-teacher.html

    But it doesn't give samples of how she would've written all the other letters, especially the capitals. When I google "joined-up handwriting," all the top hits are similar to the cursive I learned in America as a child (I haven't yet figured out which particular system I learned, and was surprised to learn from this thread that there are so many). Would somebody kindly link a fuller sample than Kate Middleton's of the alphabet or, better yet, an extended sample of joined-up prose that contains all the capitals and lower-case letters? Thanks!

  97. Joyce Melton said,

    October 12, 2011 @ 1:07 am

    I was taught Palmer method in grade school in both California and Missouri more than 55 years ago. Penmanship was the subject that kept me from getting straight-As.

    That's a G in the something close to the style I was taught. The other letters look like a modified handwriting-style that became popular in the 80s or so, including the print-style s.

    I don't know anyone that continued using pure Palmer once they had no one making them do it. In particular, the I, F, and Q capitals were dropped pretty quickly and the lower case r was modified by almost everyone.

    My father had beautiful handwriting in some older style when he cared to use it but most often printed since he dealt with people from Mexico quite frequently and they had trouble with his version of cursive.

  98. Chris said,

    October 12, 2011 @ 3:49 am

    David Y:

    (To avoid any possible confusion: I'm the same Chris who posted the comment marked Oct 11, 1:11pm.)

    For the most part it was the same as the D'Nealian script, but some of the upper case characters differ. Specifically, the 'G' (of course), 'J' and 'Q' are significantly different from what I was taught. The 'Z' is also slightly different, but only in that it started at the bottom rather than mid-line, which may just be an idiosyncrasy of my teacher. I'm not entirely sure of the 'I' form I was taught, but I have a feeling that was also different (similar to the 'J').

    Unfortunately I've also failed to find any reference to this script online, despite a variety of search terms on Google. When restricting results to pages from the UK I found that a lot of them only showed lower-case cursive forms (using standard print capitals with them), which I found quite interesting.

    I think it was around year 4 that cursive was introduced to me, it would be good to hear from a UK teacher of this age group whether there's any national guidance on this or if it's left to the discretion of individual schools or teachers to decide on a particular form.

  99. Eric P Smith said,

    October 12, 2011 @ 4:31 am

    @Chris: From what you say, I think that you were taught the same version of cursive as I was (mid-1950s). It has the Guinness G. The closest I can find to it on the web is
    http://practicalpages.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/handwriting-cursive-lowerupper.jpg
    Only the upper-case Q is different: I was taught the version that looks like a 2.

  100. Chris said,

    October 12, 2011 @ 5:47 am

    Eric: Yes, that looks very similar to what I was taught. There are still one or two very minor differences (the bottom of the 'C' didn't curl so much, and the 'O' had a loop at the top joining to a mid-height tail), but they're quite insignificant and there's nothing there which looks 'wrong' to me. It's certainly much closer than anything else I've been able to find.

  101. Bernhard said,

    October 12, 2011 @ 8:05 am

    But I'm puzzled that people are still claiming it's a J.
    I think it's less claiming it's a ⟨J⟩, but that we can't see it as a ⟨G⟩. After having looked at various American Gs, and at the General Mills logo, when I look at the tattoo, my brain tells me that what I'm reading is ⟨jenius⟩ because I'm simply not primed for it (I learnt Lateinische Ausgangsschrift and use it in English, too, though I've started to use print letters because my handwriting is near-illegible in any case).
    And if I was presented with the General Mills logo before reading this discussion, I'd probably have wondered if that was supposed to be a highly stylised… mill.

  102. Cecily said,

    October 12, 2011 @ 11:32 am

    I don't like to defend the Daily Mail, least of all on an issue of accuracy, but until I read this post, I had no idea that American handwriting uses what is effectively a different font from British, and it seems many other Brits were equally unaware. Consequently, the Mail's lack of fact checking is understandable: they had no reason to realise there was such a fact to check.

  103. Chris said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 1:09 am

    I read the character between his eyes as 好 (good) not 妈 (mother). I think he was going for "the good, the bad, and the ugly."

  104. Jake Nelson said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 9:22 am

    I learned D'Nealian (didn't know that name until today) cursive in 4th grade (1992-93), was required to write pretty much everything for school in it in 5th and 6th, from 7th grade on, however, all papers were required to be typed (I was probably one of the last people outside of a few real outliers to do much of that on a typewriter).

    Most people my age can't remember how to make anything cursive except a signature, if that. (My signature uses print capitals and cursive lowercase. I just find any capital J that doesn't have the crossbar on top deeply wrong on an aesthetic level.) Most can piece their way through short runs of it, and I can still read letters in my grandmother's odd cursive, but with difficulty.

    Bloomington, Minnesota public schools, in case you're wondering.

  105. Jake Nelson said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 9:48 am

    Somehow left off the most relevant bit… with said background, it was very clearly a properly-formed 'G' to me at first glance, though I find the idea it was originally a 'J' and later corrected to a 'G' plausible.

  106. Gene said,

    October 13, 2011 @ 10:06 am

    Is cursive dying? Perhaps much as Roman numerals in American arithmetic.
    Is this a G or a J? How long is a piece of string?
    I'm 71, when I was a child on a ranch in Oklahoma I learned preliminary reading from my father's beautiful cursive handwriting. He was away in Europe on a chore. My attempts at writing discovered a mild dyslexia. My Father returned home just as I entered first grade. Because I was artistic and had no problem sketching everything around me. Dad incorporated that proclivity in teaching me how to write cursive. He being a Southpaw, was forced to develop techniques for himself. So he made it all fun for 6 year old me. He gave me free access to tons of old wallpaper rolls that were stored in the stable. We made quills from goose, turkey and pheasant feathers, a craft in it's self. Those old nibs allowed you to widen a stroke on the move by adding pressure and lifting it slightly caused the line to narrow into infinity. With control one can create quite a pleasing effect.
    I would select letters of many styles from his collection of old maps and duplicate them as best I could in foot high letters. I learned standing at his clerk's bench with a tilted top. From several old bibles were the ornate First letters of each chapters, which were calligraphy encased in art. I was free to make my own designs and choice of colors. When I had mastered the many different styles. He had me design my own cursive using a French curve and T square. As I mastered each I would reduce them in size until I had acquired my own style of cursive.
    Then came third grade and the pedantic tyranny of Ms. Galen. Notebook after notebook to be filled with ovals and up and down strokes. I learned to turn the page at 90 degrees and draw springs.
    I have little occasion to use cursive now but I remember the learning process warmly.

  107. Belenos said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 7:49 am

    I would never have picked that as a G (first guess J, second guess T), but it obviously is, given what the Americans here have posted.

    I could sympathise if it were wrong. I was within 5 minutes of getting a tattoo with the French "cet" spelled "c'est"

  108. belenos said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 9:36 am

    Actually there's another 2 letters I'd guess before G, D and O.

  109. outeast said,

    October 14, 2011 @ 10:15 am

    Like other Brits here, I can identify this as a G only because of the links people have posted here – and it still doesn't look the least bit 'g-like' to my eyes. I'd never have realized the General Mills logo was a G either without having been told (and as far as I know I've never seen it before).

  110. villa bali said,

    May 8, 2014 @ 4:37 am

    Why users still use to read news papers when in this technological globe the whole thing
    is existing on web?

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