I for Italic

By Fred Eager
Date Added: 17/07/2009


Why should not Italic Handwriting be considered a proper noun and capitalised - or at least Italic handwriting?

The tradition so far has been to follow the printer's long-established use of 'italic,' which to a printer's refers to 'type whose letters slope to the right' - Thorndike Barnhart Dictionary. The Oxford Universal Dictionary: 'Italic. 1. Of or pertaining to ancient Italy or its tribes; 2. Italian; 3. (with small i) Applied to the species of printing type introduced by Aldus Manutius of Venice, in which the letters slope to the right. In early use also Italica 1.61.2.' Webster's New International Dictionary has substantially the same wording and the same three meanings.

Now Italic Handwriting has been called this because it originated in Italy, not because it is slanted (although it may be) or because it is like printer's type, which is a reverse of the true situation - the printers type called italic was developed from the cursive writing we call Italic, which was in use in 1501 when Aldus Manutius first used it in an edition of Virgil.

So, when Italic is trying to find a place in a country where Spencerian, Palmer, Mills system, Zaner-Bloser handwritings, etc. ad infinitum (almost), are well-known, if not deeply entrenched, why not at least give it the dignity of capitalising the name, which derives from the name of the country of its origin?