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Sans-serif and Italian

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Ralf Herrmann

I have an English question specifically to Italians. I just read the lyrics of an Italian song and noticed I couldn’t differentiate at all between “Io” (IO) and “lo” (LO) on my iPhone using the default sans-serif font. Is that a know issue for Italian or is it more or less a theoretical problem and you just know from the context what is meant and it doesn’t slow down the reading at all?

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Riccardo Sartori

In the specific case there should be little confusion, because “io” should not be capitalised, unless it is at the start of a sentence (or it is God itself speaking).*

But in general there are instances with little or unfamiliar context (e.g. news headlines), that can be problematic.

Perhaps a more common source of confusion is “Il” and “II” (used as ordinal number).

 

* Or a psychology text.

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  • 1 month later...
Ralf Herrmann

Real-world example:

I just stumbled on it again in the Duolingo app, where the word order is deliberately scrambled. 

Bildschirmfoto 2019-12-15 um 19.48.35.png

On close inspection, the “l” has at least a tiny hook, but in this example “Io” could also make sense. Sometimes the capitalize the first word in the bubbles, sometimes they don’t. So it could really be both unless the font makes it clear. 

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Riccardo Sartori

Yes, it could also be a problem in less formal situations (like text messages, for example).

I would say, though, that in using my phone it still bothers me less than the choice of a typeface with a one-storey |a| in the Notes app 😉

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