Why Does Upper Case Cursive Q Look Like A 2?Posted: June 7, 2013
Upper case, cursive Q. You know the one. Q is the cursive letter that has nothing to do with the printed letter.
In the time when cursive was part of the elementary school curriculum, the top five questions teachers had to answer were:
- When is recess?
- Why do the cafeteria ladies serve pizza and corn together?
- Does spelling count?
- If a person could lift their own weight, could they sit in a chair, pick it up and fly away?
- What’s with upper case, cursive Q?
Recess was always right after the pizza and corn were served. Spelling counts if you don’t want people to think you’re a dimwit. Even da Vinci couldn’t work out a person flying under their own power.
But no teacher could answer why upper case Q looks like a 2.
Drawing Out Their Points
Back before there were computers, or even electricity, there were people. People who wanted to get their points across and pass on details. At first, drawings served the purpose of a written language. They were just right, as long as you didn’t want to say much more than “Marcel killed a moose with a spear”.
Drawings had another draw back. Some people just were not good artists. They had important ideas to communicate, but lacked the talent to depict them. We know that none of these people were my ancestors because art is in my blood. Since only certain people could use them, drawn languages faded out.
Q Was Digital, When Digital Wasn’t Cool
Society moved on. Eventually, it seemed that there would be some sort of symbol based system, but which?
Different cultures developed different symbols. Numbers were already an established force around the world. Pro number advocates pressed for a digit based system. They made inroads into the Cyrillic alphabet that we see used in the Russian language and in the Latin alphabet used in English, among other languages.
These pro-number advocates tried to usher in what they called a “digital age”. Their efforts failed. Numbers disappeared from written story telling and eventually, from all communication that didn’t involve mathematics. Digital age was to take on a new meaning a few dozen centuries later.
The digital age of alphabetic communication is gone…but not completely. I’m sure you’ve seen the number 3 in Russian/Cyrillic writings. The digital age also explains the 2ueer substitution of a fancy 2 for upper case Q in the cursive Latin alphabet.