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WRITTEN LANGUAGE                        249

To every letter of the alphabet there corresponded a/picture
painted by hand in water-colour, in which was reproduced in
•colour and size the cursive letter; and, close by, much smaller,
was painted the same letter in small printed, character. In the
picture were represented objects the name of which began with
the letter in question; for example, for m there was mono (hand)
and martello (hammer), for g, gatto (cat), etc. These pictures served
to fix the sound of the letter in the memory.

The pictures certainly do not represent a new idea, but they
complete a whole which did not exist previously.

The interesting part of my experiment was this, that after the
movable letter had been superposed on the corresponding letter
drawn on the cards on which they were grouped, I made the
children trace the letters in imitation of cursive writing many
times over. These exercises were then multiplied on the letters
drawn simply on the cards; in this way the children succeeded in
mastering the movements necessary for reproducing the forms of
the graphic signs without writing. At that stage I was struck by
an idea which had not entered my mind before: that in writing
are employed two different kinds of movement, namely besides
the already mentioned movement which reproduces the form there
is that of handling, the instrument of writing. Indeed, when
defective children had bscome expert in tracing all the letters of
the alphabet according to their forms, they were not yet able
to hold the pen in their hand. Holding and manipulating a
rod with certainty needs a special muscular mechanism which is
independent of the movements involved in writing; it is in fact
contemporaneous with the movements necessary for tracing all the
different letters of the alphabet. It is, therefore, a unique mechanism
which ought to exist along with the motor memory of the separate
graphic signs. There remained the preparation of the muscular
mechanism for holding and manipulating the instrument of writing.
That I tried to obtain by adding to what has already been described
two other exercises. In the first, the letters were touched not only
with the index finger of the right hand, as on the first occasion.