I suppose I assumed illiterate people could read

Not much, obviously. The alphabet. Their own name, that sort of thing.

Turns out not.

I encountered a man the other day who I had to get to fill in a form. Just name, contact details and signature.

It was a difficult thing to do. Obviously I had to fill it in for him, but it also turns out he hasn’t got a phone number or an address. Not homeless, mind, just lives somewhere that hasn’t got an address. It’s on a gypsy camp.

Signed his name with a very shaky looking cross.

Back when my business accepted checks, I had a few clients who would hand over a signed check for us to fill out.

This chap seems to be able to handle coins alright, although maybe not read numbers. No signature, though.

Wait, do cheques have to have the amount written in words? I’ve never actually used one.

Yep. The people I took checks from took the check out of their purse/pocket already signed and had us fill in the date, payee, and amount.

There’s illiterate, and then functionally illiterate. One is much more rare than the other. Both are rather too common. :frowning:

The only time I can recall dealing with an illiterate person was when one was the foreman on a jury I served on. The judge said that she liked to choose a teacher to be foreman because they have experience with getting people to work together. He obviously lied about his occupation. At least I hope he did.

It didn’t take long to figure out that he couldn’t read or write at all so I took over anything that required those skills, such as reading exhibits and writing down lunch orders. I never said that I knew that he was illiterate and he never stopped pretending that he wasn’t.

this was my experience too- well not on a jury, but with a fellow employee (concrete foundations and wall work). It was really sad/dis-heartening to watch him struggle and come up with 100 excuses. He had these glasses that were scratched to hell (probably intentionally) that he hadn’t had time to get to the optometrist to get new ones (for the whole year I worked there). He was clearly just terrified that he would get fired if the boss ever found out. But everyone compensated for him by reading menu items aloud or street signs. But everyone just felt pity on the guy as it must have been embarrassing as hell and just signaled a rough childhood. The boss had to have known though as it is just obvious once you are in close proximity to someone who is illiterate.

I remember a incident in my senior year English class. The teacher had several people read short passages from a book.

A kid I’d known since elementary school struggled with the reading. Sounding out every word. It was quite a shock for me. I’d never known him very well. We had often been in the same class throughout school. I had no clue he had a reading problem.

I have had several illiterate friends, they struggle. I had one friend who could not do any arithmetic or read at all yet he was a great carpenter. He could build some complicated things that would require me to do quite a bit of figuring.

In my job I encounter illiterate (and functionally illiterate) people quite often. There are many different contributing factors. I’m often surprised at how well some folk are able to function - work, shop, raise children, with minimal/no ability to read/write.

I’m also often surprised at the folk who have no obvious mental bar to learning as an adult, but have not done so. Sort of like the individual who lives in a foreign country for decades, yet claims ZERO ability to speak/read/write the language. It always impresses me as indicative of an extreme lack of curiosity.

I’m tutoring an adult ESL individual right now, but he’s completely literate in Spanish. He’s also very interested in improving his English skills. I would be interested in seeing what the experience would be like with someone who was not literate in ANY language.

Yup. There is a blank where you fill in the amount in numerals, for example, $20.00, then a line below where you have to spell the amount out, like Twenty and no/100 dollars, as a cross-check.

That’s one of the things that bugs me, you do not have to write the word dollars it’s already at the end of the line on most checks.

Yeah, I know. I didn’t really think it was necessary to mention that. What bugs me on my checks is that they don’t have the first two digits of the year printed on the date line. I have to write out the whole year, 2017.

I don’t write out the word “dollars”, either. I once had a cashier question me on it, and say it had to say “dollars”, and so I just pointed out that it already did. The entire line ends up reading “Twenty and no cents dollars”, which is odd grammatically, but I can’t help it that the check printer put “dollars” at the very end of the line.

I think they started doing that around the turn of the millennium which makes sense to me anyway.

I got my checks recently, just a couple of years ago, so post-2010. And my previous set of checks had the 20-- printed on them.

I thought the no/100 (or however many cents) represented a fraction, or percentage of a dollar, as in twenty and zero one-hundredths, or twenty and 0%.

I’ve never understood that, as well. I recently took a trip to Korea, was only there for a week, but I had a blast during the previous 2 wks teaching myself the basics of the language. Learning new stuff is fun!

I was taught to write the cents as a fraction of dollars, so: Twenty and 00/100 (with no word “cents”) dollars.

eta: nija’d


learning a new language as an adult is harder for some people than it is for others.

What I was taught about writing checks:
The amount written out in words in legally binding. The amount written in figures is legally irrelevant.

But the two amounts can be used, when scanned by human eyes, as a cross-check. Any cashier would presumably be well-advised to question any discrepancy.

Writing the amount is words is fast becoming a de-facto meaningless legacy ritual. More and more, checks are scanned by machines. Processing is automated, and the check may never be seen by human eyes after you deposit it. Digital check scanners, I believe, just look at the amount written in numerals. If the amount-in-words says anything different, or is illegible, it’s just ignored anyway. Automated check scanning also tends to disregard the date written on the check, and won’t even notice if the check is stale-dated or future-dated.