Dyslexia in Chinese

This article from the Guardian suggests that people who are dyslexic in English won’t necessarily be dyslexic in Chinese.

The argument turns on dyslexia being a defect of phonemic processing, and since Chinese is not a phonetic script, being bad at phonemes doesn’t cause trouble.

If the argument were true then it might suggest an explanation of why older scripts (such as Chinese and hieroglyphic Egyptian) represent words and concepts rather than sounds, and perhaps even why the first phonetic scripts were syllabic. One might say that phonemic analysis is a skill that took time for the human race to learn.

There are many missing parts to the story, which the journalist presumably had to leave out to save space.

  • Is dyslexia worse in Italian than it is in English? It should be worse because English is less phonetic and so depends more on whole-word memory and less on the analysis of phonemes, but it should better because Italian has fewer spelling rules to learn.
  • Does Chinese dyslexia exist and in what does it consist?
  • Why, if English dyslexia is about phonemes, do similar-looking letters (d/b, p/q) get confused?
Advertisements