Speed Reading
Posted: 23 March 2007 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Inspired by the “Visualizing Words” thread and just for fun.

When I read normally, I “hear” each word as I read it. However, when I speed read, I don’t hear any of the words, I just seem to absorb their meaning.

This is also true of certain physical skills. When I first started to use a keyboard, I spelled each word to myself as I typed it. Now, I just think the word and it happens on the page, but I’m still “hearing” each word as I type it.

One of my regular clients of my computer geek side business is a medical transcriptionist and she types ridiculously fast. She listens to her headphones with eyes closed and types away like mad and only reads what she has typed after she finishes. She said she never thinks about what she is doing, she just listens and it happens.

Brains are interesting.

Anyone else have similar or different experiences with words?

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Posted: 26 March 2007 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Having touch typed for years I find there’s a similarity with playing a musical instrument, both seem to train the fingers to make certain movements to achieve the required effect, and it does feel as if it is bypassing the conscious part of my brain.

Edit: There’s also a similarity with martial arts in which you are deliberately trained to practice long series of movements (in some arts known as ‘katas’). The idea is that in a fight situation your body will perform the correct movements and angles without you needing to think about them. I suspect it’s true of dance and gymnastics too.

[ Edited: 26 March 2007 06:43 AM by flynn999 ]
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Posted: 26 March 2007 06:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It’s often called “muscle memory.” A bit of a misnomer as the memory isn’t actually stored in the muscles. What practice does is “rewire” the brain so that the movements are executed without conscious thought.

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Posted: 26 March 2007 07:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Is that the same as learning to ride a bike in that once learnt, never forgotten?

When I was a student, I discovered that I could take notes in a lecture without really being aware of what was being said by the lecturer due to thinking about something else at the time.  Like happydog, when I read novels and the like, I look at the words and they feed into a picture in my head.  I am unaware of the words themselves, which makes it less easy to find where I left off when I pick the book up again.

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Posted: 27 March 2007 09:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I never knew until I was a senior in college that people were able to read without pronouncing the words “aloud” in their heads, though I suspected a conspiracy since so many of those 19th century devotees could plow through the thousand page per week, per course assignments without any problem. A professor of mine discussed the progression or evolution of reading (as he thought it to be the case) based on two comments from approximately the same era. One was a recounting of Caesar’s (I believe) experience of needing to go outside of earshot of anyone in order to read a secret message, the implication being that he had literally to speak the words aloud in order to read the script in front of him. The second was by St. Augustine who stated that, when he first arrived from north Africa to his his school in Rome as a young man, he encountered his teacher in the library but couldn’t understand what he was doing: the man was staring at a book, thus clearly he was not asleep, but he was not saying anything or even moving his lips, so clearly he was not reading.

My professor went on to say that nowadays people read without pronouncing the words in their head. Needless to say I was dumbfounded.

As I get older I find I can “see” words without pronouncing them, but, yes, no matter how many times I see “MAIL” on my mailbox I still hear the word automatically.

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Posted: 31 March 2007 05:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Same problem here, foolscap. I have never been able to read without pronouncing the words in my head. Every time I try, everthing becomes a blur, and I get little out of it. My brother said that he was pretty sure I am dyslexic. Reading can only be done in complete quiet for me. It was very tough taking tests in school if the teacher allowed those who finished to chat. It scrambled what I was reading so that I had a very hard time completing tests, and thus lowered my grades.

I still enjoy reading, but it is still a struggle.

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