Learning to read English is tough enough – writing even tougher

Reading English is a one tough issue for our skull's miraculous lump of tissue

Stanislas Dehaene’s book, Reading in the Brain takes a thorough and scientific look at what it takes for humans to train their brains to read. Turns out it is a pretty extensive undertaking that requires several years of focused practice to get good at.

The Homo Sapiens brain did not evolve with an innate capacity for reading and writing. These are very recent accomplishments in the history of the species that have developed gradually thanks to good fortune, cultural
determination and the amazing plasticity of the damp organ in our skulls.

Dehaene points out that of the hundreds of human languages that have developed over the centuries, English is one that proves to have a structure that unfortunately offers an excessive amount of challenge to the brain. Read the book to find out specifically why this is so, and why Italian is much easier on the grey matter. The upshot is this: the historical English may have taxed our tea excessively in the 1700’s, but their language has been taxing our brains for centuries.

Because of the amount of extra brain processing required to read English, there is a higher proportion of dyslexics among English readers compared to Italian readers. I wonder if there is also a greater prevalence of writer’s block among the English speakers, and suspect there might be. If you need to expend real effort to get a job done, your resistances and the impulse to avoid will be called forth more powerfully.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing my native tongue. The very complexity that makes English a neural nightmare also makes it a fantastic vehicle for creative communication and expression. If you read and write English at all, you’ve climbed quite a mountain already, and if you are having some struggles with sustaining a regular writing regime, you are not alone. The good news is that because of the brain’s ability to adapt and change, you can teach an old neural network new tricks that bring more of those pesky English words out of  the lump and onto the page.

About David Rasch

Author, psychologist, speaker, teacher, consultant, workshop leader
This entry was posted in Common Writing Block Problems, Famous writers, Tips for overcoming writer's block and procrastination and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Learning to read English is tough enough – writing even tougher

  1. Fakewomen says:

    You make me feel good about my bad spelling

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