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Chinese writing system and your brain


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Here is an interesting topic on today's Wall Street Journal:


Scientists have found that the Chinese writing system puts demands on different parts of the brain than Western writing systems. The study suggests that helping dyslexics in China will require different methods than in the West.

More detailed information from another website:


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  • 4 weeks later...

My question was not how to write dyslexia in Chinese (I have dictionaries), but rather how do Chinese dyslexics write. In other words, in English a dyslexic person will confuse certain letters (more or less depending on the individual). So, what does a Chinese dyslexic do? Write the wrong radical?

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My honest answer is No, I don't (because I keep getting stuck and then have to reach for the dictionary. The fact that I live in the West doesn't help either!). I however read & write quite frequently using the computer.

I do think the main cause of my problem is similar to the cause for me not to know which of my hand is left and which is right (I've got only 2 hands and use them both all the time!). As it often takes me a few moments to determine which hand of mine is left and which is right, I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that this has some thing to do with the brain (my brain!).

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HK, I don't think that has much to do with your ability to write characters. Writing just takes practice, and practice, and more practice, if you don't practice, you can't write. Mixing up left and right might make you confuse some characters, but definately won't make you forget them all.

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I read a BBC article recently which said that speaking Chinese used both sides of the brain, because of the tones, but English only uses one side. It didn't make much sense to me, because we use tones in English for intonation.

I think that scientists still know so little about the brain that we can't really draw any conclusions from these kinds of articles.

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