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27 February 2008

What is reading?

I was listening to the audiobook of Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope this morning on the bus, and I thought Is this reading?

My immediate thought was no. Reading has to have words printed on a page. Then I thought of Shaun Tan's The Arrival, which has no words, but is definitely read.

But you don't read a painting in a gallery. Do you?

You do read:
-sheet music

Wikipedia says: Reading is the cognitive process of deriving meaning from written or printed text. I am not so sure.


Tom said...

I would say that reading is the cognitive process of deriving meaning from Stuff. You're absolutely right - it has applications far wider than text alone.

What is Barack's book like? I'd consider actually reading it myself if I didn't have the ball and chain of bookclub hanging round my neck...

Kirsty Murray said...

But the blind can't read 'The Arrival'. Do you really read images? I always thought you interpreted them. Same with moods. You can't really read someone's mood - you can only guess or interpret what their facial expressions and body language are implying. One of the things that is fantastic about the written word is that it is so simple. Black and white. Clear and simple.
One of my brothers has double colour blindness. Blue-red and yellow-green. So he sometimes has a difficult time interpreting images. But words - lovely simple words are a great joy to him. I know, I know - once you string a bunch of words together, you may struggle to interpret their meaning but in essence, reading is gloriously inclusive and straightforward and is about words. (well, that's my old fogey's take on it.)

lili said...

tom: i'm really enjoying it. it's especially good on audiobook, as obama has such mellifluous tones. (also, it lets you read non bookclub books, because you can listen during non-reading time like exercise and travel).

kirsty: you're right. i feel very sorry for the illiterate. the world must be a very confusing and frightening place.

karen tayleur said...

Before words, farmers would read the environment to predict weather. Reading body language is sometimes more indication about what is going on with a person than what they might text or email or even tell us. I think the word 'read' has wider implications than the written word.

limeywesty said...

you can also read facial expressions and body language.
I think reading is more like interpreting something from something, only that doesn't mkae sense.
But, if you're reading into something, you're looking at it in depth... so reading could be simply your interpretation.
This requires thinking.

Tom said...

He actually reads it himself!? That's unreal. I like him more and more.