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  #1  
Old 10-19-2009, 09:49 PM
Animastryfe Animastryfe is offline
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Reading without sounding words out in one's mind.

The single biggest factor that slows down my reading speed is that I have to "say" the words in my head. I'm pretty sure the vast majority of people have to do this too. I have heard that many deaf people can read much faster than normal because they don't have to sound out the words in their heads, and I want to learn how to do that. From the little I've read out this, one way to do this is to read a book upside down, which supposedly helps one's mind to see words as shapes instead of sounds. Is there any truth to this, and what other ways are there to reduce my dependence on this?
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  #2  
Old 10-19-2009, 10:01 PM
Regallag_The_Axe Regallag_The_Axe is offline
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I'm sorry that I don't have any tips for you, but I'm not sure about your assertion that most people do it that way. The only time I have to sound out words in my head is when I come across one that I'm unfamiliar with. I can also read upside down and sideways, and I'm not deaf. Like I said, I don't have any tips, because I don't know how I 'learned' to read the way I do.

Now I'm gonna be thinking about this all night.
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  #3  
Old 10-19-2009, 10:08 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quote:
I'm sorry that I don't have any tips for you, but I'm not sure about your assertion that most people do it that way.
Around 95%, I think the figure is. You'll get a skewed sample from this board, though, since we tend towards heavy readers here.

Myself, it seems like reading just bypasses the "sound" parts of the brain, and just plugs directly into the language centers themselves. No, I don't know how it is that I do this, nor how one can learn to (though I imagine that just plain reading a lot probably helps).
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  #4  
Old 10-19-2009, 10:16 PM
aawilson aawilson is offline
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Re: Reading without sounding words out in one's mind.

Most people are comfortable sounding out words in their heads, and you can even speed this up with practice too. Sometimes I read while moving my mouth really fast. The problem with trying to quit the sounding out "habit" is it is way to easy to end up with reduced comprehension.
What you are looking for are Speed Reading techniques. If you do a simple search for Speed Reading you'll find there is plenty you can do to "speed up" your reading, but again; be careful because if you just skim, you will lose meaning! Mainly, you'll want to work on increasing the number of words you can read at a time - essentially you could end up teaching yourself to "sound out" a whole sentence instead of just a single word, I guess. But in the end a lot of practice and toying around could yield highly successful results. It also all depends on what information you are looking for as well; the business section can be read just as fast as the comics, but does that matter if you don't find the best stocks or get all the jokes?

Hope this helps.
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  #5  
Old 10-19-2009, 10:18 PM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is online now
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I think it depends on what I'm reading. If I'm just skimming, esp. non-fiction, I don't really sound them out. But if it's fiction, especially something I'm enjoying, I make an effort to slow down because I don't want to go too fast. Also, I like to "hear" the characters speak the dialogue.
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  #6  
Old 10-19-2009, 10:27 PM
Zulema Zulema is offline
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Maybe you just need to read more. I don't sound out words unless I've never seen them before. I think my brain just recognizes whole words and that comes with repetition.
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  #7  
Old 10-19-2009, 10:56 PM
TimeWinder TimeWinder is online now
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Gah! I don't usually mentally sound out words when reading, but now that you mentioned it I can't stop doing it -- I've read this entire thread hearing all the words in my head.

It may not be something you can consciously do; I can't turn it (mental sounds) off right now, although I'm sure it will go away as soon as I stop thinking about it.
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  #8  
Old 10-19-2009, 11:06 PM
Animastryfe Animastryfe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aawilson View Post
Most people are comfortable sounding out words in their heads, and you can even speed this up with practice too. Sometimes I read while moving my mouth really fast. The problem with trying to quit the sounding out "habit" is it is way to easy to end up with reduced comprehension.
What you are looking for are Speed Reading techniques. If you do a simple search for Speed Reading you'll find there is plenty you can do to "speed up" your reading, but again; be careful because if you just skim, you will lose meaning! Mainly, you'll want to work on increasing the number of words you can read at a time - essentially you could end up teaching yourself to "sound out" a whole sentence instead of just a single word, I guess. But in the end a lot of practice and toying around could yield highly successful results. It also all depends on what information you are looking for as well; the business section can be read just as fast as the comics, but does that matter if you don't find the best stocks or get all the jokes?

Hope this helps.
If I'm focusing on reading fast, I can read at about 380-400 wpm without losing significant amounts of information. I tried the techniques written about here today, and I've significantly increased my reading speed, although my comprehension "speed" isn't up to par yet.

Edit: I read significant amounts, at least compared to usual people my age (18 years old). I don't tend to sound out the words in my head when I'm reading fiction, as I tend to "watch" it like a movie, but I do do it for non-fiction.

Last edited by Animastryfe; 10-19-2009 at 11:08 PM..
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  #9  
Old 10-19-2009, 11:07 PM
Kimmy_Gibbler Kimmy_Gibbler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Animastryfe View Post
The single biggest factor that slows down my reading speed is that I have to "say" the words in my head. I'm pretty sure the vast majority of people have to do this too. I have heard that many deaf people can read much faster than normal because they don't have to sound out the words in their heads, and I want to learn how to do that. From the little I've read out this, one way to do this is to read a book upside down, which supposedly helps one's mind to see words as shapes instead of sounds. Is there any truth to this, and what other ways are there to reduce my dependence on this?
This won't be any help, but I think the problem is that people don't read slowly enough. So unless you have a backlog of reading, I wouldn't sweat it.
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  #10  
Old 10-20-2009, 01:44 AM
dracoi dracoi is offline
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Maybe I'm somewhere in between. As I'm reading for most purposes, my internal voice starts saying each word, but I don't finish them because I can read faster than I can think the sounds.

(So that post might sound like "May I'm som in betw. As I'm ree, for mos purpo my int voi start say ee wor, bu I don fini them beca I can read fas than I can thi the sou.")

I would focus on doing more reading rather than trying unusual tricks.
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  #11  
Old 10-20-2009, 02:26 AM
Zoe Zoe is offline
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Quote:
aawilson: Sometimes I read while moving my mouth really fast.
Your lips still can't go as fast as your brain. To discourage the lip-moving habit, place a pencil between your teeth while you are reading.

Sometimes I will move my fingertip at a fast pace under the line that I am reading. I think speed readers stay closer to the center of the page.
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  #12  
Old 10-20-2009, 02:26 AM
ShibbOleth ShibbOleth is offline
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I read slowly. I hear every word in my head - not really sounding out, like a word I don't know, but just as if I'm narrating in my head. On top of this, I also visually imagine everything I read and even stop and think about what I'm reading. So I'm always amazed when I read here about someone knocking out a 300 page book in an hour or two. Same sized book will take me 6-8 hours to read, minimum.


ETA: my comprehension, however, is fricking fantastic.

Last edited by ShibbOleth; 10-20-2009 at 02:27 AM..
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  #13  
Old 10-20-2009, 02:27 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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No, I couldn't read half so much if I sounded out each word in my head, although I sometimes subvocalize deliberately when reading Shakespeare, Milton, etc, just to roll those magnificent cadences round my tongue.

Interestingly it had been thought that silent reading was practically unknown in the ancient world and worthy of remark when men were capable of it, the 'evidence' for this depending mainly on a single passage in Augustine of Hippo. Modern scholarship, however, disputes this.

Quote:
.......... scholarly debate on ancient reading has largely revolved around the question “Did the ancient Greeks and Romans read aloud or silently?” Given the recent work of Gavrilov and Burnyeat, which has set the debate on new, seemingly firmer, footing, the question is at first glance easily answered.1 Without hesitation we can now assert that there was no cognitive difficulty when fully literate ancient readers wished to read silently to themselves, and that the cognitive act of silent reading was neither extraordinary nor noticeably unusual in antiquity.
Link to summary of article
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  #14  
Old 10-20-2009, 04:05 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Originally Posted by aldiboronti View Post
Interestingly it had been thought that silent reading was practically unknown in the ancient world and worthy of remark when men were capable of it, the 'evidence' for this depending mainly on a single passage in Augustine of Hippo. Modern scholarship, however, disputes this.
I thought that the remarkable thing was having the books, time, privacy, status... to read for yourself. Those who couldn't (specially those who could read but only did so for strictly-practical puposes) had reactions similar to those of my no-books-at-home classmates when they came to the houses of the several-thousand-books-at-home crowd. The notion of nobody ever having been mentally able to read with his mouth closed until Gutenberg came along seems quite absurd.

Last edited by Nava; 10-20-2009 at 04:06 AM..
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  #15  
Old 10-20-2009, 05:16 AM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Regallag_The_Axe View Post
I'm sorry that I don't have any tips for you, but I'm not sure about your assertion that most people do it that way.
I hear the words in my head if I'm reading slowly and carefully, not otherwise. It's appropriate for some things (e.g. poetry), not for others (e.g. Dan Brown).

The only advice I can give, as to how to learn to read without hearing, is to practice by reading things that you find so interesting or exciting (or maybe, so boring) that you want to get through them as quickly as you can.
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  #16  
Old 10-20-2009, 06:20 AM
CutterJohn CutterJohn is offline
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If i'm really getting into a good book, there will be times that not only do i not sound out the words, i will forget I'm actually reading.. Its as if there is a little movie playing in my head.

The downside to this is that imagination fills in many of the gaps i missed, and imagination is less reliable. I will remember reading things that didn't actually happen, or the mental picture of a person or place will be completely different than what was written down, which can cause confusion if that trivia is referred to later on.
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  #17  
Old 10-20-2009, 06:53 AM
Hi Medlo Hi Medlo is offline
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I used to sort and carry mail for a living. I was not a particularly fast sorter, sometimes found myself going very quickly without conciously 'saying' the names or addresses in my head, just seeing and putting it in the correct slot.
It turned out to be very accurate, too, but was somehow frightening to me!
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  #18  
Old 10-20-2009, 08:52 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is online now
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I didn't know other adults did this until I had this big to-do with the boyfriend who didn't believe me when I said I don't hear the words. Of course I don't hear the words - I'm reading.
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  #19  
Old 10-20-2009, 10:26 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShibbOleth View Post
I read slowly. I hear every word in my head - not really sounding out, like a word I don't know, but just as if I'm narrating in my head. On top of this, I also visually imagine everything I read and even stop and think about what I'm reading. So I'm always amazed when I read here about someone knocking out a 300 page book in an hour or two. Same sized book will take me 6-8 hours to read, minimum.

ETA: my comprehension, however, is fricking fantastic.
Same here. Never felt like I was reading too slow, though. Sometimes, that in-head narration is really fast, if not John Moschitta fast .
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  #20  
Old 10-20-2009, 11:22 AM
cgg419 cgg419 is offline
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Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
Maybe I'm somewhere in between. As I'm reading for most purposes, my internal voice starts saying each word, but I don't finish them because I can read faster than I can think the sounds.

(So that post might sound like "May I'm som in betw. As I'm ree, for mos purpo my int voi start say ee wor, bu I don fini them beca I can read fas than I can thi the sou.")
Couldn't have said it better
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  #21  
Old 10-20-2009, 11:46 AM
Ann Hedonia Ann Hedonia is online now
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Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
I didn't know other adults did this until I had this big to-do with the boyfriend who didn't believe me when I said I don't hear the words. Of course I don't hear the words - I'm reading.
Oh, same here.

I'm not really aware of even reading each word, that happens on autopilot,similar to walking or driving.
And I don't read one word at a time, I absorb sections all at once.

While I am reading my mind is either analyzing the content, exploring the concepts or, in the case of fiction, imagining the story.
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  #22  
Old 10-20-2009, 11:55 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Whether you sound the words in your head appears to be innate and just one more variable among people. It doesn't necessarily correlate to slow reading speed. I'm the fastest reader I know - I've read mysteries at a rate of two pages a minute regularly and I've hit three - and yet I sound out the words. I'm sounding them out now as I type.

Why not just try a speed reading course?
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  #23  
Old 10-20-2009, 12:42 PM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
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I agree that most people sound out words in their heads. I'm a very fast reader and I know even I do it; it's so fast though that it's unconscious and I never noticed. How I noticed? When I read Hindi, I am slowed down because I do have to sound out words in my head, and I am not as familiar with the "shape" of words in Hindi as I am in English.
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  #24  
Old 10-20-2009, 01:00 PM
Eleanor of Aquitaine Eleanor of Aquitaine is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Whether you sound the words in your head appears to be innate and just one more variable among people. It doesn't necessarily correlate to slow reading speed. I'm the fastest reader I know - I've read mysteries at a rate of two pages a minute regularly and I've hit three - and yet I sound out the words. I'm sounding them out now as I type.
I sound out words when I'm typing, but not when I'm reading a novel. I don't hear the words at all, and I was also surprised to find out that other people do.
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  #25  
Old 10-20-2009, 02:04 PM
janeslogin janeslogin is offline
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I read a lot. If I don't sound out words in my brain then my brain wanders and I get to thinking of something else, I skip things and loose my place.
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  #26  
Old 10-22-2009, 04:42 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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Originally Posted by TimeWinder View Post
Gah! I don't usually mentally sound out words when reading, but now that you mentioned it I can't stop doing it -- I've read this entire thread hearing all the words in my head.
Urrgh... Ditto. What have you dddoooonnneee??
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  #27  
Old 10-22-2009, 08:15 PM
missouri65 missouri65 is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Whether you sound the words in your head appears to be innate and just one more variable among people. It doesn't necessarily correlate to slow reading speed. I'm the fastest reader I know - I've read mysteries at a rate of two pages a minute regularly and I've hit three - and yet I sound out the words. I'm sounding them out now as I type.
Same here. In fact, I didn't know that people regularly read in any other way. I knew speed reading teaches it, but not that people actually do it naturally.


For those of you who don't sound out the words, how do you think? My thoughts take the form of an internal narrative. Every thought I have is in the form of words. I thought everyone was like this until a couple of years ago when I found out some people don't think in words at all. After reading this thread, I wonder if the two are related.
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  #28  
Old 10-22-2009, 09:28 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Some of my thinking is in words, but probably just as much is spatial, and (being a scientist) a fair chunk is numerical.
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  #29  
Old 10-22-2009, 09:33 PM
ToeJam ToeJam is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Some of my thinking is in words, but probably just as much is spatial, and (being a scientist) a fair chunk is numerical.
Very cool. As I discovered back in college or so, that apparently most of my thinking is verbal- I have an internal narrator saying everything and even when reading images or fiction i tend to just have words of descriptors rather than colors or scenes played out in my head. I was very surprised to find out not everyone else thinks this way!

And I also consider myself a scientist-y sort of person though I do enjoy Verbal tasks more than numerical or spatial, but I'm not bad at either of those.
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  #30  
Old 10-23-2009, 12:07 PM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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I hear fine, but mostly I don't sound out words as I read. I am a very fast reader, but have a really hard time reading out loud: I read each sentence mentally probably 3-4 times while I am speaking it, and tend to lose my place a lot. When reading on a unfamiliar subject with jargon that is new to me, I often won't even consider how to pronounce the words....which can be embarrassing when I later try to discuss what I read with an expert.
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