How fast do people talk, how fast do they read?

I just responded to a post in the BBQ pit in which I asserted that most people talk far faster than they can read. I realized (After posting of course) that while I believe my statment to be true, it was based on my own experience and I have no cite, no proof. Nada, Zero, Zip, Bupkiss, the big goose egg. Personal observances tend to hold little water in these learned halls. Anyone out there able to help be out before I get shredded in the pit? (I know, what was I doing there to begin with?). Is there a study somewhere comparing the speaking rate vs the reading rate of the mythical average person?

I read much faster than I talk.

Semi-related, I’m curious how fast one can dream. I’ve nodded off occasionally, slipped into REM sleep and experienced what seemed subjectively at least twenty minutes long (i.e. a dream sequence that felt nearly as long as a 30-minute television broadcast), only to jerk myself awake and find barely five minutes have passed.

In any case, the speak/read thing can’t be a difficult thing to test - get a stopwatch and read a passage of text. Then recite it out loud at what feels like a natural speaking pace, and compare.

My Googling failed to produce anything definitive, but does suggest that typical speaking speeds are 125 to 200 words per minute, whereas reading speeds can be double that. Speed reading seems to range well above 500 wpm.

I use books on tape and have found it beneficial to modify a cassette player to increase speaking speed - you quickly get used to the high-pitched voice, and appreciate the faster transfer of information. Having done this, it can be quite frustrating to listen to a book at normal speaking speed.

I’m curious as to why you’d come up with that conclusion. Although I have no more proof than the OP, I would guess that any average high-school or college-educated person would read much faster than they speak. Reading has always seemed to be the most rapid, broadband way of getting information into my brain.

When I was in the TV business, the rule of thumb was that your average news-reader spoke about six syllables per second. They’re trained to speak clearly and annunciate, so your average teenager probably talks a bit faster than that. I was pretty surprised the first time I heard that, until I looked at a clock and started timing it. A second is longer than I thought.

ETA: I can also read a great deal faster than I talk, and I am a pretty slow reader.

Definitely read faster than I can speak. When I read, I don’t really “read” every word. I can just scan sentences and get the gist of the writing. This is just the difference between the speed of think vs. speak, and think wins. I suppose that this is true for most people.

This talking wouldn’t be natural, because the brain is trying to recall the passage. When people normally talk, they don’t have a passage bogging them down.

I think it depends on the reading material, the reader’s background knowledge and reason for reading. If you’re trying to decode some indepth technical reading that you’re not familiar with, obviously your reading will slow down.

Same with talking/listening, though. If someone is trying it explain something complex, it takes longer than chit-chat.

It won’t help this question at all for us to all relay our own reading and speaking speeds, because Dopers (and Internet users in general) are probably self-selected to read faster than the average. We’re looking for the average figures, which means including all the non-Dopers in the mix, as well.

Depends on the person I think. Some people have a very slow, relaxed style of speech.

The only way to answer this question is to picture a set of bell-shaped curves.

One would be of how fast people speak in normal language. Another would be how fast people read a certain text.

The modal line (peak of the curve) would be higher for reading than for speaking assuming average-difficulty text. So would the tailing edge of the reading curve. Google “fastest talker in the world” and you come up with Fran Capo.

That’s probably three times faster than the fastest talker you’ve ever been around and I doubt if anyone would find that intelligible.

Yet 600 wpm is nothing for a speedy reader. My normal reading speed is faster than that and I’ve finished 300 page novels in 100 minutes, putting my peak at over 1200 wpm. I do, BTW, read every single word. I never scan. (Nor am I a speed reader, since they are taught to scan. I’m a writer and the thought of missing a word someone wrote is abhorrent.)

The peak of the curves will certainly vary for different materials. A technical or academic text will slow down even the speediest of readers. But it will slow down talkers just as much if not more. Other specialized material will equally cause variations, from slang to jargon to leet speak. Overall, however, the general pattern will be reading is fastest, talking is slower, and typing is slowest of all.

seenidog, you’re screwed. :slight_smile:

think of the word say, “television”. assuming the person is fluent with both the written and spoken form, it’s certainly faster to look at it than to say it out loud.

Anecdotally (what else?) - I talk pretty fast, but there’s no way I could talk as fast as I can read - I just tried it and it feels exactly like when you can’t move your lips to speak on a really cold day - I just can’t command my flesh to move that precisely, that fast (I can make disordered vocal sounds of approximately equivalent speed to my reading, but can’t talk coherently)

I’ve heard it said (although I don’t know how it was concluded) that we don’t necessarily experience dreams in proper sequential order, but rather, we’re bombarded with a melange of impressions, memories, thoughts and so on, which our brains organise into a semi-coherent memory as we awaken - so we wake with the memories representing a subjectively long experience, when in fact we might not have experienced it in that actual form (a bit like the movie Total Recall - or the book on which it was based, if you prefer - where you don’t have the time or money for a three week holiday, so you just buy the memory of one - after it’s implanted, you can’t tell it from the real thing).

I have been reading some of the replies above and then going back and saying them aloud. It isn’t scientific enough to give rates for each but I do know that I can read some multiple faster than I can say the same thing.

**Exapno Mapcase ** stated

Yeah I gathered that. As per the suggestion of another poster I got out the old stopwatch and did some old fashioned testing. Taking random pages from a book lying around, I timed how long it took me to read a page, then how long it took me to read the following page to my wife. Even speaking at an abnormally fast rate that made me almost unintelligable (In my wife’s opinion) the results were my reading speed easily doubled that of speaking. I was way off on this one. My wife’s suggestion was this proves what she has been saying for years, I am at my best when I keep my mouth shut. Thanks to all for setting me straight.

I agree that reading is much faster, but you’re not comparing apples to apples here. Reading a message is a lot different than making one up. Try making up a passage just through regular conversation and timing how long it takes to say it. THEN read it.

Ideally, you’d want a passage you made up and a paragraph that’s different but the same length. How you’d do an armchair experiment w/ that is difficult. How would you know when you’ve spoken long enough?

What a weird stat. How do you deterine what “.32” of a word is? And why 54.2 seconds? Did she start a word and then not finish it?