Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 15: 1–3, 2002. © 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands. ZVIA BREZNITZ & DAVID SHARE University of Haifa, Israel Reading acquisition in an alphabetic orthography is an activity lacking any evolutionary basis. The human brain evolved hundreds of thousands of years before orthography was discovered. An alphabetic orthography, in which orthographic symbols represent neither meaningful words, nor acoustically integral syllables, but abstract and meaningless units of speech (phonemes) is, understandably, only a recent cultural invention. Basic cerebral mechan- isms have evolved to deal with vision and spoken language but not ‘visible language’. The fact that the brain is not ‘wired’ for reading partly explains why reading does not come ‘naturally’ like speech or visual perception which both appear very early and universally in child development. This cultural ‘imposition’ on the brain makes learning to read an alphabetic orthography a challenge not only for young children but also for scientists seeking to understand what is surely one of the most complex human accomplishments. Yet despite these obstacles, the last several decades have witnessed major scientiﬁc advances in our understanding of the nature of reading acquisition and the causes of reading difﬁculty. It
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 13, 2004
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