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More On Silent Reading

Quotes I just cannot leave alone from the couldn’t-have-said-it-better-myself-page:

“Reading aloud creates an identification between the writer and the reader.  The reader is a speaker, the writer’s mouthpiece….  Silent reading creates a different relationship between writer and reader.  Instead of identifying with the writer as a speaker of his or her words, the reader becomes an (internal) hearer of the writer’s words.  So the move from reading aloud to reading silently involves a move from reading as speaking to reading as hearing… an imaginary conversation between writer and reader.  This is a radical change in the orientation of both writer and reader to the text.” (Jajdelska, 1997, p.6)

“[T]he notion of the reader as hearer might best be understood through introspection – by inspection of ourselves while reading silently.  To the outside observer, there is little or no way in which to discern what the reader feels about the text.  The encounter between the imagined speaking voice of the text and the listening reader is taking place internally.” (Jajdelska, 1997, p.8 )

“[W]ith silent reading the reader was at last able to establish an unrestricted relationship with the book and the words.  The words no longer needed to occupy the time required to pronounce them.  They could exist… fully deciphered or only half-said, while the reader’s thoughts inspected them at leisure, drawing new notions from them, allowing comparisons from memory or from other books left open for simultaneous perusal.” (Manguel, 1998, pp. 50-51)

“[S]ometimes people read silently when they are concentrating hard, because voicing the words is a distraction to thought.” (Ptolemy, On the criterion, as cited in Manguel, 1998, p. 43)

“‘Letters have the power to convey to us silently the sayings of those who are absent.’“ (Isidore of Seville, Etymologies, as cited in Manguel, 1998, p. 49)

Books’ “‘communications are not to be given or taken with the lips and the end of the tongue, but out of the glow of the cheek, and with throbbing heart.’ In silence.” (Emerson, as cited by Manguel, 1998, p. 53)


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