I've separated this discussion out of another thread... We make jokes about people who "move their lips while they read." We don't realize that Plato and Cicero surely read that way, and perhaps even Shakespeare and Cervantes. I'm curious about the rest of you, but... When I read to myself, my brain does not convert the written words directly into meaning. It converts them into spoken words, which it then runs silently through my speech center. When writing was first invented, what few accounts we have of the new technology indicate that people could only read written language by reciting it aloud. Even if they were not reading to others, they had to "read" to themselves. The written symbols had to be converted to aural symbols before they could be interpreted. Eventually they became able to read silently, but their mouths were still moving, a sign that the speech center was still in use. Remember that before the invention of the printing press and the spread of education to very young children, most people probably learned to read at a relatively late age. At an earlier age we seem to be able to bypass the speech apparatus and connect written words directly to the speech center without moving our lips. Speaking from experience, I think there's a threshold in there. I find that when I read languages that use a more or less unmodified Latin alphabet, even languages I don't know well, the sounds manifest silently in my brain, like English. But languages using alphabets I learned as a teenager or adult don't work the same way. I often notice myself muttering when I confront Yiddish, which uses the Hebrew alphabet, even though the spoken language is not quite so much of a struggle for me. Even more so for Russian and its Cyrillic alphabet, which I don't speak at all well. Even Czech and Polish, with their Latin alphabets augmented by a bewildering array of diacritical marks, sometimes coax me into reading aloud. I did not study any of those writing systems until I was about 15. Oddly, I read Chinese silently, even though I'm a beginner with kanji and didn't start to learn it until I was 26. Perhaps the completely unphonetic system breaks the link in my brain. I'm curious if everyone reads like I do, with spoken words forming in their brains. This discussion was kicked off by wondering whether anyone has learned to read Hebrew without bothering to get the vowels, which are not quite phonemic, usually have no impact on the meaning, and are not printed except in student or liturgical material. Or Chinese. I'm sure somebody out there has puzzled his way through the language without bothering to study the rather difficult phonetics. Are people reading languages with no obvious phonetic equivalents in a different way than we read our native languages? Without forming sounds? Direct from written symbol to meaning? That would be fascinating.