Functional illiteracy?

Different by culture?

Apparently so. A new study in Scientific American talks about the difference between dyslexia in America and China:

English speakers who have developmental dyslexia usually don’t have trouble recognizing letters visually, but rather just have a hard time connecting them to their sounds.

What about languages based on full-word characters rather than sound-carrying letters? Researchers looking at the brains of dyslexic Chinese children have discovered that the disorder in that language often stems from two separate, independent problems: sound and visual perception.

The pronunciation of detailed and complex Chinese characters must be memorized, rather than sounded out like words in alphabet-based languages. That requirement led researchers to suspect that disabilities in the visual realm might come into play in dyslexia in that language. “A fine-grained visuospatial analysis must be preformed by the visual system in order to activate the characters’ phonological and semantic information,” said lead author Wai Ting Siok of the University of Hong Kong, in a prepared statement.