Silent Reading, in English

Beginnings of a collection of evidence, none the final word, all clues:

[Melissa/nnylnell posted at]
Just a historical note: One thing that most people don't know is that silent reading is actually a relatively recent phenomenon -- until the middle ages most people read aloud when they read. There's a really interesting article about it here:
THE SILENT READERS, by Alberto Manguel

(backup in case the first link fails someday)

On this site, years before, I had deposited an older story about English, hoping for corroboration; data point only, still.

English--oddities, trivia and mysteries

Are you moving your lips when you read?

A friend of mine told me a story once I thought would surely "come across my desk" one way or another, but it hasn't, and I've waited 25 years (and looked, some). He said that a Roman soldier during the occupation of Britain wrote in a journal that when the Britons read, they didn't move their lips.

The idea stuck with me, because it means the Romans (he and Romans he had noticed) DID move their lips, or read aloud, perhaps.

It's easy to blame the Norman Conquest in 1066 for English's overflowing vocabulary. We kept French words AND their English equivalents, by the thousands. Words were lost and abandoned from both sets, but English has more words than any other language, I've heard. And in reading English, as you're all aware, we have tons of homonyms, such as the "their/there/they're" set.

Phonics isn't a great tool to use for learning to read English. And learning to read English isn't the same as learning to sound out English anyway. I have a theory (moving toward belief) that written English is a visual language. And maybe it's not just because of the French ruling for so long, and maybe it's not just because of the Catholic church's layers of Latin in song, story and court of law.

Maybe English has been and is still a language to read without moving one's lips.

So I'm hoping someone who's needing a topic for a thesis or a dissertation will find those answers and send them to me. Thanks in advance, all o'ya'll!

2023 note:

I still hope to find that in a near-primary source, not from a stoner professor at a party. I've thought about it all those years, about what might've been read, or seen, and I now think both people were reading Latin, but the native Brit could do it silently.

He couldn't have been reading *English,* and there was no writing system yet for whatever Celtic or Gaelic might've been spoken pre-Roman-occupation.

IF Latin was the language of commerce and of sharing of political announcements, legal records, religion, medicine—I don't know what might've been available to read then—it makes sense that non-Romans wouldn't bother to sound it out, but would "read for content."

I like my theory, now.

That party was in 1980 or so. I would say I'll think about it for another 43 years, but I won't live that long, so I hope people who come by here will carry the thoughts on (or maybe have that reference and more info).

English--oddities, trivia and mysteries

Book Worship

Some History of Books
       Site Search