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(Mental Floss)   Graph showing which countries read the most. America: TL;DR   (mentalfloss.com ) divider line
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9005 clicks; posted to Main » on 04 Mar 2014 at 1:35 PM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-03-04 02:14:44 PM  
It would be just as interesting to see what they were reading. I would suspect that most of the top readers were mostly reading religious texts.
 
2014-03-04 02:14:50 PM  

almandot: I'm a bit surprised about the UK and Japan being at the bottom. Is that really accurate?


Have you ever tried reading Japanese?  It's almost impossible to believe that there are still many cultures who's written word is essentially a bunch of little drawings.

Interesting story:
My son had a friend over once.  His name is Truman.  But, clearly that is not his real name, as he is from Vietnam, and we simply couldn't pronounce his real name.  I happened to have a bottle of Vietnamese hot sauce out.  I asked him if he could read the writing on it.  His response was, "In Vietnam, they don't teach you to read.  So I have no more idea what it says than you do ."

Needless to say, I thought that kinda disturbing.

It was also very interesting watching him talk with his father.  His father speaks very little English.  The kid would speak to us, and his father, without missing a beat.  I don't even think he realized he was speaking a different language.
 
2014-03-04 02:26:33 PM  

durbnpoisn: The kid would speak to us, and his father, without missing a beat. I don't even think he realized he was speaking a different language.


There's a point where language becomes reflexive enough that you stop thinking about it very much. Most of the time, I can't really tell you what language I used with my family a few minutes before. With most people, I kind of automatically speak in the language of my listener. (I'm not really aware of doing it either. It tends to drive call center and drive-through folks a bit batty, considering their rules say they're supposed to speak in _my_ preferred language. :) )
 
2014-03-04 02:27:55 PM  

yakmans_dad: anuran: yakmans_dad: The greatest American novel, the greatest French novel, and the greatest Spanish novel are all about the destructive nature of reading.

Go figure.

For some very odd values of "greatest". To which ones were you referring?

Huck Finn, Madame Bovary, and Don Quixote


More like Gravity's Rainbow, The Stranger, and 100 Years of Solitude.
 
2014-03-04 02:32:21 PM  
Given that India is at the top of the list I think its fair to say that there is little-to-no correlation between hours spent reading and quality of life.
 
2014-03-04 02:40:27 PM  

yakmans_dad: anuran: yakmans_dad: The greatest American novel, the greatest French novel, and the greatest Spanish novel are all about the destructive nature of reading.

Go figure.

For some very odd values of "greatest". To which ones were you referring?

Huck Finn, Madame Bovary, and Don Quixote


Ah, then we disagree on at least two out of three on the list. And the only reason Don Quixote belongs on there is for historical reasons.
 
2014-03-04 02:41:38 PM  

DubtodaIll: Gravity's Rainbow, The Stranger, and 100 Years of Solitude.


img4.wikia.nocookie.net

Don't try to turn this thread about illiterates into your own literature hipster litterbox.
 
2014-03-04 02:44:34 PM  

macadamnut: DubtodaIll: Gravity's Rainbow, The Stranger, and 100 Years of Solitude.

[img4.wikia.nocookie.net image 576x384]

Don't try to turn this thread about illiterates into your own literature hipster litterbox.


If there's something I've never been it's a hipster.
 
2014-03-04 02:46:16 PM  
Read what? The amount of time is relative to the context of the material. Also are we talking reading physical books? technically surfing the web is also reading because you are reading the contents (porn doesn;t count unless it's a porn story).

As to the ranking especially those in Islamic countries that is also debatable because in a lot of religious schools (and 90% are) and madrasahs, the kids are basically spending hours everyday reading rehashing quaranic verses etc over and over again. It's not like they're reading Shakespearean literature and encyclopedia Brittanica.
 
2014-03-04 02:46:23 PM  
durbnpoisn:
Have you ever tried reading Japanese?  It's almost impossible to believe that there are still many cultures who's written word is essentially a bunch of little drawings.

Oh, like something over a billion people in China? Why is it so hard to believe other countries aren't like us?

Interesting story:
My son had a friend over once.  His name is Truman.  But, clearly that is not his real name, as he is from Vietnam, and we simply couldn't pronounce his real name.  I happened to have a bottle of Vietnamese hot sauce out.  I asked him if he could read the writing on it.  His response was, "In Vietnam, they don't teach you to read.  So I have no more idea what it says than you do .
"

Bullshiat. According to the CIA World Factbook:
Literacy:
total population: 93.4%
male: 95.4%
female: 91.4% (2011 est.)


Needless to say, I thought that kinda disturbing.

It was also very interesting watching him talk with his father.  His father speaks very little English.  The kid would speak to us, and his father, without missing a beat.  I don't even think he realized he was speaking a different language.


What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual
What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual
What do you call someone who speaks one language? American
 
2014-03-04 02:46:49 PM  

DubtodaIll: macadamnut: DubtodaIll: Gravity's Rainbow, The Stranger, and 100 Years of Solitude.

[img4.wikia.nocookie.net image 576x384]

Don't try to turn this thread about illiterates into your own literature hipster litterbox.

If there's something I've never been it's a hipster.


That's exactly what a hipster would say
 
2014-03-04 02:47:56 PM  

DubtodaIll: macadamnut: DubtodaIll: Gravity's Rainbow, The Stranger, and 100 Years of Solitude.

[img4.wikia.nocookie.net image 576x384]

Don't try to turn this thread about illiterates into your own literature hipster litterbox.

If there's something I've never been it's a hipster.


To the Derp Brigade anyone who has heard of something they haven't is a hipster. Makes it easy to sneer at pretty much the whole world.
 
2014-03-04 02:48:34 PM  

meat0918: DubtodaIll: macadamnut: DubtodaIll: Gravity's Rainbow, The Stranger, and 100 Years of Solitude.

[img4.wikia.nocookie.net image 576x384]

Don't try to turn this thread about illiterates into your own literature hipster litterbox.

If there's something I've never been it's a hipster.

That's exactly what a hipster would say


Yeesh, there's a Catch-22 for you.
 
2014-03-04 02:51:12 PM  
Anyone who says the Internet is bad for reading is full of crap.  Ever since I got my tablet last year my reading rate has skyrocketed.  Hell, I'm on Pirate Bay 3-4 times a week downloading new ebooks.  And not just international porn mags, but NY Times bestsellers and shiat.
 
2014-03-04 02:51:24 PM  
List looks suspect. I believe in many countries they're measuring "hours spent reading per literate person" not "hours spent reading per person." Or perhaps only literate people in each country responded to the invitation to participate in the study.

Adding the literacy % (from the CIA World Factbook) for the countries who top the Mental Floss list:

1. India - 10 hours, 42 minutes (62.8% literate)
2. Thailand - 9:24 (93.5%)
3. China - 8:00 (95.1%)
4. Philippines - 7:36 (95.4%)
5. Egypt - 7:30 (73.9%)
6. Czech Republic - 7:24 (99%)
7. Russia - 7:06 (99.7%)
8. Sweden - 6:54 (99%)
8. France - 6:54 (99%)
10. Hungary - 6:48 (99%)
10. Saudi Arabia - 6:48 (87.2%)
12. Hong Kong - 6:42 (93.5%)
...
20. Canada - 5:48 (99%)
22. Germany - 5:42 (99%)
22. USA - 5:42 (99%)

In order for India to read 10 hours 42 minutes on average, each literate person would have to average 17 hours (642 minutes/.628). Possible, yes, but considering how much of an outlier that would make India, I suspect a more reasonable explanation would be that there was a fair amount of non-reporting bias, especially in countries with high amounts if illiteracy.
 
2014-03-04 02:54:38 PM  

durbnpoisn: almandot: I'm a bit surprised about the UK and Japan being at the bottom. Is that really accurate?

Have you ever tried reading Japanese?  It's almost impossible to believe that there are still many cultures who's written word is essentially a bunch of little drawings.

Interesting story:
My son had a friend over once.  His name is Truman.  But, clearly that is not his real name, as he is from Vietnam, and we simply couldn't pronounce his real name.  I happened to have a bottle of Vietnamese hot sauce out.  I asked him if he could read the writing on it.  His response was, "In Vietnam, they don't teach you to read.  So I have no more idea what it says than you do ."

Needless to say, I thought that kinda disturbing.

It was also very interesting watching him talk with his father.  His father speaks very little English.  The kid would speak to us, and his father, without missing a beat.  I don't even think he realized he was speaking a different language.


You may or may not be racist but you're definitely a very prejudice person.

I know maybe a dozen foreigners from various different countries and I can say w/o a doubt that every single one of them knows how to speak and read in their own native language. I don't see how or why Vietnam would be any different.

Your son's friend must be a real dumbass if he doesn't know how to read Vietname unless if he was born here or came here relatively young in which case you're the dumbass then for assuming every Vietnamese knows how to read Vietnamese even if they were born and raised in the United States.
 
2014-03-04 02:54:55 PM  

anuran: To the Derp Brigade anyone who has heard of something they haven't is a hipster. Makes it easy to sneer at pretty much the whole world.


What's the Derp Brigade?
 
2014-03-04 02:55:39 PM  

draypresct: List looks suspect. I believe in many countries they're measuring "hours spent reading per literate person" not "hours spent reading per person." Or perhaps only literate people in each country responded to the invitation to participate in the study.

Adding the literacy % (from the CIA World Factbook) for the countries who top the Mental Floss list:

1. India - 10 hours, 42 minutes (62.8% literate)
2. Thailand - 9:24 (93.5%)
3. China - 8:00 (95.1%)
4. Philippines - 7:36 (95.4%)
5. Egypt - 7:30 (73.9%)
6. Czech Republic - 7:24 (99%)
7. Russia - 7:06 (99.7%)
8. Sweden - 6:54 (99%)
8. France - 6:54 (99%)
10. Hungary - 6:48 (99%)
10. Saudi Arabia - 6:48 (87.2%)
12. Hong Kong - 6:42 (93.5%)
...
20. Canada - 5:48 (99%)
22. Germany - 5:42 (99%)
22. USA - 5:42 (99%)

In order for India to read 10 hours 42 minutes on average, each literate person would have to average 17 hours (642 minutes/.628). Possible, yes, but considering how much of an outlier that would make India, I suspect a more reasonable explanation would be that there was a fair amount of non-reporting bias, especially in countries with high amounts if illiteracy.


Irony, thy name is thou.
 
2014-03-04 02:55:49 PM  

dentalhilljack: Anyone who says the Internet is bad for reading is full of crap.  Ever since I got my tablet last year my reading rate has skyrocketed.  Hell, I'm on Pirate Bay 3-4 times a week downloading new ebooks.  And not just international porn mags, but NY Times bestsellers and shiat.


I think the survey they based this on would count that time as "time on the internet/computer, not related to work".
 
2014-03-04 02:57:12 PM  

INeedAName: draypresct: especially in countries with high amounts if illiteracy.

Irony, thy name is thou.


D'oh! Typo.
 
2014-03-04 02:59:22 PM  

weltallica: [i.imgur.com image 320x180]

This is what happens when you have an entire generation raised on online games and phone txt messages.  Anything over two sentences is, literally, tl;dr.


That has the virtue of being the most honest non-apology I've ever seen, and I've seen quite a lot of them, even if you only count articles Fark linked to.
 
2014-03-04 03:01:38 PM  
CSB?:

I read often normally but I'm on a big kick lately and it doesn't hurt I'm learning a bunch of new shiat for work and certifications.  I decided to try speed reading and have been working through the book by Peter Kump (Breakthrough Rapid Reading).  If anyone is interested, I'm seeing pretty awesome results after just a few weeks.  After I finish this one (6 weeks of drills) I'm gonna try another one (Triple Your Reading Speed: 4th Edition).  My reason for this is every year I do a good amount of reading but I buy more books too and my "to read" pile gets bigger, not smaller so I figure if I learn to read faster maybe I can turn the tide.  So far it's only inspired me to buy even more books so not exactly working as planned yet.

/CSB?
 
2014-03-04 03:03:24 PM  

LemSkroob: almandot: I'm a bit surprised about the UK and Japan being at the bottom. Is that really accurate?

Depends how they classify 'reading'


Does it exclude reading articles on the internet? on a tablet? then UK and Japan would be low, and china and india would be high (which is what is happening). The article, or the buried source link, doesn't define 'reading'.


They don't, but "reading" is a separate activity from "internet/computer use".  Which would indicate that reading anything online or on a computer is exempt from the "reading" category.
 
2014-03-04 03:05:46 PM  

weltallica: [i.imgur.com image 320x180]

This is what hap...


Sorry, you lost me.
 
2014-03-04 03:07:00 PM  

durbnpoisn: Have you ever tried reading Japanese?  It's almost impossible to believe that there are still many cultures who's written word is essentially a bunch of little drawings.


All written characters are little drawings.  Much like you don't sound out each letter of each word when you read (or do you?  I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt on that one), when reading Japanese you don't parse them as drawings.... you just read them.

Reading Japanese is no more difficult than reading English.  There is, however, a higher barrier to entry in that you have to learn far more characters to read effectively.  We can debate the benefits and drawbacks of that if you want, but your original argument is silly.
 
2014-03-04 03:08:49 PM  

meat0918: Barry Lyndon's Annuity Cheque: Reading books or like dicking around on the internet?

must be books


I was going to ask if reading Fark counted.
 
2014-03-04 03:09:28 PM  

DubtodaIll: meat0918: DubtodaIll: macadamnut: DubtodaIll: Gravity's Rainbow, The Stranger, and 100 Years of Solitude.

[img4.wikia.nocookie.net image 576x384]

Don't try to turn this thread about illiterates into your own literature hipster litterbox.

If there's something I've never been it's a hipster.

That's exactly what a hipster would say

Yeesh, there's a Catch-22 for you.


Horrible book.

jk, I haven't actually read it, I'm more of a sci-fi guy.
 
2014-03-04 03:19:30 PM  
They all just trying to learn English
 
2014-03-04 03:23:46 PM  
How much of that time was reading the Bible/Koran/Assorted Other Diety-Based Literature?
 
2014-03-04 03:25:41 PM  
SuperNinjaToad:
You may or may not be racist but you're definitely a very prejudice person.

I know maybe a dozen foreigners from various different countries and I can say w/o a doubt that every single one of them knows how to speak and read in their own native language. I don't see how or why Vietnam would be any different.


Put down the keyboard Ho Chi, it was an anecdote. You'll find that  people have personal stories that they often use in discussions as a way of moving the conversation forward by introducing new information.
 
2014-03-04 03:48:48 PM  
I would like to see if/how much that list would look different if the reading was broken down into categories:  religious, news, fiction, self-help, other non-fiction, etc.
 
2014-03-04 03:48:58 PM  

durbnpoisn: almandot: I'm a bit surprised about the UK and Japan being at the bottom. Is that really accurate?

Have you ever tried reading Japanese?  It's almost impossible to believe that there are still many cultures who's written word is essentially a bunch of little drawings.


There are a few advantage to using a writing system that doesn't try to capture how a word is pronounced.  For one thing, you don't have to argue which dialect is the correct one (think of words in English that are pronounced differently from one place to another, such as schedule --- should it be spelled "skedule" or "shedule"?).  If you want a phonetic alphabet you would have to constantly change the spelling of words as time went by and pronunciation shifted, or watch you alphabet become less and less phonetic over time.

Also, mutually unintelligible dialects like Mandarin and Cantonese can share the same writing system.

Granted, you can get most of this with an alphabet, too, so long as you don't try to make it phonetic.  English seems to be headed in that direction.
 
2014-03-04 03:55:52 PM  
Of course other countries spend more time reading... their languages are all weird with funny squiggles instead of good honest American letters.
 
2014-03-04 04:07:24 PM  

blatz514: Weatherkiss: Jason English? Is that his real name?

[whenyouputitthatway.com image 850x478]


Woah, he's got an Obama picture in the back. More time machine hijinx.
 
2014-03-04 04:13:13 PM  

anuran: What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual
What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual
What do you call someone who speaks one language? American


For extra irony, the joke works much better when you tell it in a language other than English, as in:

"What's the English word for someone who can speak two languages?"
"What's the English word for someone who can speak three languages?"
"What's the English word for someone who can only speak one language?"
 
2014-03-04 04:33:46 PM  
I'm skeptical.    How do they define "reading"?  Does reading online content count?  How about news articles or message boards (which can often be more informative than actual articles)?    How are they drawing their samples?  Are they representative of the population as a whole?  Most Indians are dirt poor and I doubt they have the money/resources to be reading more than everyone else in the world...
 
2014-03-04 04:57:25 PM  

macadamnut: anuran: To the Derp Brigade anyone who has heard of something they haven't is a hipster. Makes it easy to sneer at pretty much the whole world.

What's the Derp Brigade?


People who make fun of hipsters. You've probably never heard of them.
 
2014-03-04 05:02:40 PM  
I'm glad it was a color coded picture.
 
2014-03-04 05:32:55 PM  

DubtodaIll: meat0918: DubtodaIll: macadamnut: DubtodaIll: Gravity's Rainbow, The Stranger, and 100 Years of Solitude.

[img4.wikia.nocookie.net image 576x384]

Don't try to turn this thread about illiterates into your own literature hipster litterbox.

If there's something I've never been it's a hipster.

That's exactly what a hipster would say

Yeesh, there's a Catch-22 for you.


I was a hipster before it was cool.
 
2014-03-04 05:48:38 PM  
Do the articles in Hustler count?
 
2014-03-04 05:49:14 PM  

drumhellar: That ranking is bullshiat and obviously doesn't include the time Americans spend reading the guide to find out what to watch next on television.


Yea, and the labels on all the junk food in pantry.
 
2014-03-04 05:58:08 PM  
anuran:
What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual
What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual
What do you call someone who speaks one language? American


Sprechen Sie scheisskopf?
 
2014-03-04 06:02:56 PM  

Andric: durbnpoisn: Have you ever tried reading Japanese?  It's almost impossible to believe that there are still many cultures who's written word is essentially a bunch of little drawings.

All written characters are little drawings.  Much like you don't sound out each letter of each word when you read (or do you?  I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt on that one), when reading Japanese you don't parse them as drawings.... you just read them.

Reading Japanese is no more difficult than reading English.  There is, however, a higher barrier to entry in that you have to learn far more characters to read effectively.  We can debate the benefits and drawbacks of that if you want, but your original argument is silly.


Sure.  What are the benefits to a system like Japanese over, say, a non-phonetic alphabet?

I'm not a linguist and I don't know all the terms, but to my mind there's a useful distinction to be made between writing systems in which each word has its own unique character (such as Chinese) and those in which each word is built up from a fairly small number of building blocks (such as a  an abugida,alphabet, or abjad) -- basically a segmental script, except that, in theory at least, what I am talking about could be TOTALLY non-phonetic.  Like when digitizing a song into binary 1s and 0s, the correlation between the digits and the sounds are completely arbitrary.

As I wrote in an earlier post, there are disadvantages as well as advantages to making your writing system phonetic; but assuming we were talking only about writing systems that were not supposed to be phonetic at all, in what way is a non-segmental script superior to a segmental one?
 
2014-03-04 06:56:55 PM  

Pumpernickel bread: I'm skeptical.    How do they define "reading"?  Does reading online content count?  How about news articles or message boards (which can often be more informative than actual articles)?    How are they drawing their samples?  Are they representative of the population as a whole?  Most Indians are dirt poor and I doubt they have the money/resources to be reading more than everyone else in the world...


RTFA and follow the link. Radio, TV and non-work computer use were broken out separately.
 
2014-03-04 07:02:07 PM  

draypresct: In order for India to read 10 hours 42 minutes on average, each literate person would have to average 17 hours (642 minutes/.628). Possible, yes, but considering how much of an outlier that would make India, I suspect a more reasonable explanation would be that there was a fair amount of non-reporting bias, especially in countries with high amounts if illiteracy.


Nonsense, India would never embellish anything or misrepresent facts.
 
2014-03-04 07:24:14 PM  
Subby wrote  graph when I think he meant  map.But then maybe I read too much.
 
2014-03-04 07:25:53 PM  

jmsvrsn: Subby wrote  graph when I think he meant  map.


What does he know, he is not a cartomapper.
 
2014-03-04 07:52:51 PM  

jmsvrsn: Subby wrote  graph when I think he meant  map.But then maybe I read too much.


It is a graph...a cartograph.
 
2014-03-04 08:04:11 PM  

MooseUpNorth: durbnpoisn: The kid would speak to us, and his father, without missing a beat. I don't even think he realized he was speaking a different language.

There's a point where language becomes reflexive enough that you stop thinking about it very much. Most of the time, I can't really tell you what language I used with my family a few minutes before. With most people, I kind of automatically speak in the language of my listener. (I'm not really aware of doing it either. It tends to drive call center and drive-through folks a bit batty, considering their rules say they're supposed to speak in _my_ preferred language. :) )


Many years ago, my now fiancee and her mom came up here (from Mexico) to the states to look at grad schools.  She didn't want her mom know she was dating a gringo (especially a non-Catholic).  They were sharing a hotel room when the next day her Mom asked her why she was talking in English in her sleep (her mom doesn't speak English).  My gf had no idea she was speaking English (in her sleep).
 
2014-03-04 08:25:28 PM  
I suspect the figures on reading are based on books only. In addition to having a lof electronic gadgets, the British and Japanese are, IIRC, very big on reading daily newspapers. Disposable paper tablets that have news and infotainment in them. An ordinary newspaper can contain 10,000 words, and if you read just one a day, you are occupied for an hour or so.

I expect that Chinese, Japanese and many Indian languages are so much harder to read that fewer people read for pleasure or information. Also, a lot of people would be functionally illiterate or too poor to buy books in China and India, while those who can buy books in Japan are reading manga or on a tablet.

I notice that it is mainly Old World countries that read a lot of books, while new world countries read fewer.
 
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