RE: Reading and Editing

Subject: RE: Reading and Editing
From: Brian Hoskins <Brian -dot- Hoskins -at- oz -dot- quest -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 09:19:57 +1000

I suspect that much of the problem of hearing or seeing what you write goes
back to the way one thinks. I vaguely remember reading once that about two
thirds of the population think primarily in sight images while one third
think in sound images. I know that I fall in the latter group. I hear the
words as I read, write or just plain think.

One problem 'sound' thinking can create is that of poor spelling. Many
children must go through school thinking they are unintelligent because they
have problems with English spelling that is not phonetic. Think of the
number of words with the indeterminate vowel sound in. For example, the
suffix 'ble, could be "able", "ible" or even "eble" but is pronounced the
same way. How does a 'sound' thinker know which to use? There are many other
such word problems.

Of course, it is probable that there are many shades between pure 'sight'
and pure 'sound' thinkers and the ideal writer should have a bit of both.
The ability to hear the flow of the words is important but the ability to
see the correct spelling also helps, even in these days of spelling

Personally, I seem to fall into the strongly 'sound' type of thinking. At
school I was the one considered stupid because I couldn't spell even though
my grades in everything else were good. Since school, I have had four
careers as a physics teacher, as a programmer, as a software manager and now
as a technical writer. I think the teachers who were always telling me that
I was useless because I could not spell would be surprised at my last
career. The use of a word processor with spelling checker liberated me from
their malign influence. It frightens me to think what effect I may have had
on young minds in my twenty years of teaching.

One illustration of the 'sound' type of thinking in me is a musical one. I
both sing and play the piano. While I can quickly and easily learn music to
sing, even with my present aging and somewhat cluttered brain, I find it
near impossible to learn piano music. The latter requires both the aural and
visual modes of thought as you have to be able to visualize the printed
music as well as hear it, to play it properly. Singing is purely aural. You
have to hear both word and music. It does not matter that you don't
understand the words, their sound is what matters. I currently sing a lot in
Welsh. I understand only a few of the words but I am told by Welsh speakers
that my accent is very close to that of a native speaker. This again is a
'sound' thinking phenomenon.

Oh yes, the spelling checker found one misspelling and a couple of genuine
typos in this email.



Brian Hoskins
Senior Technical Writer
Quest Software http: //
2/293 Camberwell Rd, Camberwell 3124
Phone: +61 3 9811 8061 Fax: +61 3 9811 8099


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