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Does dyslexia exist in writing systems like Japanese and Chinese? © Getty Images

Does dyslexia exist in writing systems like Japanese and Chinese?

Published: 10th April, 2022 at 11:00
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It's a common learning difficulty that can cause issues with reading, writing and spelling. But what about in different writing systems?

Chinese characters represent whole syllables, whereas Western languages use letters to represent phonemes (the individual sounds that make up each syllable). Japanese has several different character sets that combine elements of both systems.


Dyslexia is less common among Chinese speakers, but it definitely exists. However, a 2004 study at the University of Hong Kong used MRI scans to show that different regions of the brain were involved with the dyslexia of Chinese speakers versus English speakers. This suggests that dyslexia is not a single disorder and there are examples of people who are dyslexic in one language but not in another.

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Asked by: Andrea Leake, Southampton

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Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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