Which is the most challenging language to read?

New research from the University of Haifa in Israel suggests that reading in Arabic is more challenging than reading in English or in Hebrew.

“It emerges that the contribution of the two halves of the brain to processing written language depends on the graphic and linguistic structure of these languages,” says Dr. Raphiq Ibrahim from the Learning Disabilities Department, one of two researchers involved in the study.

Each side of the brain, which are referred to as cerebral hemispheres, is responsible for different functions within language interpretation. The left side processes verbal messages, grammar and literal translation, whereas the right side functions to process spatial tasks such as contextualisation.

The results of the study show that for readers of Hebrew and English, both sides of the brain are independently involved in the task of reading. For readers of Arabic, it was found that the right side of the brain was not able to function independently of the left side.

Further information on the study can be found here.

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