According to Wikipedia, between 5 and 10 percent of people are believed to be dyslexic. Dyslexia is a frustrating neurological disorder that affects its victims’ ability to process written language. Dyslexic patients have normal and even high levels of intelligence, but they nonetheless have difficulty reading and writing.
Dyslexia is found across the world, but the manner in which it is expressed and the type of difficulties it produces depend in part on the language the person is trying to learn to read and write. As Wikipedia explains:
“Because different writing systems require different parts of the brain to process the visual notation of speech, children with reading problems in one language might not have a reading problem in a language with a different orthography.”
But can learning another language help English-speaking patients improve their ability to read and write in English? The experience of one man from Milton Keynes suggests that it can.
According to the BBC, Jonathon Brown (from Furzton, near Milton Keynes) gained the ability to cope more effectively with his dyslexia by translating Klingon, of all things. Brown, a member of the Klingon Language Institute, was deeply involved in the translations used to create a series of CD-Roms for Klingon language learners. The CD is called Talk Now Klingon and is avaliable from Eurotalk.
As Brown explained to the BBC, what started out as a hobby quickly turned into therapy for him:
“Dyslexia is not something you get over, you live with it. It’s not necessarily a hindrance, you just learn different ways to pick things up. Working on the translation has helped me understand where I’ve been having problems all my life with languages, I realised I’d been trying to remember the words in the name part of my brain and because I can’t remember names, I can’t remember the words. With the Klingon language games used on the CD, I tended to put words into a different place and it went into my long term memory.”
It probably helped that Klingon, as alien as it sounds, is actually much simpler to learn than English. In fact, Mr. Brown himself called it “straightforward.” Non-Trekkie dyslexic individuals might try to learn Spanish, Italian or Finnish instead.