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However, this progress in gathering facts about reading and its constituent factors has not been complemented by a similar theoretical progress that pulls together the observed facts.
Finally, drawing from Wittgenstein, the concept of “language games” is outlined as an approach to language use that can be operationalized scientifically to provide a new foundation for reading research.
Reading is a “culturally cognitive” phenomenon that sets humans apart from other intelligent creatures.
Theoretically, reading is interesting because it is a learned practice that incorporates many human capacities; from basic processes of visual perception to abstract cognitive skills such as reasoning, imagination, and creativity.
The ability to read and comprehend texts has become a key necessity for participation in contemporary society: it is a prerequisite for all forms of higher education (Rindermann and Ceci, 2009), and has direct consequences for health and life expectancy (Pignone and De Walt, 2006).
The empirical study of reading dates back more than 125 years.But despite this long tradition, the scientific understanding of reading has made rather heterogeneous progress: many factors that influence the process of text reading have been uncovered, but theoretical explanations remain fragmented; no general theory pulls together the diverse findings.In this article, I suggest that the observed heterogeneity in the research is due to misguided conceptions about the reading process.Particularly problematic are the unrefined notions about meaning which undergird many reading theories: most psychological theories of reading implicitly assume a kind of elemental token semantics, where words serve as stable units of meaning in a text.
This conception of meaning creates major conceptual problems.As an alternative, I argue that reading shoud be rather understood as a form of language use, which circumvents many of the conceptual problems and connects reading to a wider range of linguistic communication.