February 19, 2013


Imagine being completely illiterate. The words on your computer screen are incomprehensible squiggles. Not understanding words is difficult to fathom for those of us who've been reading for a long time. Many of us think of not being able to read books or magazines—but it goes a bit further than that.

If you've ever traveled to a foreign country, you know that illiteracy is a much bigger problem when you're walking around in public. Even if you study the native language to prepare for your trip, there are bound to be phrases, slogans, or other pieces of text that you don't understand. I can't imagine traveling to places like China and Japan, where the characters themselves are very far from what I know.

This photo, for example, proves that words are a lot more prevalent in our society than we usually notice:

All text has been removed from the photo at the left, and placed on the right in the same general location and font as in the photo.

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