Say what?

February 3, 2006

I am fascinated by research claiming that millions of people in developed countries are not literate; there has usually been some fancy footwork to get to the shockingly high figures. Your report of 7 million non-literate people in the US was no exception ("US alarm over poor literacy", January ). To define non-literate as meaning that "the interviewers could not communicate with them in English" stands out as the most bizarre definition of literate I have come across in 20 years of collecting these crazy news stories.

David Barton
Lancaster University

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