What he means is that many Chinese characters are derivatives of other characters (ie the derivatives are not unique). If a character has, say five closely related characters, a vocabulary of 2,000 'unique characters' would give you access to a vocabulary of 10,000 characters. The same thing happens with English words. What concerned me about Diane McGuinness' book ‘Why children can't read' is that her argument for SP rests not only on data demonstrating its effectiveness, but also on pointing out flaws in the arguments put forward by people advocating other strategies. If her counter-arguments are themselves flawed, it weakens her case. I gave the ‘whole word limit' argument as an example of a statement she makes without any supporting evidence. There were many others in the book. There are clearly problems with learning to read using whole word recognition, but making unsubstantiated statements about it that readers have to take on trust, seems a less than satisfactory way of drawing attention to them. I know Prof. McGuinness is using her argument to make a point, not to start a debate about the size of people's vocabularies, but I felt she could havemade that point, and a number of others, in a way that was less open to challenge. I don't know why you still suspect me of advocating whole word recognition as method of learning to read. I've explained my position often enough. I am completely convinced that SP is the most efficient way of teaching most children to read. BUT, I am not convinced, on the basis of research evidence, that all children will be able to read using SP. A residual number will have, as Prof. McGuinness herself indicates, auditory and visual problems that make even SP difficult. Currently in the UK one can obtain auditory processing assessments through the NHS at only a handful of hospitals, and according to my son's paediatrician there is no treatment available (in the UK, that is). There are at least three schools of thought regarding the impact of visual difficulties on reading, disagreeing with each other vehemently at times, and it is very difficult to get a thorough assessment of a child's eye movements. Speech therapy and educational psychology are severely underfunded, so it's no good expecting help from that quarter. It is sometimes very difficult for my son to understand other people and to make himself understood, but he is not considered, at 12, to have a 'severe' speech problem. I have no problems with SP. I do have problems with SP being promoted as a magic bullet.