A year ago or so, I read an article about a study that showed that danish people tend to speak more words per minute than swedes and norwegians do.
It was a Scandinavian study, and Scandinavian languages are closely related to each other are therefore comparable. Reading this /. story I wonder if reading speed is related to the language, and to how distinct word patterns/symbols/ alphabet are in the language (similar to your upper/lower case comment). To summarize - do a native English reader read faster than say a native Chinese reader?