September 15, 2003

· Misc

Originating from who-knows-where (Uncle Jazzbeau is looking) but spreading fast comes the following:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro.

Language Hat was my source. There’s also a Slashdot story.

Now this is very neat. But the explanation—”we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe”—raises some questions. The original researchers may have answered them, of course, but a post’s reach should exceed its grasp or what’s a blog for? If the first and last letters must always be in the right place, then any word three letters long or less will always be spelled properly. Having those words around adds a lot of context to a sentence, helping the reader to process the other words. To really test the idea, we need samples of text where that kind of context is missing.

Recrsheears souhld csrncotut secntnees unisg olny wodrs edxcieneg terhe lttrees. Tihs wlil psoe seevral polrbems beaucse wwreell-ittn Esglinh sluohd nlurtaaly cointan mnay sorht wrdos iunidnlcg pvrn-eborses, gtienvie csaes, cncoeinvets and (howpos) penrpsoitois, aongmst many ohtres. Lnoegr wrods soluhd povre useufl when tteinsg tihs ieda. Fatiensnredg wdors dviorecd from hplfeul cnotext mhgit aslo mkae fnie cidenadats for (siht) iiulsocnn. Eelhapnt. Preorpritay. Mainargl. Avtrinmdatiise. Boyend. Caainnbl. Wree tsohe tcekriir tahn tpyical sentecens? Ppostecirve linigusts wlil fnid csnuotntrcig w-llromefed, ativce senetcens fere form tohse mnay hfepull sohrt wrods raehtr dcffiuilt. Tihs txet smees edecnive eonguh of (carp) taht ponit. Neevretslhes, linigstus slohud sitrve twoards tihs goal. Cvioncning sitedus msut searapte ecah slmal wdor’s cepvidnino-troxtg rloe from the (admn) sipecfic ieda taht praticular otparhghiroc tosntrianipsos gaurantee taht sesne wlil reiman eevn toughh itrnael snbairmclg occrus. Fanlily dleabielrty minlaaitpnug sacmrbled lteter oedrr sohlud make tihngs eevn mroe duffiilct. Raeeedrs wlil fnid wdros wtih vbres or (fcuk) cooatsnnns aaenrrgd ceiuoesctlnvy mkae uiansmnrbclg mroe dcffliiut.

(Tankhs to Jmaie Zainkswi and Pehobus for saciftoiimrbclan asstasince.)

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I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



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