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Friday
Sep232005

Can you Raed Tihs?

Friday September something or other

 Paris

I’m busy learning a new language. No, not French. I’ve pretty much given up on that. Too hard. No, I’m heavily into Typoglycemia – it’s much easier. I’ll let Wikipedia explain it for you -

Typoglycemia is the lighthearted name given to a purported recent discovery about the cognitive processes behind reading written text. The name makes little sense as glycemia is the concentration of glucose in the blood. It is an urban legend/Internet meme that does have some element of truth behind it.

The legend is propagated by email and message boards and demonstrates that readers can understand the meaning of words in a sentence even when the letters of each word are scrambled. As long as all the necessary letters are present, and the first and last letters remain the same, readers turn out to have little trouble reading the text.

The phenomenon is illustrated by this widely-forwarded e-mail message:

I cdn'uolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg: the phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rsceearch taem at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Such a cdonition is arppoiatrely cllaed Typoglycemia :)-

Amzanig huh? Yaeh and you awlyas thguoht slpeling was ipmorantt.

In actual fact, no such research was carried out at Cambridge University. It all started with a letter to the New Scientist magazine from Graham Rawlinson in which he discusses his PhD thesis:

In a puiltacibon of New Scnieitst you could ramdinose all the letetrs, keipeng the first two and last two the same, and reibadailty would hadrly be aftcfeed. My ansaylis did not come to much beucase the thoery at the time was for shape and senqeuce retigcionon. Saberi's work sugsegts we may have some pofrweul palrlael prsooscers at work.The resaon for this is suerly that idnetiyfing coentnt by paarllel prseocsing speeds up regnicoiton. We only need the first and last two letetrs to spot chganes in meniang.

Cool or what?

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