Can You Raed Tihs Msesgae
Letters Make Words Because the Brain Says So
An email from
a dyslexic friend was a play on word recognition research. She
enjoyed the information on cognitive processes and learning to
read embedded in the humorous message. It read...
to a rseearchr at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in
waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng
is taht the frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset
can be a toatl
mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit any porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae
we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe."
Can you read
it? Probably... Here is the translation"
to a researcher at an English university, it doesn't matter in
what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing
is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest
can be a total mess and you can still read it without any problem.
This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself
but the word as a whole.
Is it true?
this message has become one of those email hoaxes that although
not true, will live forever. If you haven't received it yet...
you will someday.
Davis, who earns his living at Cambridge University studying
how our brains process words, has taken the time to assemble the
same text in several languages and alphabets. The results are
far from comprehensible.
There is a
reason that the piece of text is not just gibberish. There are
patterns that the brain looks for in order to process anything
that our senses perceive.This text has enough of the normal English
word patterns to be recognizable.
The rule that
the first and last letters need to be in their correct place does
make a difference, but not for the reasons that the email gives.
Notice that any one, two or three letter word is written correctly.
That gives your mind several places where no extra processing
is needed. The four letter words are a little difficult, but with
only two letter switched, our brains can still cope.
If the piece
to a rseearchr at an Elingsh uinervtisy
the longer words:
rseearchr Elingsh uinervtisy
of words gets more difficult to unravel. There is no context to
guess at to fill in the blanks that these unfamiliar words create.
The familiar patterns are gone.
goes into more details about the problems with this premise if
you're interested. The end result of the explanations is that
the email may be amusing, but the concept doesn't hold up.
stop its popularity on the Internet email circuit, but it may
help you explain the real story if it comes up in your classroom.