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djberg96 (2603)

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Journal of djberg96 (2603)

Monday September 15, 2003
09:24 PM

scrmabled words

[ #14724 ]
I just saw an inteserting article on slashdot (yeah, I at least chcek the headlines from time to time) about how charcater oredr in English words doesn't matter as lnog as the first and last characters are the same. You can still read it because you don't read every character in a word. Presumably you rely more on context than spelling.

Yes, that last paragraph was a little demo. I guess a guy by the name of Jamie Zawinski wrote a little Perl script here that scrambles words for you. Anyway, I thought it was kinda cool.

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  • Indeed, and psychologists have observed this phenomonen of humans being able to read crippled text some while ago. If you take a line of text for instance and cut off the lower half of each letter, we can usually still read it, albeit much slower.

    There have been some interesting psychological tests going into the same direction. Humans' brain activity was measured when they were confronted with different sentences, some of which deployed ill syntax. When such a sentence was encountered, suddenly the brain started to become really busy, obviously putting the sentence into order again. This comes with some computational costs but in general we are very good at understanding and reading defect language.

    As for the Slashdot story, it explains why we sometimes proof-read a text and don't spot spelling-errors. We don't read character after character but instead fly over blocks of characters (such a block is one or more words usually) with out eyes. Our brain makes some educated guesses about the words and usually guesses right.

    So we'll only spot errors when we read more slowly or the errors are so obvious that even a quick scan would make our eyes pause. 'oerdr' (or some spelling permutation of the inner three letters) is such an example.
    • I almost always spot spelling errors. I can read the sample texts, but I notice the misspellings, and it messes me up.