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Can You Raed Tihs? 997

Posted by timothy
from the you-have-for-years dept.
An aoynmnuos raeedr sumbtis: "An interesting tidbit from Bisso's blog site: Scrambled words are legible as long as first and last letters are in place. Word of mouth has spread to other blogs, and articles as well. From the languagehat site: '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.' Jamie Zawinski has also written a perl script to convert normal text into text where letters excluding the first and last are scrambled."
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Can You Raed Tihs?

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  • by inertia@yahoo.com (156602) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:12PM (#6969201) Homepage Journal
    Quick! Someone go register goaste.cx, micorsoft.com, ssdlhoat.org...etc.

    Actually, does this work well with letter pairs like, "th ch wh sh qu?" I forget what those are called.
  • At Lsat! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Urantian (263132) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:12PM (#6969203)
    Bad splelnig no logner nedes to hlod aynnoe bcak!
    • Re:At Lsat! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hamstaus (586402) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:14PM (#6969225) Homepage
      Bad splelnig no logner nedes to hlod aynnoe bcak!

      As if that's stopped anyone on Slashdot before.
    • Re:At Lsat! (Score:5, Funny)

      by scalis (594038) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:17PM (#6969263) Homepage
      So it IS true! Dyslexics definitely has more fnu!
    • by kuwan (443684) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:22PM (#6969341) Homepage
      The best part of the pearl script is the copyright notice:

      # Coyprgiht (C) 2003 Jamie Zawinski
      #
      # Premssioin to use, cpoy, mdoify, drusbiitte, and slel this stafowre and its
      # docneimuatton for any prsopue is hrbeey ganrted wuihott fee, prveodid taht
      # the avobe cprgyioht noicte appaer in all coipes and that both taht
      # cohgrypit noitce and tihs premssioin noitce aeppar in suppriotng
      # dcoumetioantn. No rpeersneatiotns are made about the siuatbliity of tihs
      # srofawte for any puorpse. It is provedid "as is" wiuotht exerpss or
      # ilmpied waanrrty.
    • yeah... (Score:5, Funny)

      by commodoresloat (172735) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:40PM (#6969552)
      and I, for one, wlcemoe our new dslyxeic ovlrerdos!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:43PM (#6969570)
      I like the proposed UN English language modifications to make English easier for everyone to learn!

      The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility.

      As part of the negotiations, the British government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short).

      In the first year, "s" will be used instead of the soft "c". Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard "c" will be replaced with "k". Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

      There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced by "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20 per sent shorter.

      In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent "e"s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

      By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" by "z" and "w" by " v".

      During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou", and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

      After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru.
  • Here you go (Score:5, Informative)

    by JM Apocalypse (630055) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:13PM (#6969205)
    No need to open the terminal ... Jeff comes to the rescue!

    http://jeff.zoplionah.com/scramble.php [zoplionah.com]
  • by tarquin_fim_bim (649994) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:14PM (#6969220)
    WRDOS SBRCALME YOU!
  • holy.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by the uNF cola (657200) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:14PM (#6969226)
    Holy FCUK!
  • FINALLY (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rathian (187923) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:14PM (#6969231)
    Justification for the lack of spell checking on Slashdot...
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Verteiron (224042) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:15PM (#6969239) Homepage
    So d__s t__s m__n t__t we d_n't n__d t_e m____e l____s at all?
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Verteiron (224042) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:20PM (#6969311) Homepage
      Okay, I know it's bad form to reply to one's own post, but I noticed something. When writting "letters", l____rs seems more recognizable than l_____s. Apparently plurals are handled by the brain as the word followed by the plural suffix. Interesting...
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by insanecarbonbasedlif (623558) <insanecarbonbasedlifeform@@@gmail...com> on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:20PM (#6969314) Homepage Journal
      I t___k y__r p__t is p___f t__t we d________y do n__d t_e m____e l_____s.





      Read: I think your post is proof that we definately do need the middle letters.
      • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Verteiron (224042) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:24PM (#6969371) Homepage
        Bt we nd te ss fr te wd cs.

        But we need the spaces, at least, for the word cues.

        So how many "bits" of information can we strip from a sentence, on average, before we can no longer intuitively decipher it? The spaces give us information, but not as much as the letters themselves. Yet clearly the ordering of the letters contains much less information than the contents of a word's endpoints. This is odd stuff.
        • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rusty0101 (565565) on Monday September 15, 2003 @09:07PM (#6970242) Homepage Journal
          ActuallyIHaveFoundThatWeDoNotNeedSpaces.

          WeDoNeedPunctuation,AndSomeQueThatASpaceShouldBe Th ere.

          IWasAbleToWriteASetOfScriptsThatWouldCapitalizeT he First
          LetterOfEveryWord,ThenStripOutSpaces.IUseTh atScrip tToSend
          TextPagesToMyCellPhoneToSaveSpace.

          ToFollowUpOnYourIdea,WeCouldStripOutVowlesFromTh eM iddleOf
          WrdsAndStllFndMstOfTheTxtRdbl.IThnkWeNdTo LveAnyAtT heBgngOr
          EndOfTheWrdsThgh.

          At the moment it takes a bit of extra thinking to do that though.

          -Rusty
      • by The Monster (227884) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:06PM (#6969768) Homepage
        I think your post is proof that we definately do need the middle letters.
        But it's apparently not so definite which letters we need.

        <sigh>

    • by blunte (183182) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:31PM (#6969451)
      Two reasons your message doesn't work without great effort:

      1 - You've left out the letters, and thus our brain can't do the quick magic to "know" the words. The summary of the story worked really well, surprisingly well. But yours is hosed.

      2 - There's no real context for your sentence, so it's even that much more difficult to guess quickly.
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x@NOspAM.snkmail.com> on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:35PM (#6969499) Homepage Journal
      " So d__s t__s m__n t__t we d_n't n__d t_e m____e l____s at all?"

      No, the middle letters are still necessary. I find myself misreading all the time because my brain took in the first and last letter and read it as a word with similar spelling and length.

      So I would hypothesize that the first/last letters along with the lengths of the words and a rough idea of what letters go in the middle are what our brains look for.

      But this only comes with practice. English is my first language and I have read millions and millions of words in English in my lifetime so I am very used to taking in written information this way. But if I switch to reading something in French (for which I took for 11 years in school but never became fluent, mainly because I hated learning french) I still have to read each word carefully because I am not used to reading it.

      So if some person who is just learning english looked at words with jumbled internals, I expect that they would have a terrible time trying to figure them out. Their brains have not read each word thousands of times so they still have to decode them letter by letter.

  • by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:15PM (#6969243)
    Why do I get the feeling that this particular thread will hvae a few mroe snpellig eorers tehn uusal?
  • by Penguinshit (591885) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:16PM (#6969249) Homepage Journal
    "encryption".

  • by Valar (167606) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:16PM (#6969253)
    It's a perl script to format normal text into text that looks like a perl script? I think my head is spinning.
  • by PredatoryDuck (699918) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:16PM (#6969255)
    I showed this to a student here who is native to Indonesia, so english is not her first language, and she had a very difficult time reading it. Any thoughts on why this might be so tied to your native tongue? I would have thought that anyone fluent in english (which she is) would be able to read the post without much difficulty.

    D
    • by Hamstaus (586402) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:23PM (#6969363) Homepage
      Spoken language and written language are two separate entities when it comes to usage and process. It is not uncommon to find people who are very well-spoken in a second language, but cannot write a word. I would venture to guess that your student takes much longer to read something in English than in her native language, despite her fluency. The patterns of English words would still require more concentration and interpretation by her brain than those of her native language, which have been ingrained into her since she was very young.

      You did not mention if she is a fluent reader/writer, speaker, or both? From what you describe I would say that when you said "fluent" you meant as a speaker.
    • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:24PM (#6969378) Homepage Journal
      I would have thought that anyone fluent in english (which she is) would be able to read the post without much difficulty.

      Actually, since I'm not British, the final word of the canonical scramble threw me off:

      Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro.

      I read the rest of the text correctly, but I had a devil of a time figuring out the reference to the Miyazaki film Spirited Away, also known as Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi [nausicaa.net]!
      • I think it is actually cheerio.

        WordNet (r) 1.7 [wn]

        cheerio
        n : a farewell remark; "they said their good-byes" [syn: adieu,
        adios, arrivederci, auf wiedersehen, au revoir,
        bye, bye-bye, good-by, goodby, good-bye, goodbye,
        good day, sayonara, so long]
    • It's probably more of an experience problem.
      My native tounge is not english, nor do I live in a englishspeaking country, but I had no problem what so ever reading the post.
      I do, however, read a lot of english litterature and have been doing so for the last 13 years.
  • by SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:17PM (#6969270) Journal
    Throw out the I before E rule once and for all.
  • by kellan1 (23372) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:17PM (#6969273) Homepage
    This meme has been kicking around blogland for a couple of days, and it definitely seems to be true. The only part of the above paragraph that was difficult to read was the sentence, "the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae".

    Normally I would never post a comment about grammar, but it is kind of startling that in a block of text that jumbled the absence of 'the', and the swapping of 'is' for 'are' still jump out at you.
  • Eggs (Score:4, Funny)

    by vevva (693964) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:18PM (#6969283)
    Agrlhit cleevr clogs - see if you can sbarclme eggs
  • by mark_space2001 (570644) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:19PM (#6969300)
    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.

    ...but it's like reading a post by a 12 year old on a forum someplace ... or like playing an online game with a bunch of l33t doodz. I hate it.

    Don't ever do this again, Slashdot.

  • Cool (Score:3, Funny)

    by retro128 (318602) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:19PM (#6969309)
    And to think I was about to apologize for my last typo-ridden post.

  • by WndrBr3d (219963) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:20PM (#6969316) Homepage Journal
    if raeding tihs txet would voilate the DMCA ;-)
  • by Mattcelt (454751) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:20PM (#6969319)
    Understanding a language is only 50% comprehension. The other 50% is being able to predict what will come next based on previous experience. This is especially important in spoken language, because the brain simply does not have the power to parse each word separately in real time.

    So while it is possible to understand words that are not spelled correctly, it can still take a while to understand if the nxet few wdors are not qieut waht you epcext. It is aslo mcuh lses pbatldicree wehn you use lgenor wdros.

    I hpoe tihs was an imuilntinag eplamxe!

    Mclettat
  • Excuse? (Score:3, Funny)

    by theolein (316044) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:20PM (#6969323) Journal
    I wonder if the origins of this trend aren't in the terrible spelling and bad grammar that many internet age children employ, having gone through a school system that accepts MS Word's spelling correction as normal?
  • by gmuslera (3436) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:22PM (#6969345) Homepage Journal
    Can this assumptions be false for other kind of languages or a priori is universal? At least in spanish after a few tries looked to me less clear than in english.

    Also... what happen when the scrambled word is another valid word? Or a misspelled valid words?

    • Also... what happen when the scrambled word is another valid word?

      This sounds like a good way to confuse the ole word detector. Four variants spring to mind for an original word of n letters. In all variants, hold the first and last character constant and mix the interior letters. First, can a new n-letter word be formed. Second, can a new (n-1)-letter word be formed including the original first letter, but excluding the original last letter. Third, can a new (n-1)-letter word be formed including th
    • As you know, we don't use nearly all the combinations of letters. I imagine the more "compact" the language, the more combinations in use, the less intuitive it is.

      Most of the time we'll probably read it correct based on context anyway (e.g. expecting a verb, not a noun), but I imagine it'll be much harder and confusing.

      Kjella
    • by Azureflare (645778) on Monday September 15, 2003 @11:25PM (#6971549)
      Context is used to determine the actual meaning of the word. A word can be spelled randomly as another valid word. I think given a sample sentence, the true meaning can be derived.

      "Tikang garet crae, I septped bihend the gril, and fdnoled her basters"

      Um, that is a little hard to read isn't it. Well, ok, I think you're right. Notice "gril" and "basters" in the same sentence, make you think of cooking.

      And yes, this statement could be offensive. Well, I'm male. I can't really help it.

  • by StewedSquirrel (574170) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:23PM (#6969367)
    The "consonant pairs" seem to always be still paired in these words.

    If I type

    sllpenig it's clear I'm typing "spelling"

    but, if I type

    slpenlig it's not so clear anymore.

    What about: according

    Aoccdrnig (as in the article) is ok but...
    aocdrncig is not nearly as clear

    There's a limit to how far your brain can stretch it. Some consonant pairs your brain DOES intepret much like a single letter, because it's an irregularity in english.

    Words that use such consonant pairs and triplets like "tch" are much harder to distinguish when those pairs and triplets (which really sound like a single letter) are split.

    Stewey
  • by vevva (693964) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:27PM (#6969411)
    Eht sbviouo txperimene ot monfirc eht yheort si ot ees thaw sappenh nhew uoy ecrambls ynlo eht tirsf dna tasl setterl dna eeavl eht eiddlm setterl eht eams. Eompletc Kobbledegoog.
  • by Osrin (599427) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:29PM (#6969434) Homepage
    people here don't read just the first and the last letters of a word... we generally don't read anything at all, we just hit reply and dive right in.
  • by Sodium Attack (194559) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:29PM (#6969437)
    Can anyone track down an authoritative source for this?

    Bisso got it from languagehat. Bisso also cites a Nature article that may be related; however, the Nature article clearly deals with hearing time-reversal of segments of spoken sentences, not reading mangled written words. languagehat cites Avva, who languagehat admits doesn't give a source; I can't get to the Avva entry at the moment.
  • Ha! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vDave420 (649776) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:32PM (#6969469)
    Not surprising. Your brains does lots of strange things.

    Please go and feed the the cat.


    Bet ya didn't see that, did ya?

    Re-read it slowly.

    -dave-

  • SPAM?!?!?!? (Score:5, Funny)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:33PM (#6969477) Journal
    Ok, so now they discover that randomizing the text within words doesn't detract (too much) from readability - does that mean we'll soon be seeing:

    ELNRAGE YUOR PNEIS!!!

    on the subject lines of emails received? How would any of the pattern matching anti-spam methods out there deal with this one?

    And, we just gave them the tool do use!

    -Ben
  • by Soul-Burn666 (574119) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:40PM (#6969538) Journal
    Every once in a while, I see a funny thing on some IRC channel, forum or whatever. And then I keep getting that funny thing from every posible place...

    I got this lteters thingy yesterday, and today my dad told me: "I just got a mail with something really interesting" so I asked: "is that the thing about reading words with scrambled letters?" I wasn't surprised to hear that it was that....

    Same thing goes with the badgerbadger flash... I'm pretty sure everyone here saw that aswell...
  • Mod up article! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by haggar (72771) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:41PM (#6969558) Homepage Journal
    This is the first time I have read something truly original, genuinely new and important, on Slashdot!

    This is a breakthrough for a great part of humanity - it almost puts in question why should we even write the way we do. Sure, legal documents and such will stil have to be thorough and correct, but maybe a lot of other human-created docs could be leniant on typos, as long as the word contains all the necessary letters and the first and last letters are in place.

    This thing really, truly works!
  • by thejackol (642922) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:43PM (#6969568) Homepage
    This is so darn old... I thought Slashdot was bleeding edge! Here is the original forward FYI:

    Titled: Do Spellings Matter?

    "... randomising letters in the middle of words [has] little or no effect on the ability of skilled readers to understand the text. This is easy to denmtrasote. In a pubiltacion 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"

    And if you liked *that* one so much, you might like this one too:

    Read the sentence below carefully:

    "I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting nevertheless, extraordinary pharmaceutical intellectuality counterbalancing indecipherability, transcendentalizes intercommunications' incomprehensibleness".

    This is a sentence where the Nth word is N letters long.

    e.g. 3rd word is 3 letters long, 8th word is 8 letters long and so on.

    And if you like that one too, here is another one you can try to kill your boredom...

    While sitting, draw clockwise circles on the ground with your right foot. While doing that, try drawing the number "6" in air with your right hand.

    Your foot will change direction.
  • by PotatoMan (130809) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:50PM (#6969628)
    Does this suggest we can compress English text by retaining first, last, and length? Given that we can represent chars with 5 bits, and use another 5 bits for length, we should be able to pack words into two bytes, including a parity bit.


    Does this work only for English? Or only for Romance languages? Or can we find a similar scheme for any language?

  • by Xthlc (20317) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:50PM (#6969631)
    My parents are both teachers, and one of the most tiresome quarrels in education is Phonics vs. Whole-Word [acfnewsource.org] debate. Do you teach someone to read by teaching them how to sound out syllables (phonemes)? Or do you teach them to recognize whole-word patterns by rote?

    Experimentally, a pure-phonics approach has proven to have the highest success rate. However, these results would suggest that whole-word approach *does* map onto some important cognitive structure . Perhaps this means that, once past the basic level, whole-word techniques would prove to be valuable in turning beginning readers into advanced readers.
  • by isomeme (177414) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:50PM (#6969634) Homepage Journal
    Enojy :)

    #!/usr/bin/perl -p
    # scram: scrambles the innards of words
    # Usage: scram <input-text >scrambled-text
    # Craig Berry (20030915)

    s/
    ([a-z]) # Initial letter
    ([a-z]{2,}) # Two or more middle letters
    ([a-z]) # Final letter
    /$1 . shuffle($2) . $3/egix;

    # Fisher-Yates shuffle

    sub shuffle {
    my @chars = split //, shift;
    my $i = @chars;
    while ($i) {
    my $j = rand $i--;
    @chars[$i, $j] = @chars[$j, $i];
    }
    return join '', @chars;
    }
  • Common technique! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lonesome phreak (142354) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:01PM (#6969719) Journal
    This is a common thing when learning speed-reading. You basically do the same thing, but ignore the rest of the word and intuitivly know what the word was from the other words in the sentence.

    However, it also makes reading out-loud difficult when you are used to skipping words when you read them.
  • by Apreche (239272) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:59PM (#6970176) Homepage Journal
    Let's see if they search for

    Led Zlepneipn - Sriawty to Hvaeen.mp3

    hahahahah!!!!!

    (applies pearl script to mp3 directory)
  • by eniu!uine (317250) on Monday September 15, 2003 @09:31PM (#6970470)
    I wonder how much context has to do with our understanding of these sentences. Take for example these words, scrambled and taken completely out of context:

    rteglus
    blafams
    frignde

    It could be very frustrating to someone attempting to unscramble them when they find out they were completely random. It's just this sort of frustration that would make someone like me laugh out loud, or lol in the parlance of our times.

  • by ThesQuid (86789) <a987@mSLACKWAREac.com minus distro> on Monday September 15, 2003 @11:21PM (#6971511) Journal
    Actually, I can think of one extremely interesting application for this idea - cryptography. It is actually highly intelligible, but definitely bound to give any code-breaking algorithims headaches when trying to correlate know words to patterns. I may have to try doing this to send messages to my friend in a chinese prison. I'm sure it would give the censors fits trying to translate it.

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