Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
It's funny.  Laugh. Science

Can You Raed Tihs? 997

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Can You Raed Tihs?

Comments Filter:
  • by another misanthrope ( 688068 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:18PM (#6969279)
    ...I bet people won't the RTFA
  • ugh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by kennedy ( 18142 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:18PM (#6969289) Homepage
    ok *fuck* this bullshit. no, seriously.

    i've had it up to here with all this "teh" and
    "pwn" shit, but now this?!

    man this makes me feel SO old. what the hell are you kids huffing after school anyway?!
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    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.
  • by Bame Flait ( 672982 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:20PM (#6969315)
    Actually, does this work well with letter pairs like, "th ch wh sh qu?" I forget what those are called.

    The reason it DOES work well with those letter pairs is that they aren't familiar at all in reverse. You're more likely to udnerstand their juxtaposition as what it's supposed to be, because you're used to it being one way.

    Where it DOESN'T work as well is when you begin breaking up complex phonemes or diphthongs in short words. Konw what I'm sayin'?
  • by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <> on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:22PM (#6969339) Journal
    Wow! What an incredible revela... wait. That's not interesting at all.

    Seriously. Raise your hand if you had no idea that the human brain could intuitively make corrections to faulty input.

    Ok, anyone raising their hand is a moron.
  • by MourningBlade ( 182180 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:22PM (#6969344) Homepage

    Actually, does this work well with letter pairs like, "th ch wh sh qu?" I forget what those are called.

    They're called dipthongs. There's also tripthongs, though I can't think of any English ones right now.

    And no, they don't appear to work quite as well. I had trouble reading a few words that had split dipthongs.

    Split dipthongs? Sounds kinky.

  • 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?

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:31PM (#6969455)
    This guy's got a point. It is possible to read words even if they are misspelled. It may be 'annoying', but it is a fact of life that the spelling Nazi's should learn to live with.

    There are reasons people don't spell 'properly'. It's not because they're stupid. It's not because they went to school. It's not because you're the only one on Earth who learned how to spell. Instead, there are real reasons that comments made on the web that have spelling errors.

    - Browsers don't have spell checkers when submitting forms. Even if they did, they come as an after thought, as opposed to the way MS Word works by showing you the little squiggly line. Few people want to sit there and have to click 'ok' on every word that wasn't found in the computer's limited dictionary.

    - Some people have learning disabilities. A rather talented friend of mine has a learning disability that has impaired his ability to spell. What's the point of me going all Spelling Nazi on him? What good would that do? The solution for me is to be used to it and not worry about it.

    - Most people just don't care. The important part is "can you understand me?" If I say u instead of you, so what?

    - Not everybody has english as a primary language. It's ridiculous to expect that everybody getting on the web is a college graduate who majored in grammar. It's doubly so when people are in the process of learning English and are participating in web conversation in order to grow. Slashdot, with its international audience, should particularly sensitive to this point.

    I originally started writing this post in order to say the author has a point, but I think it turned more into a "be more tolerant" preach. Well, sorry. I do hope, though, somebody reads this and relaxes a little. Successful understanding is the most important aspect of communication, not how closely it follows protocol.
  • by TLouden ( 677335 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:32PM (#6969462)
    It's all based on predictability. If you don't REALLY know the language well then forget it.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <m4encxb2sw@snkma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:35PM (#6969499) 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.

  • spam (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SebNukem ( 188921 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:36PM (#6969510)
    Bad news, bad news. This seems like a good way to pass through bayesian email filters.

  • 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!
  • Re:The bset prat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <> on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:43PM (#6969567) Homepage Journal
    Uh oh, Jamie Zawinski has shown an interest in something. We have very little time before it is integrated into the standard xscreensaver loadout.
  • Re:SPAM?!?!?!? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:53PM (#6969654)
    Too late, I get SPAM with garbled (but still human-readable) subject lines all the time at my Hotmail accounts. I can't believe how creative they are in saying they have methods of improving the mass of my appendage. (for example) Of course, it usually arrives as:

    "mtodehs of imoprvnig the msas of your appdnaege" ...or something like that.
  • Re:SPAM?!?!?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TLouden ( 677335 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:55PM (#6969670)

    This is a serious problem. Now we just killed one of our methods for eliminating spam.
  • by BlackBolt ( 595616 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:02PM (#6969734) Homepage Journal
    ... all of a sudden, some blogging scientist-types not only think that dyslexia is cool, they actually write perl code to dyslexitize perfect spelling? Are we TRYING to kill the education system?

    Where was this research when I was in Grade 5? If bad spelling was cool, I'd have won a Pultzier Przie by now.

    But seriously folks, it's obviously true that people NOW can read this jumble easily, but that's because we all spend so much time on the internet. We're ACCLIMATIZED to it by now. In fact, we're DESENSITIZED to it. I just ignore it now, like my friend Vince, who doesn't even realize he's got a blue screen, they happen so often.

    They should just rename the internet the Itnerent, the spelling's so bad.... Ask your grandfather to read the same passage you breeze through and watch the cursing begin. See my piont?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:10PM (#6969806)
    Perhaps its how you read. When a native speaker or sufficiently practiced speaker of a language reads something they tend to read it very quickly. Her eyes would quickly scan the line, your brain would process one word while your eyes are on the next. Since spaces are the thing that breaks the string into words, your eyes are drawn to the space and you mostly see only the letters on either side of the space and the rough length of the word.

    If you don't read quickly, you don't focus on the spaces as much and the jumbled middle of the word would confuse you. Also, if she learned from speaking, she might read by sounding out the words in her head. Not really possible if the letters are scrambled.

    Another thing to keep in mind is just because you can speak fluently doesn't mean you can read an write. There are illeterate people in the world who can speak just fine. She might speak english fluently but read it on a 3rd or 4th grade level.
  • by Bob Munck ( 238707 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:32PM (#6969958) Homepage
    "Carnivore" or whatever it's called now suddenly has a much harder problem. Add a liberal use of slang (pun intended), metaphores, spoonerisms, and the massive and increasing volume of spam that also has to be scanned, and it's probably out of business.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

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

    WeDoNeedPunctuation,AndSomeQueThatASpaceShouldBe Th ere.

    IWasAbleToWriteASetOfScriptsThatWouldCapitalizeT he First
    LetterOfEveryWord,ThenStripOutSpaces.IUseTh atScrip tToSend

    ToFollowUpOnYourIdea,WeCouldStripOutVowlesFromTh eM iddleOf
    WrdsAndStllFndMstOfTheTxtRdbl.IThnkWeNdTo LveAnyAtT heBgngOr

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

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @09:16PM (#6970312) Homepage
    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.

  • 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:


    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 Jamie Zawinski ( 775 ) <> on Monday September 15, 2003 @10:42PM (#6971226) Homepage

    Uh huh, and you probably post to Slashdot by tapping on the ethernet jack with battery and a paper clip, right?

    People who actually know how to program realize that while line noise one-liners are sometimes a cute party trick, it's a worthless way to program.

    The more your Perl looks like static, the less well you have written it.

  • by ThesQuid ( 86789 ) <a987@mac . c om> 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.
  • Word shape is key (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Simon ( 815 ) * <> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @02:36AM (#6972706) Homepage
    The reason why this scrambling stuff works is that for the most part it maintains the graphic 'shape' of the words. We read words and phases not by looking at the letters but for recongnising the shape of the words. The first and last letters being important, but also the ascenders (liftbd) and the descenders (jpqyg), since the have the most impact of the shape of the word. This helps explain why uppercase is also hard and slow to read, even when spelt correctly -- all of the words have the same square shape. And it also explains why the scrambling trick does really work if you replace the middle letters with '-'s of underscores. It totally destroys the shape of the words.


Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak