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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."
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Can You Raed Tihs?

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  • 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?
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Re:Here you go (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DoomHaven ( 70347 ) <DoomHaven&hotmail,com> on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:19PM (#6969306)
    Yuor porgarm has a falw. It csnoiders pinctuouatn mkars as ltteers and tuhs any word wtih a pntctuuaion mark at the end wlil condeisr the fanil mark to be the lsat letter.
  • 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...
  • 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!

  • by redenopolis ( 702461 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:21PM (#6969329)
    the mistake is in saying that the unscrambling is
    done at the word level. jump you eyes randomly into
    the text and try to read just one word in isolation.
    as someone on cogling@ucsd pointed out, there are
    also a bunch of non-scrambled key words that help
    your brain figure out what the in-betweens should
    be. anyhow, point being that it's not a feature
    of word recognition that you can read it, but rather
    a feature of higher-level reconstruction.

  • 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 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.

  • 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]!
  • by PredatoryDuck ( 699918 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:28PM (#6969426)
    Interesting that you mention this. I asked her about it, and she says that she does not, in fact, take any longer to process a page of english text than her native text. While writing takes her longer in english, reading does not. (This is simply what she tells me...I don't have any evidence for that).
  • 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.


  • by MMaestro ( 585010 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:34PM (#6969491)
    True. I've tried this before when I was younger with my parents, who did not learn English as their first language (their first language was Chinese) and they were unable to read the scrambled words. I doubt anyone who learned English as a second language would be able to read the scrambled words as easily as most Slashdotters.
  • My experience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:35PM (#6969504)
    I'm mildly dyslexic. I'm English speaking and grew up in South Africa where we were forced to learn Afrikaans (Dutch-like) at school and used Afrikaans 80% of the time while in the army there so I can read/write/speak this fluently. I also learn to speak a bit of Zulu and Xhosa.

    While at University I thought I'd take some Xhosa courses and eventually packed it in because I was struggling so much to read Xhosa, though I could speak it better than most of the other kids.

    This leads me to think that once one builds a certain familiarity with any language, one can cope with the scramble.

    To me, the most interesting part of this discovery/research is that it might find a way to help dyslexic kids. I sure hope so.

  • by inertia@yahoo.com ( 156602 ) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:40PM (#6969546) Homepage Journal
    I noticed that compression is worse using scrambled text:

    [anthonym@uniblab scrbameld]$ ./scrmable.pl genesis.txet
    [anthonym@uniblab scrbameld]$ gzip g*
    [anthonym@uniblab scrbameld]$ ls -l
    total 304
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 anthonym staff 63830 Sep 15 16:33 genesis.text.gz
    -rw-r--r-- 1 anthonym staff 84945 Sep 15 16:36 genesis.txet.gz
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 anthonym staff 1396 Sep 15 15:56 scrmable.pl
    [anthonym@uniblab scrbameld]$ gunzip g*
    [anthonym@uniblab scrbameld]$ zip genesis.zip g*
    adding: genesis.text (deflated 70%)
    adding: genesis.txet (deflated 60%)
    [anthonym@uniblab scrbameld]$

    Interesting. Anyone have an explaination for tihs?
  • 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 Tarrio ( 151332 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:46PM (#6969590) Homepage

    It's probably because she cannot read English directly. English is my third language, but I have been reading English-language texts for years, so now I can read it directly, without having to decypher or translate anything. So yes, I can raed toshe srbalcemd txtes wtohiut mcuh dtfcifuily.

    (Funnily, it is very hard for me to actually understand what I'm reading if I'm reading it aloud. Probably the text-to-speech process takes resources that would be normally spent understanding the text ;-). That doesn't happen when I read Spanish or Galician (my two mother languages).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:49PM (#6969626)

    Eompletc Kobbledegoog.

    Actually, this post was more readable for me than the article or many other posts in this discussion. I was quite amazed at how switching the bookend letters made the whole word look backward, but recognizably so, as if all the letters had been reversed. And reading a word backwards (at least for me) is an even easier task than reading the scrambled middle letters (which, I'll admit was suprisingly easy).

    Jacob Fugal

  • 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)

    ([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;
  • by Mattsson ( 105422 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:01PM (#6969718) Journal
    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.
  • 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.
  • Original research (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fafalone ( 633739 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:07PM (#6969778)
    I brought this up over at ScienceForums [scienceforums.net] yesterday, and someone pointed to the mentioned article that says: "They wrote up their results in the 29 April 1999 issue of Nature, but I've been unable to find it online."
    The original article that particular blog is based on can be found here [nature.com]
    Abstract is here [nature.com]
    and full text (HTML and PDF w/ images) for those without access to Nature is here [scienceforums.net]

    However, this research was done on words that are reversed, not internally scrambled. I have been unable to locate research on the letter order within longer words, however the principle is accurate and I'm sure it exists.
  • by _avs_007 ( 459738 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:12PM (#6969823)
    I work in a lab. A while back, we did a useability(sp?) study on user interfaces.

    We were trying to figure out why text messaging on phones is such a hit in Japan, and yet everyone over here thinks its rather clumsy.

    The study basically pointed out, that to say something like, "I love you", requires you to "type" a lot of characters to convey that message. Using Kanji, one or two characters will suffice. I should've known, (being married to a chinese person), but after I thought about it, it makes a lot of sense. I have flashbacks of watching old chinese movies, and seeing the characters say a few characters, and the english subtitles would be a paragraph long.... And conversly watching english movies, and the guy rambles on-and-on, and the subtitles contains a handful of chinese characters...
  • by vhold ( 175219 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:31PM (#6969947)
    Is this an irablommensucne pomenologicahenl hsiotheyps or the matiostenifan of the igibilitieltny of imatioidc iialistividundc icationommunitercns?
    Is tihs an iommensurablnce paogicolenomenhl hesipothys or the mfestatioinan of the iilitteligibny of iiomatidc iividualistidnc icommunicationrntes?
    Is tihs an isurablcommenne phenomenological hesipothys or the manifestation of the iigibilitlteny of imatiodic iistilduadivinc iationccommuniernts?
    Is tihs an immensurablcone pologicaenmnohel hhesiypots or the mifestationan of the iibilitglienty of itiadiomc iividualistidnc intercommunications?
    Is tihs an immensurablocne penomenologicahl hipothesys or the mnifestatioan of the iteligibilitny of iatimdioc iidualistindivc iommunicationcterns?
    Is this an icommensurablne phenomenological hhesipotys or the matioanifestn of the ibilitielignty of iatidiomc istialidividunc intiorcommunicaetns?
    Is this an imensurablcomne pologicaennomehl hesipothys or the mestatioifnan of the iiliteligibtny of itiamiodc ialistividundic iationtercommunicns?
    Is tihs an ilommensurabcne phenomenological hothesiyps or the mestatiofanin of the inteligibility of iomatidic idividualistinc iationcommunicertns?
    Is this an isurablmenmncoe penologicaenomhl hipothesys or the mtionifestaan of the iitbilnteligiy of iiomatidc ialistidividunc itioncommunicaertns?
    Is this an icommensurablne pnomenologicahel hothesiyps or the mfestatioanin of the ilitibinteligy of iomatiidc iidualistividnc inicationntercommus?
    Is this an irablmensucomne pgicaonomenolhel hypothesis or the mestatioanifn of the igibilitnteliy of iomatiidc ilistividuadinc intercommunications?
    Is this an immensurablcone pnologicahenomel hisypothes or the matioifestann of the itlinteligibiy of idiomatic iistindividualc inotercommunicatins?
  • by Skiffley ( 674110 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:35PM (#6969985)
    As a graphic design student, I have been taught that it is more difficult to read blocks of text that have been made in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. The reason for this is that the ascenders (pieces going up from the main body of the word, like the top of the "d" in "word") and descenders (like "y" in "you") help us to see the word at a glance. In effect, once we have gotten used to reading the english language, we no longer read letters at all, but words as whole characters. Even when the middle letters are scrambled, the letters have almost the same shape. I would like to see someone try this little experiment with capital letters, as I doubt it would work nearly as well.
  • by Ummite ( 195748 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:38PM (#6970018) Homepage
    Wait a minute. What you just say is very interesting : imagine you have someone (spy) who actually try to make himself an american. If he learn very much about english, it could be very hard for anyone to proove he's not what he is telling. BUT : with some scrambled sentence as posted, I think we could rapidly find out who is native american (or at least, english as first language), or who actually learned english. My first language is french and I will assure you that I read pretty well english, but I was descrambling very slowly all the posts. And, it can probably work also for regional expression, to know if someone actually lived somewhere or not. What do you think?
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:40PM (#6970035) Homepage
    A lt of vwls rn't necsry. U jst nd th mjr phnms. Thus ltrs, not ls.
  • by PMuse ( 320639 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:42PM (#6970051)
    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 the original last letter, but excluding the original first letter. Fourth, can a new (n-2)-letter word be formed excluding both the original first and last letters. I suppose that if n is large (e.g. >= ~7), the pattern could be continued or multiple new valid words might be formed from the n letters.

    The resulting false clues should tend to mislead the reader.

    Another way to fool the old noggin would be to start with a misspelled original.
  • by indianajones428 ( 644219 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @08:48PM (#6970094)

    Funny, at first I thought all the words were just backwards. When I started to read them as such, it made a lot more sense.

    An experiment like this might be better performed with single words instead of entire sentences, as the human mind excels at finding and deciphering patterns.

  • by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @09:14PM (#6970294)

    Nit: Huffman coding is just a technique for taking a symbol alphabet with associated probability model and generating a minimal-entropy prefix-free binary code.

    It is not a compression algorithm, though it often appears as the last step in a compression algorithm. In particular, it doesn't deal with the problem of how you generate the probability model, or what your symbol alphabet is.

    The gzip algorithm, for example, uses "Huffman compression" just fine, but it still does poorly on scrambled text.

  • by pbox ( 146337 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @09:18PM (#6970322) Homepage Journal
    Yes, but it brings up interesting lossy text compression, where you can rearrange the middle of the words to reduce the compressed file size. Kinda like MP3 or JPG for your reading.
  • Wow! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Safrax ( 697056 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @10:20PM (#6971014) Journal
    I just tried this with some co-workers! They still don't believe it.
  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @10:24PM (#6971046) Homepage Journal

    Chinese is ideographic, and Japanese combines Chinese ideograms ("kanji") mixed with phonetic syllable signs ("kana"). Korean has an actual alphabet ("hangul"), except that instead of the letters coming in a row as in Latin, Cyrillic, or Hebrew, each syllable is packed into a box. Korean used to be written with borrowed Chinese ideograms, but nowadays the alphabet dominates writing.

    You can Read more about Hangul [wikipedia.org], but you may have to have Korean support installed on your OS to display the Hangul characters.

  • by KrON ( 2656 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @10:51PM (#6971292) Homepage
    Before he did i think ;)


    src @ http://junglist.org/jumble.php

    too bad i am not cool like jwz :/
  • by KrON ( 2656 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @10:55PM (#6971316) Homepage
    son of a bitch, i meant src @ http://junglist.org/jumble.phps [junglist.org]
  • by Jamie Zawinski ( 775 ) <jwz@jwz.org> on Monday September 15, 2003 @11:12PM (#6971437) Homepage

    You know, I'm not so sure about that -- is a license rendered invalid just because contains spelling errors? I strongly suspect not.

    (Anyway, the copyright is enforcable because everything is copyrighted by default, even if it has no notice at all. The interesting question is whether the license I put on that thing actually grants you any rights. I think it probably does.)

  • by quinkin ( 601839 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @11:13PM (#6971453)
    The best example I can think of for comprehension failure with jumbled text is with ordered interdependant phonemes. For instance - "eau", or "ough".

    Turhgoh = Through

    A topic that does not seem to have had much coverage in this article is the actual iconic visual recognition that our brains appear to use in word recognition.

    Obviously each word approximates a patterned rectangle (serif fonts emphasize this further) with occasional outliers (ie. t, y, l, and any other letters that protrude above or below the base rectangle).

    People with poor eyesight rely on this fuzzy but fast recognition frequently. In fact there is a classic psych experiment based around displaying a word that iconically is very similar to another word, while simultaneously presenting a context that implies the second word, and asking the subject to record the word. The subject mis-records the word roughly 90% of the time.


  • by zeath ( 624023 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @01:12AM (#6972282) Homepage
    I noticed, while testing the script out with a paper I happen to be in the process of writing, that compound words do not seem to work with this scheme. Though I'm hardly a linguist, it may be a result of the compound word being translated seperately and then placed together when we read it. When the letters intermingle, we aren't able to differentiate the two halves.
    Examples from the paragraph I tested with are "worldview", "afterlife", and "humankind". I'm sure iterations that keep the halves partially seperate would be readable, but ones I came up with (like "wirovdelw") simply make no sense.
    Other, larger words that I've noticed do not work are "consciousness" and "unenlightened", though I'm sure it wouldn't be too isn't unusual to expect large words to begin to obfuscate themselves too much.
    This doesn't explain the shorter words that seem to obfuscate very readily, such as "religion" and "autonomous". Once letters and/or vowels become repitious and clump together, the word seems to be more difficult to readily decrypt. I can also confirm this is true from my experience of occasionally playing TextTwist [yahoo.com] on Yahoo! Games.

    (end random paper-avoiding post)
  • by router ( 28432 ) <a.r@gmail.cAUDENom minus poet> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @02:00AM (#6972543) Homepage Journal
    1. At what age does this manifest itself?
    2. Does this work in other languages? I am guessing japanese (at least) would not work....
    3. What implications does this have for cryptology, in that you can't look for strings anymore?

    Big Bonus question:
    4. If 2 is false, in that it doesn't work for other languages, is this intrinsic property of English the reason that English has become the language of global business or is it simply a by-product of English being spoken by those who sailed the world and conquered the world (British and American Imperialism)? ie because English is recognisable after mangling, is that the reason that it is so "popular"?

    Inquiring minds want to know....

  • by Vaughn Anderson ( 581869 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @03:47AM (#6972936)
    Don't the number of exceptions to the phonics generalizations hamper it greatly as a tool?

    I am no reading expert but a good friend of mine is. From what I gathered from him is that the actual act of "decoding" a written word into a spoken word is the very first step in reading.

    If you don't know what the sound the letter "P" makes you can never ever read the letter. So the basics of reading _is_ phonics. Phonics is not some kind of "method" of teaching how to read, it is a process that every single person reading this text right now has to go through in order to decode the imagery into a sound.

    Then once the person get's good enough at it they no longer have to focus concious attention to the decoding process as it becomes automatic.

    But even I as a very skilled reader when I run into a very new, large or complex word I _have_ to sound it out, or attempt to, because that is the only way a human being can read.

    Decoding visual symbols to auditory symbols = phonics.

    Then after the steps of decoding comes comprehension, which is totally seperate from decoding. (I am sure I have the order of events wrong here...) A child can sound out the sentence-

    "Frank went to the market to buy a german shepard"

    -but they still need to understand what they decoded. Whole language is a guessing game based on assumptions and values that are not concretely 100% based on a system of the intetional ordering of the letters in relation to their auditory equivilants.

    As adults we can use whole language easily in the sense that we can guess words based on previous knowledge of the word (written and spoken) but not so for a small child that has never decoded any words.

    As an example my daughter likes to guess words because that is how they started in Kindegarten, with sight words ( a huge mistake ). So she started with the habit of merely memorizing shapes of words without even considering the auditory values of the letters of those words.

    After teaching my daughter some very basic decoding skills based on help from my friend, my daughter learned to read words she's never seen before. She read the word "giraffe" all by herself using her new found decoding skills. I gurantee you that no skills of the "whole language" idealogy would come close to providing this kind of reading ability in a 6 year old kid.

    Can you explain in detail, step by step how you know how to read the word "giraffe"? In whole language you don't have steps to parse the sounds out and recombine them.

    Here's the logic.
    1. "g" sounds like G as in "Great"
    2. "ir" sounds like "er" as in "Her"
    3. "a" sounds like "a" in "hat"
    4. "ff" sounds like "f" in "fast"
    5. "e" sounds like "e" in "see"

    Then the child comes initially with the word "geraffy" when it should be "jeraf"

    The child at age 6 knows many thousands of words, and does not recognize "geraffy" so...

    1. Child recognizes the silent "e"
    2. Over compensates and makes the "a" sound like "a" in "bay"
    3. "g" can sound like "j"
    4. Now has word "jerayf"
    5. Reverts the "ay" to "a", considers it a mistake, and gets-
    6. "jeraf" which is the correct sound, at which time the child jumps up and down with glee.

    But even easier is reading the word in a sentence. "I saw a giraffe at the zoo today"

    As competent readers we automatically do all the calculations that this child does when we find a new word. After a number of times reading a word, the decoding is either automatic and extermely fast or as I like to view it in my own mind, there is a pre-rendered cached version of the word "giraffe" sitting in my mind, so when I see the word in it's whole, I know it's meaning without having to completely parse the word a single block at a time (by letter) but by the whole word itself.

    Some of this is my opinion and the rest is raw fatual data.

  • by infernow ( 529374 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @05:50AM (#6973375) Homepage
    This has turned into a theory as to why English can be mangled so. Here it is in all its splendor:

    Modern English is the offspring of many different older languages (as you may know). These languages all had varying ways of representing different sounds with the alphabet given to them by the Romans. When English took all of these methods and combined them into one language. Thus, there are many different ways of creating the same sound, or phoneme [reference.com].

    Therefore, English does not encode the spoken language into text exactly. Though there are some sounds that can only be created one way ('ng' and 'ch' come to mind), many can be spelled numerous ways. For example: whir, were, and work have the same sound in them, but are spelled differently. This makes spelling words in English more difficult, but makes identifying misspelled words easier. You could say English now comes with error-correction. This has no doubt helped it remain in existence, despite its lack of consistent grammar rules and general lack of user-friendliness.

    Disclaimer: I blame any grammatical or logical errors on my lack of sleep. Now I'm going to bed.

  • by BibelBiber ( 557179 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @06:33AM (#6973523)
    Hi, I just tried that script with a german Tagesschau.de article which is like this: Viele altere Lehrer, zu groBe Klassen, zu wenig Studienanfanger - Deutschland hat laut der jungsten OECD-Bildungsstudie in vielen Bereichen weiter Nachholbedarf. Die zu geringe Zahl der Studenten ist nach Ansicht der OECD auch fur die aktuelle Wirtschaftsschwache mitverantwortlich. scrambled its like this: Veile altere Lheerr, zu groB Ksselan, zu wineg Sninuetdafanegr - Dnulsaechtd hat laut der junstgen OECD-Biudgdsunsitle in vielen Bechreein weteir Nohahlbeacrdf. Die zu gniegre Zhal der Sutednetn ist nach Ahscnit der OECD acuh fur die akleulte Wftrchhssacstiwache martcrwntvoieilth. German words get too long unlike English.
  • by Asprin ( 545477 ) <gsarnold@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @09:08AM (#6974354) Homepage Journal

    Wll, wht abt vwls? Ths r nncssry mst f th tm, t. N fct, nc y gt rd f th vwls nd mddl lttrs, y cn s hw trly wstfl th nglsh lngg rlly s!

    This reminds me of that old programming axiom:
    Every program has at least one bug.
    Every program can be reduced in size by at least one instruction.
    Therefore, by induction every program can be reduced to one instruction which doesn't work.

  • How to raed (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @09:51AM (#7043215)
    Iltnsegnetiry I'm sdutynig tihs crsrootaivnel pnoheenmon at the Dptmnearet of Liuniigctss at Absytrytewh Uivsreitny and my exartrnairdoy doisiervecs waleoetderhlhy cndairotct the picsbeliud fdnngiis rrgdinaeg the rtlvaeie dfuictlify of ialtnstny ttalrisanng steennces. My rsceeerhars deplveeod a cnionevent ctnoiaptorn at hnasoa/tw.nartswdbvweos/utrtep:k./il taht dosnatterems that the hhpsteyios uuiqelny wrtaarns criieltidby if the aoussmpitn that the prreoecandpne of your wrods is not eendetxd is uueniqtolnabse. Aoilegpos for aidnoptg a cdocianorttry vwpiienot but, ttoheliacrley spkeaing, lgitehnneng the words can mnartafucue an iocnuurgons samenttet that is vlrtiauly isbpilechmoenrne.

    Or, if you prefer...

    Interestingly I'm studying this controversial phenomenon at the Department of Linguistics at Aberystwyth University and my extraordinary discoveries wholeheartedly contradict the publicised findings regarding the relative difficulty of instantly translating sentences. My researchers developed a convenient contraption at http://www.aardvarkbusiness.net/tool that demonstrates that the hypothesis uniquely warrants credibility if the assumption that the preponderance of your words is not extended is unquestionable. Apologies for adopting a contradictory viewpoint but, theoretically speaking, lengthening the words can manufacture an incongruous statement that is virtually incomprehensible. :)

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright