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#112113 09/15/03 12:16 PM
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[a letter in today's Melbourne Age]

I thugoht yuor rdarees mhgit be iternseted in tihs eiaml taht I rieveced:

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteers are in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by itslef but the wrod as a wlohe. Ceehiro!

[I couldn't bring myself to running the above through Aenigma!]


#112114 09/15/03 12:46 PM
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I found it remarkably easy to read, but then, I'm usually pretty good at unjumbling wdros.


#112115 09/15/03 12:47 PM
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Great to "see" you, paulb! And yes, I read straight through it without a stumble. That's fascinating. Were there any links provided for some background on this phenomenon?


#112116 09/15/03 01:18 PM
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tahts azminag, how auobt dsyelixc polepe, deos the smae rlue alppy? oftroy (or aynone), can you hlep?


#112117 09/15/03 01:44 PM
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I'm not sure this is news. We've known for years that most languages, and English in particular, has a lot of redundancy - not just in the word itself, but in the context of the words. English is particularly well-adapted for building crossword puzzles - or maybe those particular puzzles are well-adapted for English. (Well, I read that somewhere. I don't *know* that it's true. I don't recall the reference, but it was in a book discussing cryptography and information theory.)

There's a difference between reading "PxxxE" and "PALCE" and "PCALE." In the first place there are numerous choices ("POISE," "PRISE," "PRIME" to list a few), but in the second it seems clear that either A & L have been transposed or an A has been dropped beteween L and C (PLACE or PALACE). PCALE could be SCALE or PLACE, and I'd probably opt to believe the first letter was a typo if there were no context.

To me this is exactly analogous to other tricks the brain plays on us - where the brain fills in the gaps because that's what brains do - fill in the gaps, put things in order, add structure to apparent chaos.


k



#112118 09/15/03 01:56 PM
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Well, it was news to me, oh Fiendish one. And thanks for filling in some gaps -- it's all making sense now.

Meanwhile, I just discovered this is being discussed on Straight Dope:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=210913




#112119 09/15/03 02:07 PM
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It might be interesting to see if people have a little trouble getting started reading something like this. That would certainly support the context hypothesis. I thought it interesting that the Dopers showed some consistency in recognizing only the misspelling of weird in the title of the original post.


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There's a difference between what we think we know and what we really know. It's good that we're beginning to gather solid research to support (or even refute, if that were the case) what some of us might have suspected; otherwise, what distinguishes science from philosophy?

k



#112121 09/15/03 02:28 PM
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FF, neither arrogant nor improper! And good one on the science vis-a-vis philosophy; indeed, that's why I asked paulb if the letter included any sources to back this up.


#112122 09/15/03 02:34 PM
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wlel, smae was easy work, as were some of the others, since these are frequent typos(for me at least!)

the Yeah, but is, i could read them, one or two words resisted. (toatl- doesn't work! i had to rescramble that one.. first glance i saw toast.... and toast didn't make any sense!)

some wrods, even look correct - dsyelixc -at first glance!seems perfectly ok.



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