portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts global


Cambridge University Research Study

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch sudty at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are.
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch sudty at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are; the
olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.

The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit mcuh porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Fcuknig amzanig huh?
Study shows lack of interdisciplinary study requirement 23.Sep.2003 05:44

Mike stepbystepfarm <a> mtdata.com

No, NOT the reason. Though it is true that most readers who have learned to read fast do so by pattern recognition.

But the reason that what is shown here "works" has to do with things like the "Hamming difference" between words (how many different words could it be with one or two mistakes and where) and the redundancy of the language (how which of these it is can be determined by context in the sentence).

"Commication of information in a noisy channel" was an important area of study 1930-1940 and "information theory" as an area of study came before computers were fully operational. And of course unsing linguistic redundancy to crack encryption is hundreds of years old.

Even preliterate languages (spoken languages) represent communication through a noisy channel and so natural human languages are "designed" with enough redundancy to be error correcting. And by "designed" I mean "evoloved" -- any languages with insufficient error correction for practical use would not have survived. Same with writing systems used to express them. Scribes make errors, but the message must still be readable. So we tend to get written forms for languages where this is still true -- a mistake here or there will NOT make a message unreadable.

In fact, the phenomenon is so extreme that we have forms of humor based upon the situations where some slight change DOES create ambiguity.

damn, dude.... 23.Sep.2003 12:21

damn-dude guy

take this stuff pretty seriously, huh?

on the other hand 23.Sep.2003 18:45

upsie daisie

it's true. Mike sounds very impressive countering the illiterati piece, but i read it as naturally as if the spelling was correct, no hamming, no compensation. Must trust experience over theory in this case.

On the other other hand 23.Sep.2003 22:31


Mikey merely sounds impressive.

What he says (the first part anyway) is, people understand "the wrod as a wlohe".

"Hamming distance" is just an operational definition of the measure of difficulty described by one of the more successful metaphors/theories. It does not say, words are not read as a whole; it measures how hard to understand a theoretical reader might find a particular misspelled whole word.

Mike does not use the phrase, "word as a whole". However, after saying "No ...", he does describe "words" being compared to "words".

Illterati states, and demonstrates, that (most) people read whole words, regardless of certain kinds of severe misspelling. Mike, despite his "No", outlines a hypotheis about how that might be possible -- more precisely, a measurement operation derived from that hypothesis.

One often finds activists disputing bitterly -- or apparently believing they dispute -- over choice of words, scripture. While it is true that poorly chosen words can, sometimes, evicerate the meaning of a statement or argument, usually they are of little significance unless somebody wishes to insert false significance.

It is always easier to accuse a comrade of incorrect analysis than to apply a correct analysis in the real world.

tongue in cheek 24.Sep.2003 12:07


I loved the spoof. So what if the lofty ivy league institution says with authority that this true. They say a lot of things with authority because the Masters fund and control what they study and the results they publish. This time though it is of no importance so it is easier to see the attitude.

? 25.Sep.2003 02:27


Cambridge is not an ivy league institution. And my memory says it was not the locale of the research reported (nor will it supply a likely alternative).

That quibble aside, what spoof? and what attitude?

Caught by a meme 26.Sep.2003 10:13

stumbled on your thread

Just stumbled across this thread trying to verify if the Cambridge study was real. Looks like it isn't....
 link to www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk

Try writing that piece differently... 14.Oct.2003 23:41

Cason mls_hopeful@msn.com

This is much more difficult to understand when it is in reverse alphabetical order. Here....

Aronidccg to a rsreecah sutdy at Crmigdbae Uvtsrniiey, it dosne't mttear in waht oredr the lttrees in a wrod are. the
olny itrponmet tnihg is taht the fsrit and lsat ltteer be at the rihgt plcae.

The rset can be a tatol mses and you can slitl raed it wuohtit mcuh pelborm. Tihs is bsuacee the hamun mid deos not raed erevy letter by ilestf, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Fnikcug anizamg huh?

See it is way more difficult to process. It does matter which order the letters are in.. If the majority of the letters are not in alphabetical order or in the order of which we learned the alphabet this is more difficult to understand.. So yah again it does matter which order the letters are in.

A friend and i noticed this, and i am not sure if has been covered by you or not but i thought i would mention it just in case.

Just my view 02.Dec.2005 04:50


I am not a collage grad or anybody special. I actually have fairly poor spelling. I need glasses for a long time but didn't know it. I started to read words by shape. when reading a news paper if I say the word milk, My eyes only saw mik. Because of context, I was able to read the word. In part I agree with Mike, but not entirely. If one or two words were misspelled I could totaly agree. With all of the words mispelled it is increasingly difficult to attain the true context of the statment. The first time that I saw this, someone just handed me a pice of paper and told me to read it. I had no idea what I was going to be reading but I was able to read it clearly(with my glasses on). It is always easier to tell someone that they are wrong instead of trying to change their own viewpoint. It is human nature to oppose new ideas. If we didn't overcome that obstical, we would still be living in caves and looking at the wonderous burning stick