Aoccdrnig to rscheearch ...
This paragraph (or others like it) has been
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh 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 is at 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 it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.
(Note: it doesn't work on email addresses.)
This starts to break down when the words get longer.
I saw this in the news a few days ago, and wrote this
little python program:
import random, sys, re
def scramble ( str ):
if len(str) <= 3:
mid = list(str[1:-1])
return str + ''.join(mid) + str[-1]
repat = re.compile( '(\W+)' )
def scr_file ( fd ):
for ln in fd:
wlist = repat.split( ln )
resl = 
for wm in wlist:
wr = scramble( wm )
resl.append( wr )
# print wlist
# print resl
scr_file( sys.stdin )
... so that I could run this experiment on some texts of my own choosing.
Familiar texts like this one are pretty readable, though a few words
(e.g., "destructive") don't work that well for me:
"We hlod teshe trtuhs to be slef-enevidt, taht all men are crateed
eaqul, taht tehy are edwoend by tiehr Ctoarer wtih caertin uanabllneie
rhgits, taht anomg tshee are life, liberty and the puisurt of
hseapipns. Taht to srcuee tshee rthgis, grnvneemtos are iieutsttnd
among men, diivenrg tehir just pewros from the cnsoent of the
grveoned. That weenhevr any form of gmrennvoet becmeos dtteiurscve
to these edns, it is the rghit of the plopee to aeltr or to aosilbh
it, and to itsinttue new goemnrnevt, lyiang its fniotuaodn on scuh
perpinclis and oniirnazgg its powers in such from, as to them shall
seem most lkliey to ecfeft thier stafey and hnsapeips."
Anagrams affect this phenomenon, too. When I re-read
this passage: "Taht to srcuee tshee rthgis,"
my brain supplied "rescue" before it found "secure" ... perhaps
that was affected by the current administration's attempts to
abrogate those rights.
It gets harder to read scrambled text
when the text is unfamiliar or contains a lot
of long words. Here's the documentation for one
of the functions ("re.split") that the python program above uses:
siplt( praettn, srting[, mxlispat = 0])
Slipt sirntg by the ocrnurceecs of pertatn. If cptiarnug
peehtnresas are uesd in pteartn, then the txet of all grpuos
in the pttrean are aslo rtreuend as part of the rsneutlig lsit.
If mpisalxt is neonzro, at msot mplsxiat sptlis ouccr, and the
remedniar of the sinrtg is renterud as the fanil elemnet of
the lsit. (Imipnbttiiolacy ntoe: in the oniaigrl Pthoyn 1.5
resalee, mixpslat was ironegd. This has been fexid in laetr
I suspect that most people have trouble with "capturing parentheses"
and with "Incompatibility".
Now, try running your spelling checker/correcter on this entry :-)
Bonus tangent: I suspect that this is related to the "chunking" of
information that our minds do. I'll explain and relate this to my
keyboard layout at another time.