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Weekend fun: Can you raed this?

January 6, 2007

I got this e-mail from a fraternity brother this weekend, and I wondered if this was true — if it was from an actual study at Cambridge University.

Can you raed tihs?

If you can raed this, you have a sgtrane mnid too.

Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg.
The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at
Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a

Word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be
In the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed
It whotuit a pboerlm.

This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey
Lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azanmig huh?

Yaeh and I awlyas Tghuhot slpeling was n ipmorantt!

After a quick Google search, I went to the authority on suspicious e-mails, Snopes.com. Here’s what I found:

Origins: This little bit of intriguing linguistic trivia stormed through inboxes in September 2003. That the order of letters within words is relatively unimportant to reading comprehension as long as the first and last letters are in their proper places seems to be self-evident, as demonstrated by the ability of nearly everyone who came across this item to understand what it said (although this is a very general application — results may vary when different types of words and contexts are used), but was there really a university study to this effect?
Some additional resources for pursuing the origins of this item:

    • The Languagehat web site appears to have been the one to popularize it.
    • Uncle Jazzbeau’s Gallimaufrey, the science section of Slashdot, and Matt Davis from the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit of the University of Cambridge all have insight and ongoing discussion into the matter.
    • A January 2003 paper by researchers at the University of Edinburgh about “sublexical units and the split fovea” has been cited as an example of this type of research.

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One Comment
  1. Shankar Ganesh permalink
    January 7, 2007 5:23 am

    Saw an clip on this topic on National Geographic Channel

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