Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Things that come by email

How did we survive without some of the things that come by email? Perhaps, previously, they would never have existed. Here's the latest example, some correspondence between two friends on which I was copied.

This is weird, but interesting!

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it.

And the response:

It even works in our friend's new tongue, Icelandic:

Svmkmaæt rnsanókn vi? Cmabrigde hkóásla ?á stkpiir ekki mlái í h?vaa rö? stfiar í o?ri eru, ?a? enia sem stikipr mlái er a? frtsyi og stías?i stinaurfn séu á rtéutm sat?. Aillr hniir sfitarnir gtea vire? í aöljrgu rlgui en ?ú gtuer smat lsei? ?a? a?vuledlgea. Áæ?satn fiyrr ?sesu er a? mnnashgrniuun les ekki hevrn satf friyr sig hleudr oir?? sem hiled.

And the explanation:

Here's a link to the science, dating back several years. Whew, close call. I almost did a spell check on this posting!

9 comments:

lyette said...

I've heard this meme stated as common fact many times. Thank you for linking to the page that explains where it's wrong and the science behind it. Language comprehension is so fascinating.

Matt said...

I've had this email pass through my hands a few times. It always amazes me how seamlessly I can read it.

John Droney said...

But are the 55% better Scrabble players?

Paul Levy said...

Excellent!

me said...

I think it's amazing that with just 26 letters - odd little characters, really, when you think about them - we can communicate and make ourselves understood (mostly). It's fascinating that you can even get pretty close transliterations of other languages with the same set of characters. Every now and then, I wonder how different words came about - why different means different, why word is generally understood to mean word, why why means why? Funny things, words.

Sarah said...

Actually, it doesn't seem to work. I can't understand any of the Icelandic.

SFG said...

Is it your first language? I wouldn't be too surprised if your brain processes languages you're fluent in differently.

Sarah said...

No, it was a joke. You know the one about the guy who goes to the hospital with a broken arm? "Doctor, will I be able to play the piano?"
"After some healing time, absolutely."
"Amazing! I've never been able to play before"...

Patient Dave said...

Paul,

You MIT guys are *such* geeks. I figured out those basic principles the first time it came around in '03, but it takes SERIOUS geekitude to pursue it to THAT depth.

I know that your real intent in this blog is to slip some of this intellectual stuff in, unnoticed, while people are thinking about your other posts.