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Jumbled letters

Multiple colored wooden letters

There is a fascinating paragraph with jumbled letters on the internet that you may have run across:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch 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 porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

(According to a researcher (sic) at Cambridge University, it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself but the word as a whole.)

I found this very interesting and tried to find out more about it. It appears that the original source cannot be tracked down and it apparently is not from Cambridge. Even though there is some truth to the claim, it is not entirely true.
Short two and three letter words are especially easy since they won’t change if the first and last letters stay the same. Four letter words are easy as well since only two letters will swap place. For the longer words, changing letters that are next to each other is easier to read than letters that are further apart (e.g. “porbelm” instead of “pborlem” for “problem”).
When we read, we often pay attention to the way it sounds, so leaving that intact while jumbling letters makes it easier to read as well (e.g. toatl vs ttaol for total).
To show how much more difficult jumbled letters can be, try reading the following sentences; they become progressively more difficult to read:
1) A vheclie epxledod at a plocie cehckipont near the UN haduqertares in Bagahdd on Mnoday kilinlg the bmober and an Irqai polcie offceir
2) Big ccunoil tax ineesacrs tihs yaer hvae seezueqd the inmcoes of mnay pneosenirs
3) A dootcr has aimttded the magltheuansr of a tageene ceacnr pintaet who deid aetfr a hatospil durg blendur

Need some help?
1) A vehicle exploded at a police checkpoint near the UN headquarters in Baghdad on Monday killing the bomber and an Iraqi police officer
2) Big council tax increases this year have squeezed the incomes of many pensioners
3) A doctor has admitted the manslaughter of a teenage cancer patient who died after a hospital drug blunder.

Information taken from http://www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/people/matt.davis/cmabridge/

 

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