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Thread: Typoglycemia - Is there more to it?

  1. #1 Typoglycemia - Is there more to it? 
    Forum Masters Degree Implicate Order's Avatar
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    Ok so I am a laggard and you probably have already discussed it, but I have only just come across this. Typoglycemia. Apparently a recent discovery emanating from a PhD thesis submitted by Graham Rawlinson in 1976 at Nottingham University. Urban legend or something to it?

    I love pattern recognition and am actually intrigued by the capacity of the brain to make sense of apparrent gobbledygook, provided in this context that the position of the first and last letter of each word are faithfully preserved. Is this simply a conditioning or is there something deeper to it in the way the brain actually processes information? Does the same effect occur with a different culture's perception of their native languages and their particular method of reading text?

    "I cdn'uolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg: the phaonmneel pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rseearch taem at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Scuh a cdonition is arppoiatrely cllaed Typoglycemia. :-))


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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    This is a rather old myth. From that Wikipedia page: "... purported recent discovery ... It is an urban legend/Internet meme ... No such research was carried out"

    Yes, we are fairly tolerant of some misspellings but it clearly has some affect on readability. The example given by the guy who started it all is almost unreadable, in my opinion.

    As he says, his results are preliminary and time limited. I think the shuffling probably needs to take account of higher level structures than just letter order; e.g. shuffling at the level of digraphs, trigraphs or syllables may preserve more legibility. More work needed.


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    Godo stuff. It shwos that the brian taeks in inofrmtaion from the letters present in words, rather than the sequence of said letters. It doesn't surprise me. Generally, the visual field of humans is not interpreted in a sequential order from right to left, but all at once. So written information comes in all at once as well, and the presence of certain letters together defines a word, more than the sequence.
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    Forum Masters Degree Implicate Order's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    This is a rather old myth. From that Wikipedia page: "... purported recent discovery ... It is an urban legend/Internet meme ... No such research was carried out"

    Yes, we are fairly tolerant of some misspellings but it clearly has some affect on readability. The example given by the guy who started it all is almost unreadable, in my opinion.
    Thanks Strange I was a bit thrown however when I navigated to here which suggested that the research had been carried out (albeit in a very limited fashion). It does smell fishy however and was probably a thesis prepared in the last few days before deadline in a pub somewhere....using darts & lager's as supplements ...but as you say, readibilty is not significantly impaired.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Implicate Order View Post
    ...but as you say, readibilty is not significantly impaired.
    That can be true, in some (perhaps contrived?) cases, but I was actually saying that I really struggled to read Rawlinson's example. But that might be because my job involves a lot of proof-reading, looking for errors.

    It would be interesting if someone did more work on this, perhaps using Hamming distances or something to measure how big changes can be before readability is lost. It might also be interesting to see how this correlates to other things; maybe levels of dyslexia, peoples ability to spell, etc.

    (p.s. I had added a bit to my previous post - perhaps after you commented...)
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    Forum Masters Degree Implicate Order's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    It would be interesting if someone did more work on this, perhaps using Hamming distances or something to measure how big changes can be before readability is lost. It might also be interesting to see how this correlates to other things; maybe levels of dyslexia, peoples ability to spell, etc.
    Agreed.

    Actually where I came across this was at a risk management presentation today relating to the topic of complacency in the workplace through repetetive work practices (....and due to boredom during the presentation I started thinking about the possible association with this word salad pattern recognition to reduced levels of awareness as in subconscious versus conscious awareness).....a bit ironic that I was day dreaming with this notion when I should have been focussing on the messages of 'complacency' during the presentation. :-))
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    A classic example of that in UI design is software that pops up "Are you sure" messages too often; the user just gets in the habit of clicking "Yes" without thinking. They need to be rare to be effective.
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    Forum Ph.D. stander-j's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    This is a rather old myth. From that Wikipedia page: "... purported recent discovery ... It is an urban legend/Internet meme ... No such research was carried out"

    Yes, we are fairly tolerant of some misspellings but it clearly has some affect on readability. The example given by the guy who started it all is almost unreadable, in my opinion.

    As he says, his results are preliminary and time limited. I think the shuffling probably needs to take account of higher level structures than just letter order; e.g. shuffling at the level of digraphs, trigraphs or syllables may preserve more legibility. More work needed.
    To me it seems like the two scrambled messages that were easy to read were phonetically similar to their intended messages, whereas the mechanically inverted message was not. I wouldn't be surprised if that plays a role as well.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stander-j View Post
    To me it seems like the two scrambled messages that were easy to read were phonetically similar to the intended message, whereas the mechanically inverted message was not. I wouldn't be surprised if that plays a role as well.
    You may be right. It seems it is more than just beginning/final letters and overall shape (as some of the "urban legend" emails claim).
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