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Typoglycemia: Wikis

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Typoglycemia is a neologism given to a purported recent discovery about the cognitive processes behind reading written text. The word does not refer to any actual medical condition related to hypoglycemia. The word appears to be a portmanteau of "typo", as in typographical error, and "glycemia". It is an urban legend/Internet meme that appears to have an element of truth to it.

The legend, propagated by email and message boards, purportedly demonstrates that readers can understand the meaning of words in a sentence even when the interior letters of each word are scrambled. As long as all the necessary letters are present, and the first and last letters remain the same, readers appear to have little trouble reading the text.

One email message reads thusly:

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. Such a cdonition is arppoiatrely cllaed Typoglycemia :)- Mbaye taht's why FCUK T-srihts are so cmoomn?
Amzanig huh? Yaeh and you awlyas thguoht slpeling was ipmorantt.

No such research was carried out at Cambridge University. The creation of such email messages started with a letter to the New Scientist magazine from Graham Rawlinson in which he discusses his Ph.D. thesis:

In a puiltacibon of New Scnieitst you could ramdinose all the letetrs, keipeng the first two and last two the same, and reibadailty would hadrly be aftcfeed. My ansaylis did not come to much beucase the thoery at the time was for shape and senqeuce retigcionon. Saberi's work sugsegts we may have some pofrweul palrlael prsooscers at work.The resaon for this is suerly that idnetiyfing coentnt by paarllel prseocsing speeds up regnicoiton. We only need the first and last two letetrs to spot chganes in meniang.

Scrmabling, an anagram of scrambling, is the verb for rearranging the letters in a word, but leaving the first and last letters as is.

References

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