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edward long

Association of Old Crows

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Why do we bother with spelling?

Unlike chess, in spelling the middle game is irrelevant. All that matters is the right choice at the beginning and the end. The middle letters, which must be the correct set of letters, can be completely jumbled and the reader will not be confused. To wit: "Arocdnicg to rsceearch 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 are in the rghit pcale. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit pobelrm. Tihs is buseace the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe." How can this little known God-given ability of the human brain be exercised to simplify, and perhaps improve, our lives? Any ttguhohs you cveelr TED fklos?

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Closing Statement from edward long

OK. OK. Spelling is important and we should continue to teach it and all the rules associated with it to those learning how to read, speak, and write our language. From Silverstein to Shakespeare; from subjects like cryptography and dyslexia, this debate was spirited and very much worth while. From the Netherlands to China we TEDsters hashed-out our feelings on this skill we call Language. It makes sense that the subject of written communication would interest TED folks, after all, what is more crucial to TED Conversations than wtitten communication? I asked two questions. Both were answered. We bother with spelling because it permits standardized rules of written communication. And, the only possible beneficial application for the remarkable ability of the human brain to unjumble familiar words almost as fast as reading correctly spelled words is to jumble words as a way to draw attention to them and add emphasis. We learned the idea of jumbling and unjumbling words is known in the academic world as TYPOGLYCEMIA, and THE JUMBLING EFFECT. Taht's all floks!

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  • Apr 28 2013: To facilitate communication; Imagine reading everything where the words where written like in the paragrah in you initial post, and you encounter a word that makes no sense to you whatsoever, how would you know how to spell it and look it up. Imagine having a dictionary like that? Life would suck, really.
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      Apr 29 2013: Ah, the old dictionary enigma: You must know how to spell a word before you can look it up in a dictionary. Also, the interesting thing to me in this is the mind's ability to scan the jumbled word and recognize the intended word. That just amazes me. I doubt if jumbled words have any actual potential for keeping life from sucking, really. Thanks for the insight!
      • Apr 29 2013: I paly word jumbles almost everyday. As you know taht the game requires re-scramble several unrelated words, thus it is harder than to "decode" them within a well formed sentence.. My experience gives me an estimate of at least 5 to 10 times longer, on average to arrive at a final answer.
        BTW, your topic and discussion here also give me a suggestion that, in the spell checker software, there shouldn't be too much effort to improve the way of pointing out the misspelled words by replacing them with the correct ones (but still red-underline them). Then the typist would either go back to just make one click, over each, to consent, or they will be shown as the correct spelling when one hits the "submit" button.
        Of course, for text-chatting. a separate software can be written for both spelling and translation for the purpose of submission, for example, to TED talks, thru a smartphone or iPad. Because I needed double the typing time on a smartphone to input the same content by the touch screen than by the normal sized keyboard.
        I purposely left the 2 misspelled words at the top, but they are actually my frequent MISTYPING words anyhow for an unknown reason.
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          Apr 29 2013: I think the spell checker writers want you to have the option to intentionally misspell a word so they do not automatically fix everything. Do you find jumbled words much easier to solve if the first and last letters are correct? I think that is the key to the brains extraordinary ability to nearly instantaneously know what word is intended.
      • Apr 29 2013: To answer your question of about the degree of difficulty in solving the jumbled words is certainly depends on the knowledge of the positions of of one or two letters in the original word. But it also helps if the jumbled form consists of certain combination of the consonants and vowels. For example, the combination of letters like q & u, m & p or b, and others could lead to less guessing possibility. Another possible easy form is that the jumbled form consisted only one vowel and 3 or 4 consonants., then the single vowel can usually sit in the middle in the 2nd to the 4th position, because it's very rare that 4 consonants all bunched together before or after the lone vowel.
        I also apply a technique for the solution which depends on my guessing of the final assembly of the circled letters in the hinted combined solution. When that is known, then I could pinpoint the relative positions of the missing letters from the unsolved jumbled word. For instance, if the final solution has 3 missing letters, then these 3 would have to be located in the 3 circled positions in unsolved jumbled word. Of course this knowledge couldn't be as helpful as knowing exactly the very first and the last letters.
        For the computer software application, I believe that the relative positions of the alphabets in the jumbled word is not too much necessary. The computer can simply work out all the permutations of the letters to find a fit in a mini-second. I think that it can even work out a 6-letter word from only 5 letters given, in a very short time, etc.
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          Apr 30 2013: The Word Jumble is a famous, venerated,syndicated favorite which I have never found easy to solve. That is why this Cambridge study intrigues me so. I read the jumbled words with very little difficulty so long as the first and last letters are correct AND the there are no missing or extra letters in the jumble. We are getting a lot of explanations and history from the TED brain trust which adds to the intrigue for me. Why is it so esay to raed wehn the wrdos are jmlubed? Shouldn't there be a beneficial application of this skill?

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