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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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  • May 1 2013: It took me slightly longer to read portions of the poorly spelled middle section. I think that rather than why do we bother with spelling maybe the question should be asked on when we should intentionally use this phenom to add tonal information. We can speed up or slow down the speed at which I read a document, and I am guessing others have similar reaction.
    People are also trying to guess the intelligence of the person writing. Misspelled words tend to denote unfamiliarity which often leads people to shrink the importance of what is being said. Conformity to gain acceptance is my best guess on why spelling is so important, but I approve of challenging this idea often.
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      May 1 2013: Interesting sir, thanks for your thoughts. You posit that some folks bother to maintain accurate spelling habits to avoid appearing intellectually inferior. That makes sense to me. It would apply in other academic disciplines as well. You think the phenomenon could be used to control reading speed? If I, as the writer, want to slow you down in tihs setocion I cuolld jbumle the spelling and then return to proper spelling? Hmmm.

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