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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?


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 2 2013: Well, Edward, it's certainly a lot easier and faster to type properly than jumbled!
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      May 2 2013: Now that is an ironclad argument Lizanne! The God-given ability to decipher, or un-jumble, written words is amazing to me. As you point-out it is not a better (easier) way to communicate but I think it is still pretty darn interesting. As for a useful application of the skill we have just one suggestion thus far in the debate. . . it could be used as way to control the seped at wihch the rdeaer is reading as a way to emphasize a certain point in the text. Thanks!
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        May 2 2013: Evolution sure has given us a remarkable ability for both auditory and written communication. When a system is ordered, like our system of mathematics, there is less ambiguity. With less ambiguity, the reader can be more sure of what the text is actually presenting.
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          May 2 2013: Agreed that clarity is inversely proportional to ambiguity and that the ability humans have to accomodate what seems like excessive ambiguity in written communication is remarkable. Perhaps we can argue the origin of the ability on some other occasion. Thank you Braden.
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          May 2 2013: I agree Braden, that evolution has given us a remarkable ability for auditory and written communication. Now, the good thing to do is maybe use it for better communications with each other:>)

          I do not perceive spelling as a "bother".....it's fun. And if I get it wrong, I am sure Edward will correct me, as he has done in the past. I don't need spell check......I have Edward:>)

          You are new to TED? Welcome
          You live in Burlington Vt.!!! Right down the road from me.....cool:>)
      • May 3 2013: "S1M1L4RLY, Y0UR M1ND 15 R34D1NG 7H15 4U70M471C4LLY W17H0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17."

        It looks like context and the idea of an 'auto-fill' is just about right, according to Marta Kutas, a cognitive neuroscientist and the director of the Center for Research in Language at the University of California, San Diego.
        Our brains can also find appropriate corresponding letters to match digits, like in the above example.


        I agree, Edward, it is fascinating.
        Any thoughts concerning typing-dyslexia? When typing fast and getting message across quickly, we all are prone to it...
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          May 3 2013: Holy Moley! I read that with no difficulty whatsoever! My mind(or what's left of it) is blown! Thanks for sharing this authenticated stuff. Isn't typing dyslexia really just motor error? For example I aimed at the "J" key but hit the "K" key. We are wonderfully made for sure. Thanks again Lizanne!
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          May 3 2013: That is funny and interesting Lizanne!!! I've seen lots of those little tests with jumbled letters.....they are sent by e-mail often. Never saw numbers added to the mix....can read it perfectly fine.....amazing what our brain can do!
      • May 3 2013: Isn't that neat? Only drawback is, you have to use caps, otherwise the digits don't work as well. Personally, I find reading caps is like someone is yelling at me...!

        What I meant with the typing dyslexia thing, was not so much a typo, like you described, but literally switching letters in mid-type: teh instead of the, yuo instead of you, etc. I do it all the time, and I often wonder why I do (and am grateful for an 'edit' button when I do).
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          May 3 2013: Really, I do that too (who doesn't?) and I figure it is a random motor malfunction or sloppiness caused by excessive rushing, not a predictable, habitual effect.

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