TED Conversations

edward long

Association of Old Crows

TEDCRED 100+

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

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?

+4
Share:

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!

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    May 3 2013: We bother with spelling for reason of law and agreements and contracts. If we didn't, i feel that we would have a lot of people getting the "wool pulled over their eyes" and cheated out of their rights because of these manipulations.
    • thumb
      May 3 2013: Ah so. Who would sign a contract which read: "I hereby relinquish all rights to all my WRLDOLY belongings." ? Good point sir. But what about the fact that you probably easily understood while reading the contract that the intended word was actually WORLDLY? Any thoughts on application for that skill?
      • May 3 2013: Maybe the difference lies in what is printed 'black on white' and what we understand to be true?
        An intention often doesn't hold up well in a court of law...
        • thumb
          May 3 2013: Specificity is everything in matters of law. I think a contract is nullified by a misspelled, or incorrect word. OK, fine, we can't use our typoglycemic skills in court. But what about elsewhere?
      • May 3 2013: Perhaps purely for brain gymnastics? You could come up with some great paragraphs and play with context to try and stump the brain, see if it would still get the gist. An Alzheimer's-stopper if ever I heard one.
      • May 4 2013: Wonderful!!
        I would also say, as a sort of code... but in retrospect, if it's this easy to read, it wouldn't help much to write down secrets in this fashion!

        Another observation - you substitute the "L" with a "3", but I personally find the "1" visually more similar to an "L" and the "3" more like an "E"... Nonetheless, I could read it perfectly.
        Also, in your example, you've kept the first and last letters intact. Is that necessary in understanding the meaning when digits are involved?
        Perhaps, as long as the use of digits is consistent, it doesn't matter which digits are used, again, due to context?

        W1147 1F 1 U53D D1G175 70 SU85717U73 4LL 7113 L3773R5?

        Problem - there are 26 letters and only 10 single digits... Using double digits to symbolize a letter could be mistaken for two separate 'letters'...

        I can actually feel my brain workin out right now!!
        • thumb
          May 4 2013: Gads woman! The CIA called, they have a job for you. Good point about graphic similarity. In your sample I struggled with "7113". . . wait, I see what you did. You substituted 11 for H because of graphic similarity. That's a problem. The scramble/digit sustitution method works even with a 10-digit limit. Maybe we could substitute punctuation marks for letters?
      • May 4 2013: ¥0µ 700% 7∏3 ≈0®D5 ®1@∏7 0µ7 0ƒ π¥ π0µ7∏!

        I did try to choose symbols that looked as much like the letters as possible, but if you can read this, I'd be amazed...
        The exclamation point at the end is actually an exclamation point, by the way, which leads us to another speed-bump - use of punctuation itself.
        • thumb
          May 4 2013: I took the words right out of your mouth? I know not how. Cryptography seems to be closely related to the Cambridge Paragraph this post is based upon. Deciphering your latest effort took deliberate effort, it was not at all automatic like the effortless reading of the Cambridge Paragraph. Incidentally, notice how the proper spaces between words facilitates deciphering. If you run all the characters together the task is much more daunting, Thanks Lizanne!
      • May 4 2013: Well done! I am impressed.
        Good point, negative space is as important as positive, like Debussy said: "Music is the space between the notes."

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.