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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 4 2013: I noticed that while I could read your post - slowly - it produced a mild headache similar to reading something out of focus. I also had to reread a few words and decipher them and replace them in to context. So though it may be possible to spell this way - it is slow and gives me a headache!
    I would NEVER read a novel or other long text produced in such a way - and I bet no one else would, either. So this study points to the fact that a few misspellings don't matter - but a lot of them are really annoying!
    This research might have some use in the field of dixlexia - if I spelled it right.
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      May 4 2013: We have some responses here from folks who have overcome d-y-s-l-e-x-i-a. Did reading the paragraph in the introduction give you a headache? Some of the examples in the response section are pretty obscure by comparison. I agree a jumbled novel would be a hard sell. Thanks Andrew!
      • May 5 2013: Yes, I really got a mild headache from reading the misspelling sample. It lasted only a few minutes, thankfully. And dixlexia was a mild joke that only lasted a few minutes as well.
        I do wonder if a computer could be programmed to read through misspellings like we humans can. Might be a handy trick - like with that terrorist who was missed because his name was misspelled on the passenger list. Hmm...
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          May 5 2013: Some TEDsters do not find dyslexia jokes all that funny, kind of like I don't like jokes about fat old men who struggle with all the new high-tech do-dads. :-D

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