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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 5 2013: Yff wi dydnt yoose speilleng eeght wud bea dighikultt tu onedurstande thynss, plos, trice tyu ys wurds lic riot wich haz diforint spelyngs foure defirynt meeneengs.

    And that's just one reason. ;)
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      May 5 2013: "If we didn't use spelling it would be difficult to understand this, plus, try to use words like riot which has different spellings for different meanings." That took about twice as long to read as it would have had you spelled everything correctly, that's a50% reduction in comprehension speed. If you do it again using the "Official Jumble Rules" (first and last letter correct with only the correct letters jumbled in between) I will be able to read it with a maximum 10% reduction in comprehension speed. Thanks Pamela!
      • May 5 2013: This response I find interesting. Only because you cite "official jumble rules". That you must follow a specific protocol. Is that truly different than spelling? Especially as you cite it. Just thought interesting in light of the thread.
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          May 5 2013: Very astute Everett! The rules I see observed in the Cambridge paragraph are no less rigid than the rules of Spelling. This means that Typogycemia a.k.a. The Scrambler Effect is not a free-for-all festival of verbal anarchy. Nonetheless, the ability of the brain to read BOTH with ease is remarkable.
        • May 5 2013: Except he left out the word tricky.... And got the whole sentence wrong.

          Look at the Bible, when the Hebrews didn't use vowels. There's a reason they later added vowels to their language.

          We use standardization to come up with an equal way of understanding. Language is a science, expression is an art.
    • May 5 2013: Interesting, Pamela!
      I had to actually read this out loud to make any sense of it.
      My daughter is learning how to write, and this reminded me of how she spells - phonetically.

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