TED Conversations

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: Come on, everything today has spell checker. No mind games, no superior mental challenges, if it is underlined in red, click and pick the correct spelling. No one has to spell incorrectly. Which brings me to the next best thing on the keyboard, the delete key. I use that when I correct my spelling and find my writing makes no sense...like now
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      May 5 2013: Your writing makes plenty of sense Mike. You are right that no one HAS to spell incorrectly. The debate here is centered more on the brain's ability to accomodate poor spelling without losing the point of the communication. Does that remarkable abilty mean we could relax the rigid spelling rules we all grew-up with? And, is there a functional benefit to be realized by exploiting this built-in spell checker/auto correct?
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        May 5 2013: I have read that there is a portion of the brain that deals with language. like cones and rods in the eyes, different cells react to differing languages, so the cells that can interpret Chinese are not the same as those that do English. Worse, if one language is learned the cells unused deteriorate, which explains why I am unable to master any other language then babble in my old age. the skills of which you speak must lie in an differing brain location. Like people who do jigsaw puzzles... how do they do that? Another skill which I was not blessed or cursed as the case maybe.
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          May 5 2013: Wow! Different brain cell types for different languages? That never occurred to me before. Good questionMike. Thanks.

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