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Rants, Raves, Interesting Science & Awful Puns
September 17, 2003


Itneresintg Raednig Osberaviton

I got this from Sandra Hogan in Queensland, Australia. Not related--but it depends, maybe, on how far one goes back. I have an Irish cousin who's a nun at a convent in Macroom, County Cork, and also the family genealogist. She tells me that an ancestral John Hogan emigrated in the eighteen hundreds from County Clare in the west of Ireland, where the name originated, and gave rise to a proliferation of Oz branches that includes Paul of crocodile fame. (So if ya happen ta read this, Paul, mate, and yer ever short of a few quid, let me know. Keep it in the family, like, eh?)

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

(Actually, from other things I've read, I believe the ascenders and descenders act as cues too.) This is indeed how adults read, but not how they learn to read. Like so many other things where proficiency comes only after practice has created habit and consigned it to the unconscious, there's no way around having to begin with the laborious process we all remember (or do we, until we try to teach a child?) of spelling out the syllables and stringing them together. It underlines the absurdity of the "sight reading" fad foisted upon the schools some time back, which many hold to be a major contributing factor to the poor literacy and spelling abilities found today. A bit like telling a kid to watch Paganini on the violin and "just do the same."

Note added October 5, 2003
I got the following good counter-example from Dave Schilling, who passed it on from Semantics Etc..

Nreuuoms pmeeononnhs peossss uiapocmltecnd etaaoilxnpn; nwttdtsniinoahg, the pdseuo-snfiiiectc spssliiimtm is not snfiiiectc and eieecndvs are oetfn mdanleiisg.

Oh well, all generalizations have exceptions, I guess. But if that's true, then it isn't.

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