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Deconstructing the Cmabirgde Uinervtisy Rschereach Sramlcbe
by John D. Mitchell
December 24, 2003
Summary
Deconstructing a seductive language meme.

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Matt Davis of the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, UK, has deconstructed this wild meme that has been floating about lately:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde 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 be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

He's also collected a number of versions of the paragraph written in a wide variety of languages. [In this respect, a fun extension of this "experiment" is to immerse oneself in a situation where everyone around you is speaking a language that you don't know.]

This is a great example of how our "natural" intuition about complex subjects, such as languages, leads us to insidiously simplistic (mis)understanding.

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About the Blogger

John D. Mitchell is the Chief Architect of Krugle -- a search engine for developers. Along with developing and rescuing distributed enterprise systems, John advises investors and executives on technology and high-tech companies. Over the past 15 years, he has been the CTO of ElasticMedia, HealthLogic.com, jGuru and the MageLang Institute. John co-authored "Making Sense of Java: A Guide for Managers and the Rest of Us." He was the founder and contributing editor of the "Tips & Tricks" column at JavaWorld. John writes extensively on complex systems, development processes, computer languages and protocols, parsing and translating, and technological business risk management.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2003 John D. Mitchell. All rights reserved.

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