Can you read these words?
Here is the answer
You’re probably familiar with the famous bit of ” internet trivia” depicted above; it’s been circulating since at least 2003.
At first glance, it appears to be legitimate. Because you can read it, correct? While the meme may have some element of truth, the reality is invariably more convoluted.
According to the meme, if the start and ending letters of a word are in the correct positions, you can still read a piece of writing.
We have restored the message in its entirety.
“According to a study conducted at Cambridge University, it is irrelevant what sequence the letters of a word are in; what is critical is that the first and end letters are in the proper positions. The remainder can be a complete mess and you will still be able to read it without difficulty. This is because the human mind does not read each letter individually, but rather the entire word.”
Indeed, there was never a Cambridge researcher (the initial version of the meme circulated without that modification), but there is some science to the fact that we can comprehend that particular jumbled phrase.
The effect has been dubbed “Typoglycaemia,” and it works because our brains rely on more than just what they see. They also rely on what we expect to see.
In 2011, while performing unrelated research, researchers at the University of Glasgow discovered that when something is veiled or ambiguous to the eye, human minds can predict what they believe they will see and fill in the blanks.
“Our brains effectively design an immensely sophisticated jigsaw puzzle using whatever pieces are available,” researcher Fraser Smith remarked. “These are provided by the environment in which they are viewed, our memories, and our other senses.”
The meme, on the other hand, is merely one aspect of the story. Matt Davis, a researcher at the University of Cambridge’s MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, was curious about the “Cambridge” assertion, believing that he should have heard of the research previously.
He was able to trace the first demonstration of letter randomisation to a researcher named Graham Rawlinson, who completed his PhD thesis on the subject in 1976 at Nottingham University.
He conducted 16 studies and discovered that, while people can recognise words when the middle letters are jumbled, there are significant exceptions, as Davis points out.
- It’s significantly easier to accomplish with short terms, owing to the fact that there are less variables.
- Because function words such as and, the, and an are so brief, they tend to remain constant. This benefits the reader by keeping the structure and facilitating prediction.
- It is easier to translate nearby letters, such as porbelm for difficulty, than it is to translate more distant letters, such as plorebm.
- None of the words in the meme are jumbled to form another term – Davis cites wouthit vs witohut as an example. This is because words with only two adjacent letters that differ in position, such as calm and clam, or trial and trail, are more difficult to read.
- The words retained the majority of their original sounds – order was changed to oredr rather than odrer, for example.
- The text is replete with predictable passages.
Additionally, it assists in keeping double letters together. For example, it is considerably easier to decipher aoccdrnig and mttaer than it is to decipher adcinorcg and metatr.
There is evidence that ascending and descending parts are also involved – that what we are recognising is the structure of a word. This is why mixed-case text, such as alternating caps, is so difficult to read – it fundamentally alters the shape of a word, even when all of the letters are in their proper positions.
Similarly to body language, some gestures are easy to be interpreted and some signs are hard to be captuted.