I’m pretty sure that at least once over the past few years, your inbox has seen that email that claims you can read words no matter what order the letters are in. Here, this one:
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.
I’ve received this email no fewer than a dozen times. Here, allow me to reenact my reactions for you.
First time: “Dude, no freaking way!! That is the coolest thing EVVVVVVVVVVAAAAAHH!!”
Second time: “Still pretty neat.”
Third time: “Eh, seen it.”
Fourth time: “You know, those words look awfully easy to figure out.”
Fifth time: “Yeah, I’m totally calling BS.”
Sixth time: “If I see this email one more time, I’m going to scream.”
Seventh-twelfth times: “Aaaaaaaaagggghhhhhhh!!!”
Because, really, when you stop and think about it, there’s no way that’s true. English is one of the most difficult languages in the world. Our dictionary is chock-full of nine—ten—eleven—twelve-letter-long words. Words that only freakishly smart eleven-year-olds know how to spell. String together a sentence containing a few of those babies, and what do you have?
Wehn yuor hsophiytes is sunzrciietd it is trogohlhuy esieevrcatd at the irutdiooicnn of clpaocemtid, pobylsalliyc wrods.
If you sit and stare at it for a while, you can probably figure it out. But not so easy to just gloss over like you’re reading US Weekly.
So HA! Take that, Cambridge researchers!! You fact fudgers, you!
(P.S. “When your hypothesis is scrutinized, it is thoroughly eviscerated at the introduction of complicated, polysyllabic words.”)