I know this is not the usual kind of fodder for loose wire, but it’s too interesting to pass up (and must have some application for PCs, no?): From Joi Ito’s excellent blog:
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, olny taht the frist and lsat ltteres are at the rghit pcleas. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by ilstef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
What I find particularly interesting about this is that no source is given, and yet the posting has already spread around the web like a bad smell. The Internet creates myths almost instantly — and some are harder to knock down than others. One reader on another blog has suggested the research comes from two California researchers, but on closer inspection that appears to refer to speech, notthe written word. Another poster suggests it has more to do with the redundancy of many letters in the English language but I’m not convinced either.
My tuppenies’ worth: we read logically. When we read, we narrow down the number of words that would make sense so by the time we get to a word, what that word could be is already quite limited. So if it’s misspelled, chances are we know already what it should be. Sure, part of it is pattern matching, so that we read a word as a whole, but if the sentence doesn’t make any sense, we quickly get lost.