Letter Order Unimportant

University researchers demonstrate that letter order is unimportant to reading comprehension?

Claim:   University researchers demonstrate the order of letters within words is unimportant to reading comprehension.


Status:   Undetermined.

Examples:




[Collected on the Internet, 2003]

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


[Collected on the Internet, 2003]

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 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. ceehiro.



Origins:   This little bit of intriguing linguistic trivia stormed through inboxes in September 2003. That the order of letters within words is relatively unimportant to reading comprehension as long as the first and last letters are in their proper places seems to be self-evident, as demonstrated by the ability of nearly everyone who came across this item to understand what it said (although this is a very general application — results may vary when different types of words and contexts are used), but was there really a university study to this effect?

Some additional resources for pursuing the origins of this item:


  • The Languagehat web site appears to have been the one to popularize it.
  • Uncle Jazzbeau’s Gallimaufrey, the science section of Slashdot, and Matt Davis from the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit of the University of Cambridge all have insight and ongoing discussion into the matter.
  • A January 2003 paper by researchers at the University of Edinburgh about “sublexical units and the split fovea” has been cited as an example of this type of research.

Last updated:   9 July 2007

 

Snopes.com
Since 1994
A Word to Our Loyal Readers

Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.

Editorial
  • David Mikkelson
  • Doreen Marchionni
  • David Emery
  • Bond Huberman
  • Jordan Liles
  • Alex Kasprak
  • Dan Evon
  • Dan MacGuill
  • Bethania Palma
  • Liz Donaldson
Operations
  • Vinny Green
  • Ryan Miller
  • Chris Reilly
  • Chad Ort
  • Elyssa Young

Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.

We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.

Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.

Team Snopes