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The Science of Word Recognition

michael posted about 10 years ago | from the paris-in-the-the-spring dept.

Science 430

neile writes "I stumbled across a fascinating paper over at the Microsoft Typography site today that provides a really nice overview of the different theories on how humans read. If you thought we read by recognizing word shapes, think again! With the assistance of fancy eye-tracking cameras researchers have been able to devise several clever experiments to give us new insight into how reading works." We've linked to some of Larson's work previously.

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REKANYZE! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136685)

Microsoft? (1, Funny)

oKtosiTe (793555) | about 10 years ago | (#10136688)

Did I just read what I think I read? (Pun intended)

Re:Microsoft? (0, Flamebait)

niggar cock lol (808111) | about 10 years ago | (#10136875)

Yes, you did, you fucking hippy. What? Can't take it that good quality, money making corporations [microsoft.com] are actually doing something for society, wheras fucking hippies [linux.org] are not?

This comment is completely off topic. I suggest it be modded down. Fucking Lunix hippys.

AAAAAARRGGHHH, I'm going blind! (5, Funny)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | about 10 years ago | (#10136689)

Would one of those stupid comments about the colour scheme on /. be on-topic now?

Re:AAAAAARRGGHHH, I'm going blind! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136731)

Well look on the bright side, You won't have your eyes burnt by goat.cx and tubgirl or any of the GNAA posts

Re:AAAAAARRGGHHH, I'm going blind! (-1, Troll)

Zorilla (791636) | about 10 years ago | (#10136759)

The results are in on the goat.cx OCR scan:

O

Re:AAAAAARRGGHHH, I'm going blind! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136806)

shurley:

E O 3

Re:AAAAAARRGGHHH, I'm going blind! (2, Funny)

tahii (758556) | about 10 years ago | (#10136873)

Yes, yes it would.

For all those wanting this post in an eye-shattering colour, Click here [slashdot.org]

Honest!!! (5, Funny)

TheWingThing (686802) | about 10 years ago | (#10136708)

I was reading what was written on her T-shirt!

Re:Honest!!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136715)

and it said "If you can read this you are a fucken perv"

Re:Honest!!! (5, Funny)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | about 10 years ago | (#10136734)

I liked the t-shirt that said,

(in big letters) If you can read this,

(in slightly smaller letters)you obviously must have

(in still smaller letters)very good eyesight.

(in smaller letters)While you're down here, why don't you give me a blow job?

Re:Honest!!! (1)

Bayleaf (809062) | about 10 years ago | (#10136837)

I like the one available now fromt the Register http://www.cashncarrion.co.uk/cnb/shop/cashncarrio n [cashncarrion.co.uk] . There are 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those wo don't.

Ahem... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136985)

Why is this [dailykos.com] the first image that popped into my head?

Oh no! (3, Funny)

barcodez (580516) | about 10 years ago | (#10136713)

So are Microsoft going to patent the way we read and then sue?

"If you are reading this then you owe Microsoft royalies"

Re:Oh no! (0)

ImaLamer (260199) | about 10 years ago | (#10136788)

Oh, you didn't see? That was on the bottom of the page:

If you are reading this you may already be part of a patent lawsuit!

Defence: (1, Funny)

CrazyDuke (529195) | about 10 years ago | (#10136995)

I couldn't read the patent, your honor. Or the S&D order... Or the summons... Or the directions to the courthouse...

aaah!! eyes hurt! (1)

virtualone (768392) | about 10 years ago | (#10136718)

when i see that microsoft page, my eyes start to hurt, because i can hardly read the navigation!

or do you think that super-small renerding on firefox is intended by them?

Whine:aaah!! eyes hurt! (1, Flamebait)

poohsuntzu (753886) | about 10 years ago | (#10136754)

Right, because we have the "Increase Text Size" option in firefox for shits and giggles. Use it, instead of complaining about font size without considering browser differences, resolution differences, installed font differences, and firefox features.

Re:Whine:aaah!! eyes hurt! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136844)

Yes, but have you tried it on the MS site? hint: it does nothing.

Re:aaah!! eyes hurt! (5, Funny)

The Grassy Knoll (112931) | about 10 years ago | (#10136891)

>renerding on firefox

re-nerding! ha ha. Best... typo... ever...

Re:aaah!! eyes hurt! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136978)

Try crtl+, ctrl+ to increase the text size

Re:aaah!! eyes hurt! (4, Informative)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 10 years ago | (#10136999)


dunno, firefox / moz has one of my favourite features

tools ... options ... general .... fonts & colours .... minimum font size : 14

great for annoying "web site designers" who can't design for shit

Re:aaah!! eyes hurt! (1)

cs02rm0 (654673) | about 10 years ago | (#10137024)

when i see that microsoft page, my eyes start to hurt, because i can hardly read the navigation!
or do you think that super-small renerding on firefox is intended by them?


No... I just tried it in IE and it's just the same!

Comments (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | about 10 years ago | (#10136722)

Anyone else too lazy to read the entire thing? Also, I'm curious as to dyslexia.

Read it... (2, Insightful)

zoney_ie (740061) | about 10 years ago | (#10136821)

Read it, it's interesting. It does get a wee bit weird when it's describing how you read as you read... a sort of super-conciousness about my eye movements. It's like when you become aware of your breathing or something and then have to conciously pay attention to it for a while to make sure it doesn't stop!

Article in short... (4, Informative)

uss_valiant (760602) | about 10 years ago | (#10136848)

Further examination of the evidence used to support the word shape model has demonstrated that the case for the word shape model was not as strong as it seemed. The word superiority effect is caused by familiar letter sequences and not word shapes. Uppercase is faster than lowercase because of practice. Letter shape similarities rather than word shape similarities drive mistakes in the proofreading task. And pseudowords also suffer from decreased reading speed with alternating case text. All of these findings make more sense with the parallel letter recognition model of reading than the word shape model.
Of course he describes all the models before he concludes that from the three models, Word Shape Recognition (oldest), Serial Letter Recognition and Parallel Letter Recognition (newest), the latter is the one that is today the most accepted model.

Re:Comments (2, Informative)

t0c (658568) | about 10 years ago | (#10136869)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3618060.stm [bbc.co.uk] is a good read about dyslexia it isn't exactly related but you might be interested :)

I'm not sure I buy it. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136730)

His "word shape" matrix with "than" "tban" "tnan", etc; could be more easily explained by saying that people pay more attention to tall letters than short ones. That would explain why 'tban' gets caught more than 'tnan' just as well as word-shape arguments.

To make it more obvious, stick a tall letter in a word that only has short letters and you'll come away thinking word shape does matter.

(or did he explain it... there were way to many words and way too few glossy pictures in that article for me to comprehend it)

In related news... (3, Funny)

Zorilla (791636) | about 10 years ago | (#10136741)

New technology will soon be revealed that will instruct Slashdot users on the proper spelling of "lose".

The USSGN (Union of Slashdot Spelling and Grammar Nazis) is expected to stage protests against the new product in the interest of keeping their jobs.

You can take a horse to water... (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about 10 years ago | (#10136783)

When Slashcode starts spell-checking we may be able to retire, but until then the rate at which people are instructed in the difference between "lose" and "loose" is probably less than the rate at which people join /. and greater than the rate at which people improve their spelling.

Re:You can take a horse to water... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 10 years ago | (#10136988)

A spell checker would not help you with "lose" or "loose".

eye checked this before using the spell cheque.

Re:In related news... (1)

flmngbrd (795007) | about 10 years ago | (#10136800)

a lot of them seem to spell things like "omg, wtf j00 l00s3r?! pwn3d!!!!11!
____________________
Watch Shitty Kung Fu Movie Clips [shittykungfu.com]

No biggy (1)

zoney_ie (740061) | about 10 years ago | (#10136834)

You just need to be a bit more lose about it all. There's no need to loose the rag!

(Actually, I don't know HOW anyone can be content with the misspellings. But then, I don't see how Americanese holds water either.)

Re:In related news... (1)

scotta451 (802667) | about 10 years ago | (#10136929)

I would fix the blame squarely on David Beckham and English footballers. If allegations are correct, he really is a Loos-er. Flash forward 50 years, you'll find loose in the Wiktionary as an accepted alternative spelling, complete with etymological reference to Becks. But how exciting to see the english language degrade during your lifetime!!

Eye movements? (4, Interesting)

ImaLamer (260199) | about 10 years ago | (#10136743)

With the assistance of fancy eye-tracking cameras researchers have been able to devise several clever experiments to give us new insight into how reading works."

Oh they must have been using EyeQ [infmind.com] ....

I can read at 44692 words per minute! Thanks for posting that long article for me to read, I needed the exercise.

And thank you EyeQ! Your the greatest!

Really though, they say that the more letters/words mean faster reading times [microsoft.com] . It's true. Think about a book or article you've read. When the words are together on the page it's easier to read because your eyes can jump around letting your brain fill in the blanks.

Ever read something that made sense but you couldn't quote it word for word? It's likely because you read in this same way.

Re:Eye movements? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136767)

Not much to seen in the article, thought. As said at the end:

"During my first year with the team I gave a series of talks on relevant psychological topics, some of which instigated strong disagreement. At the crux of the disagreement was that the team believed that we recognized words by looking at the outline that goes around a whole word, while I believed that we recognize individual letters. In my young career as a reading psychologist I had never encountered a model of reading that used word shape as perceptual units, and knew of no psychologists who were working on such a model. But it turns out that the model had a very long history that I was unfamiliar with."

Which roughly translate to:

I had my PhD without doing my homework, and have been ridiculous a few times since. Here is what my teachers forgot to teach me about reading.

Re:Eye movements? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136855)

And thank you EyeQ!
Your the greatest!


Reading good. Spelling not so good.

eyeQ torrent at suprnova.org (0, Flamebait)

Zeroth_darkos (311840) | about 10 years ago | (#10137035)

There's a torrent for eyeQ at suprnova.org for those who don't mind pirated software.

Quotation (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136747)

"Evidence from the last 20 years of work in cognitive psychology indicates that we use the letters within a word to recognize a word."

Man, I'm so glad they finally figured this out...

Re:Quotation (1, Insightful)

Shisha (145964) | about 10 years ago | (#10136851)

It's not bloody funny! The parent, in a true Slashdot style, didn't even get what the subject of the paper was!

The question pondered is whether _experienced_ reader reads by, in the first place, recognising the word shape, or by recognising the letters.

P.S. yes I know that psychologists are great for stating the obvious, but not here...
P.P.S. to parent: read the article properly, I'm sure you'll find a nice funny case of stating the obvious.

Re:Quotation (1)

Illserve (56215) | about 10 years ago | (#10136898)

it's funny.

I love how (5, Insightful)

FS1 (636716) | about 10 years ago | (#10136748)

Does anyone else think that merely analyzing how english is read is very closed minded? I'm pretty sure only a very small percentage of the world speaks and reads english.

I would love to see a study comparing how english is read to how chinese is read by native speakers. Very interesting i would gather.

Re:I love how (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136774)

> Does anyone else think that merely analyzing how english is read is very closed
> minded? I'm pretty sure only a very small percentage of the world speaks and
> reads english.

I don't care about them! I'm interested in how my mind works, not other peoples. If we can develop methods of reading English faster then who cares if it works for other languages. They can work that out for themselves if they're bothered, have the necessary skills/motivation etc.

Re:I love how (3, Interesting)

defMan (175410) | about 10 years ago | (#10136789)

I would personally be very interested in seeing english compared to dutch or german. In those languages (i'm a native dutch speaker) the word order is much more flexible and the determining verb often comes very late in the sentence. In german this is more prominent than in dutch.

I just searched around on google and these documents come up
Word Order in German [about.com]
Kathol's analysis of German Word Order [let.rug.nl]

Though comes before language (4, Informative)

alanxyzzy (666696) | about 10 years ago | (#10136812)

I would love to see a study comparing how english is read to how chinese is read by native speakers.
There is an interesting article at the Harvard Gazette [harvard.edu] about research which seems to show that thought comes before language. The Korean language distinguishes between two meanings of "in" - fitting loosely or tightly.

Research shows that

Infants of English-speaking parents easily grasp the Korean distinction between a cylinder fitting loosely or tightly into a container. In other words, children come into the world with the ability to describe what's on their young minds in English, Korean, or any other language. But differences in niceties of thought not reflected in a language go unspoken when they get older.

Re:Thought comes before language (3, Interesting)

achurch (201270) | about 10 years ago | (#10137026)

Infants of English-speaking parents easily grasp the Korean distinction between a cylinder fitting loosely or tightly into a container. In other words, children come into the world with the ability to describe what's on their young minds in English, Korean, or any other language. But differences in niceties of thought not reflected in a language go unspoken when they get older.

Absolutely. And adults can "relearn" those distinctions, too; I found that as my Japanese studies progressed (started at 19, pretty close to native now) the range of things I was able to think about expanded considerably--so much so that now I sometimes have trouble speaking to people in English because English doesn't have a word for the concept I'm thinking about.

Re:I love how (4, Interesting)

ImaLamer (260199) | about 10 years ago | (#10136817)

You're right. It would seem that for better analysis comparing Hebrew/Chinese to English would be better.

Maybe we can learn even more about our way of reading, like: Is it the most efficient?

Is right to left, or left to right the best way to go.

Interesting side note (don't know why I'm bringing this up...) President #20, James A. Garfield could write in both Latin and Greek at the same time?

Re:I love how (1)

meringuoid (568297) | about 10 years ago | (#10136946)

Is right to left, or left to right the best way to go.

Isn't that more a consequence of the fact that most people write with their right hand?

Re:I love how (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136849)

Close minded to study the language you and majority of your country speak? How so? No doubt the Chinese spend their own time and resources studying Chinese languages.

English is spoken natively by about 8-9% of the worlds population. To the 16% that speak Chinsese natively. English is the most spoken second language in the world. These results would apply at least partially to French, German, Spanish or any language that uses the same alphabet and word structure. Now I doubt that constitutes a small percentage of the world does it?

Re:I love how (4, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | about 10 years ago | (#10136942)

There are roughly 400 million people with English as their first language, true, but there are even more with English as a second language. If you're looking to select a language to base a study on, and you want it to be accessible, then you choose English. It really is that simple.

Also, Chinese is character-based, not letter-based, so the research would be completely different. Kind of like asking someone who's studying jet aircraft to study cars as more people have them.

Re:I love how (1)

Anonymous Writer (746272) | about 10 years ago | (#10136996)

Also, Chinese is character-based, not letter-based, so the research would be completely different.

Yes, but could there be a similarity in that reading Chinese involves recognition of strokes the same way that reading in English involves letters? FTA...

Fixations never occur between words, and usually occur just to the left of the middle of a word. Not all words are fixated; short words and particularly function words are frequently skipped.

Perhaps reading Chinese involves focusing on the strokes of the right side of a Chinese character, since they are read right to left, while some characters can be skipped entirely.

Re:I love how (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | about 10 years ago | (#10136982)

There is an interesting study of reading of Chinese versus English, in the context of understanding dyslexia:

"The researchers, led by Dr Li-Hai Tan believe that this region is implicated because reading Chinese is a different mental task compared with reading an alphabetic language.

With an alphabetic language, reading is done sequentially - the letters are recognised and broken up into blocks of sound which are then matched to a known meaning.

But with Chinese, the reading is more like parallel processing, in which the brain has to seize the meaning of the pictogram almost as simultaneously as it figures out its sound."

I can't get the link to appear properly as a link, apologies, here it is anyway:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3618060.stm

shapes.. (-1, Offtopic)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 years ago | (#10136749)

@ must be clippy then..

so whenever you're emailing THINK CLIPPY and you'll get a nice edge into your mail.

Typography (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136752)

The creators of Word giving advice on typography. Do they have no sense of irony?

Reading about how we read (5, Interesting)

DrFrasierCrane (609981) | about 10 years ago | (#10136756)

While reading the article, I suddenly become hyper-aware about how I was reading the article. :-)

Don't let the Microsoft name scare you off - the article makes for a fascinating look (pun intended) into how we read. I wonder, though, if these findings are duplicated with written Oriental languages.

What about other writing systems? (4, Interesting)

mocm (141920) | about 10 years ago | (#10136757)

Since most people in the world don't use the latin alphabet, it would be interesting to find out how word recognition works for them. And how they read words in our alphabet.

4 Gmail invitations giveaway (-1, Offtopic)

shine-shine (529700) | about 10 years ago | (#10136761)

Seeing how I got my invitation throught a giveaway right here on slahshdot, I'll "pay it forward," so to speak.
I will email an invitation to each of the first four people to reply to this post (just don't forget to provide me with some form of a human-readable email address).

Re:4 Gmail invitations giveaway (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136784)

okram at anacronia dot it ;)

Re:4 Gmail invitations giveaway (-1, Offtopic)

Phaedrus_100 (784535) | about 10 years ago | (#10136794)

I would absolutly love a gmail invite. phaedrus_100@yahoo.com

Re:4 Gmail invitations giveaway (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136797)

ua.ten.ecapsten_at_wuodrevg

Re:4 Gmail invitations giveaway (-1, Offtopic)

shine-shine (529700) | about 10 years ago | (#10136815)

Maybe this is human-readable, but not to this human right here (no tld?).

Re:4 Gmail invitations giveaway (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136857)

.au ! (it's backwards)

Re:4 Gmail invitations giveaway (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136945)

aye @netspace.net.au

Re:4 Gmail invitations giveaway (-1, Offtopic)

RWerp (798951) | about 10 years ago | (#10136813)

thanks! rwerp -- a/t -- gazeta -- d.o.t. pl

Re:4 Gmail invitations giveaway (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136816)

I'd like one
fred at andilar dot com

Re:4 Gmail invitations giveaway (0, Offtopic)

ArGeRuS (222391) | about 10 years ago | (#10137019)

whohoo, I would love to have one, slashdot@guldkusten.com

Reduced Redudancy (3, Informative)

plasticmillion (649623) | about 10 years ago | (#10136766)

This got slashdotted!? The idea of recognizing words by "word shape" seems so silly to me that I almost feel as if the author is attacking a straw man rather than a widely accepted linguistic theory.

The final conclusions are similar to what I learned in my college linguistics classes 15 years ago. Language contains a lot of redundancy. The reason is that we often encounter situations of so-called "reduced redundancy". For example, someone might have sloppy handwriting so you can't make out all of the letters. Or you might be talking to someone while they brush their teeth. If language were highly optimized, we wouldn't understand a thing in these situations, but because of redundancy we can usually communicate very effectively.

The same applies to reading. The conclusions of the paper seem trivial to me. Of course, reading exploits "visual" and "contextual" information. How else would be understand a sentence like "The boy ate a ham___er" (with a few letters obscured)?

The fact that the brain's neural net adds up the weighted lexicographic, syntactic, semantic (and even pragmatic) information available to it in order to interpret language should be familiar to anyone who's read Goedel, Escher, Bach. And that was published in 1979...

Re:Reduced Redudancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136776)

"The boy ate a hammer" ?

Re:Reduced Redudancy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136793)

Hammer?

Hamper?

Hamster?

Hamburger?

Which is it? I'd go for Hamper, taking all the evidence (Hammer is an unlikely food, Hamster slightly less so, Hamburger has too many extra letters for Occam's Razor)

Re:Reduced Redudancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136795)

I read that as hamster...

Re:Reduced Redudancy (1)

meringuoid (568297) | about 10 years ago | (#10136934)

obManiacMansionBowdlerisedNESVersionQuote:

No way, man! Those things are, like, full of cholesterol!

Re:Reduced Redudancy (0)

Jugalator (259273) | about 10 years ago | (#10136798)

This got slashdotted!?

Not everyone has read Goedel, Escher, or Bach in linguistic classes. :-P

Re:Reduced Redudancy (1)

zoney_ie (740061) | about 10 years ago | (#10136843)

"The boy ate a ham___er"

No automatic recognition here.

Hamster?

Hammer?

Re:Reduced Redudancy (1)

ImaLamer (260199) | about 10 years ago | (#10136863)

How else would be understand a sentence like "The boy ate a ham___er" (with a few letters obscured)?

How else would be understand?

Case in point.

Re:Reduced Redudancy (1)

plasticmillion (649623) | about 10 years ago | (#10136865)

Ok, ok! Sticklers are we? So this is why geeks are unpopular... ;-)

My point was probably clear but perhaps a better example would have been "hamb___er". Didn't know there were so many hammer/hamster eaters out there...

Re:Reduced Redudancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136894)

My first thoughts were 'The boy ate a hamster' but perhaps thats more an indication of my mental state and past hamster eating experiences than of the effectiveness of contextual information!

Re:Reduced Redudancy (4, Interesting)

Placido (209939) | about 10 years ago | (#10136897)

>> How else would be understand a sentence like "The boy ate a ham___er" (with a few letters obscured)?

What a way to prove your point. I kept thinking "hamster", "hammer" and then eventually realised that I didn't spot your miss-spelling of 'we' and that I read right over it and filled in the blank.

Re:Reduced Redudancy (2, Interesting)

Da Twink Daddy (807110) | about 10 years ago | (#10136928)

I filled in the blank with hamster [Making it: "The boy ate a hamster"], but maybe I'm just an oddity.

Re:Reduced Redudancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136954)

"The boy ate a ham___er"

He ate a hammer?
He ate a hamunderliner?
He ate a ham and cheese sandwich maker?
He at a hamburger? (lucky lady from Germany!)

How we read... (2, Interesting)

stupid_is (716292) | about 10 years ago | (#10136791)

A while ago I was emailed something that stuck out from the usual chain/joke/... flood. Basically it had a very long and badly spelled sentence, where the only rules followed were that the first and last letter in the word were in the correct position. You could read it easily. Go figure!

Hree is an epamxle of jsut taht, it's qitue esay to raed, ins't it? Agulohth it can get plluartraicy hrad wtih the lgnoer wdros.

Re:How we read... (1)

stupid_is (716292) | about 10 years ago | (#10136827)

Guess I should have read the "previously" link!
Doh.

Re:How we read... (5, Informative)

Johan Veenstra (61679) | about 10 years ago | (#10136867)

The example:

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.

But soon enough there was a counter example:

Anidroccg to crad cniyrrag lcitsiugnis planoissefors at an uemannd, utisreviny in Bsitirh Cibmuloa, and crartnoy to the duoibus cmials of the ueticnd rcraeseh, a slpmie, macinahcel ioisrevnn of ianretnl cretcarahs araepps sneiciffut to csufnoe the eadyrevy oekoolnr.

In the counter example, the letters are not randomly scrabled, the letters are in reverse order, except the first and last letters.

Re:How we read... (2, Funny)

djmurdoch (306849) | about 10 years ago | (#10136971)

Anidroccg to crad cniyrrag lcitsiugnis planoissefors at an uemannd, utisreviny in Bsitirh Cibmuloa, and crartnoy to the duoibus cmials of the ueticnd rcraeseh, a slpmie, macinahcel ioisrevnn of ianretnl cretcarahs araepps sneiciffut to csufnoe the eadyrevy oekoolnr.

This would be a lot easier to read without that misplaced comma.

So ... (4, Insightful)

Pegasus (13291) | about 10 years ago | (#10136808)

when are they going to repeat these experiments in let say China or Japan? I'm *very* interested in what would the conclusions be there.
For what i know abaout japanese, they don't use spaces between 'words'. A single kanji represents the whole word and their outline is always more or less square. So the whole bouma theory fails here, as he finds out.
I'm sure they could leard more interesting things in other writing sysmtems ...

Re:So ... (1)

meringuoid (568297) | about 10 years ago | (#10136864)

For what i know abaout japanese, they don't use spaces between 'words'. A single kanji represents the whole word and their outline is always more or less square.

That would probably be Chinese. Written Japanese seems to be a mix-and-match job involving two native phonetic alpabets (one all spiky and angular, and one with a lot of letters that look like pretzels), one imported phonetic alphabet, and lots of Chinese pictograms for good measure...

Re:So ... (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 10 years ago | (#10136952)

Kanji = picture-based
English = character-based

It's like comparing apples and oranges - two completely different ways a written language is interpreted.

rn vs. m (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10136811)

My native language is not English. Since the very early days of English learning, I've noticed there are certain vague character combinations: (1) rn vs. m; (2) l vs. 1.

This was a very interesting paper. (3, Interesting)

PotatoHead (12771) | about 10 years ago | (#10136814)

I found myself becoming aware of how I read while I read. Fun! I agree with the author regarding letter recognition. The parallel aspect of word recognition is very interesting as well because it begins to explain why we are albe ot raed srcambled txet os eaisly!

Also, more work needs to be done to consider the visual cues outside the focus of attention. It is here that, I believe, shape and form cue the reader, more than letter shapes do, as to the potential content of the text to come. (Exactly how is for the geniuses.)

Focuses on 1 script, 1 language (4, Insightful)

kahei (466208) | about 10 years ago | (#10136824)


While some of the results here are interesting (but old), the fact that the entire study focuses on exactly 1 script and 1 language basically renders the conclusions worthless (as conclusions about cognition in general... I suppose they still have value as conclusions about English and the Latin script).

What has happened here is:

1 -- Observe people reading a given language/script

2 -- See how they make use of features of that particular language/script, such as tall letters, case, and the occurrence of 'skippable' words such as articles

3 -- Describe the way they use these local features, and call that a theory of reading in general.

I don't really understand how to apply a theory of reading based on word and letter shapes when there are so many people reading text in which:

--There are no letter boundaries, and/or
--There are no word boundaries, and/or
--Letters all have the same form factor

The experiments described would probably generalize very well to arabic and greek scripts, pretty well to cyrillic (no tall/short letters to speak of), badly to devanagari-type scripts, very badly to Chinese and Japanese, and not at all to hieroglyphics (though I agree that there may never have been a reader of hieroglyphics who was fluent by modern standards).

To pretend that these experiments apply to humanity in general rather than the author's own language/script choice is silly. It's an interesting article and I'm glad the research was done but unfortunately a certain failure to 'get' the multilingual nature of humanity, which I don't really expect to find in MS work, is in evidence here.

Re:Focuses on 1 script, 1 language (5, Insightful)

hazem (472289) | about 10 years ago | (#10136889)

Everybody seems to be giving this guy a hard time because he did his research for reading only English. My guess is that the guy reads/speaks English and has ready access to people who do the same. This research is a good start and seems to have valuable results.

Now someone else can work on a PhD Thesis by taking his work and seeing if it applies in other languages.

Isn't this how science works? You do research, try to make some conclusions, and publish the results. If you wait to publish until you've found the Grand Unified Theory of Everything, then nobody publishes anything and science doesn't advance at all.

I'm not sure that he missed anything. He has started with what he knows and has resources to study.

Please (2, Informative)

tgv (254536) | about 10 years ago | (#10136826)

Although it is nice to see mentioning of my trade a /., this paper has about the status of a student's essay. It doesn't even mention literature after 1998!

It's funny it doesn't speak about... (-1, Redundant)

Arthur B. (806360) | about 10 years ago | (#10136912)

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.

Well, it does in a way. (3, Interesting)

BigRedFish (676427) | about 10 years ago | (#10137018)

The FArticle does, in fact, address this, though not directly - it puts forth a theory that all letters in a word are absorbed simultaneously, and the brain re-orders them. This is given as theory #3, admittedly a ways down.

This gets me thinking, though, about the importance of context. If you drew the letters PLEORBM in a Scrabble game, it might take a while to see the word staring at you. But in the context of a (mangled) sentence: "you can sitll raed tish wouthit a pleorbm," it much more easily jumps out. Interesting.

SLOW DOWN (1)

geekster (87252) | about 10 years ago | (#10136913)

AND READ WHAT I HAVE TO SAY... if I had anything to say that is... but now we have another reason to yell at the ones who write in all-caps

or maybe it's both? (4, Interesting)

Illserve (56215) | about 10 years ago | (#10136919)

If there's one real take-home lesson of brain-design from cognitive science, it's that the brain tends to do everything several different ways in parallel, and then use the results from all of them.

Obviously it can't all be shape, there are plenty of words with identical shapes and yet these are distinguishable.

But it could certainly be true that we use shape and parallel letter recognition at the same time. Shape narrows the field of possibilities from millions to a small handful, and then parallel recognition chooses one of the options.

Whatever happens, you can be sure it's terribly complicated, extremely robust and very efficient.

Interesting (0, Troll)

Kurayamino-X (557754) | about 10 years ago | (#10136964)

They seem to have forgotten that you can recognise a lot of words wtih the letters out of order as long as the first and last letters are in the right spot. in fact there was a slashdot article on it a while ago.

Don't shout! (4, Interesting)

meckardt (113120) | about 10 years ago | (#10136977)

From the article: ...lowercase text is read faster than uppercase text. This could also explain why nobody likes to read email where the other person uses all caps.

FTA... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Writer (746272) | about 10 years ago | (#10137008)

Why I wrote this paper

I am a psychologist who has been working for Microsoft in different capacities since 1996. In 2000 I completed my PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of Texas at Austin studying word recognition and reading acquisition. I joined the ClearType team in 2002 to help get a better scientific understanding of the benefits of ClearType and other reading technologies with the goal of achieving a great on-screen reading experience.

I'm surprised this guy is actually working with ClearType. That is just a simple way of making characters appear better by using sub-pixels to increase character resolution. I would think this type of work would be better applied in optical character recognition, maybe even with cursive handwriting.

Microsoft Research Web Site (5, Informative)

Numen (244707) | about 10 years ago | (#10137028)

If there's those that have shied away from Microsoft, well because they're Microsoft, you might not be aware of http://research.microsoft.com which regardless of which side of various fences you might sit has some very interesting material and is generally worth tracking over time.

Aplogise for the tangent, on the back of this article seemed an apt place to point to the MS research site for those that might not of been aware of it.
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