'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Sunday, 24 August 2008

Order of letters

Acocdrnig to an Elgnsih unviesitry sutdy the oredr of letetrs in a word dosen't mttaer, the olny thnig thta's iopmrantt is that the frsit and lsat ltteer of eevry word is in the crcreot ptoision. The rset can be jmbueld and one is stlil able to raed the txet wiohtut dclftfuiiy.


  1. This is very profound post and it shows that people who say "the trouble with teaching reading today is that they don't teach phonics!" are looking at a very narrow understanding of how the reading process works. This post shows that we do not in fact "sound out" as we read.

    --- Now phonetic analysis IS very important in reading but it is not the be all and end all as your post shows. Our reading also draws on other cues such as:
    Meaning, Syntactical cues (does it make sense, can we say it like that) and visual cues - with the phonetic understanding of letter/sound relationships very important.
    Using MSV readers build a sophisticated "self extending system" which with practise enable them to read automatically and unconciously just as when we do fast word processing on a typewriter or computer.

  2. Wlel dmenotartsed Kthriaene.

  3. I wuold lkie, hwoveer, to pniot out taht, at lsaet in teshe epmlaexs the mdldie lttrees are the smae oeens that apeapr in the oanigirl wrod.

    Things would get pretty dicey if you began to substitute other letters for the ones we know are actually in the intended word.

    I agree with Tillerman: it ain't all phonetic analysis.

  4. I wonder, 'though, gentlemen, if we should separate out the teaching of reading, and this phenomenon. I suspect that new readers would have difficulty reading those sentences, if at all.
    As experienced readers, we are not only familiar with the 'shapes' of words (attack and grab...whatever you want to call it) but also are very good at anticipating what is LIKELY to follow... The example I gave in my post intentionally followed a fairly logical development.
    As you say, Tillerman, the reading process is complex, but I think the cues we use probably alter with reading experience.

    Tehn aiagn, I may be wonrg!


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