"If oyu cna raed tih3 , p4else go aeahd rdeaing eth wolhe txet….." was the beginning of a typewritten passage which I could read without much difficulty. And I wondered why it was possible for me to do so. The article which followed also gave the explanation as to how the human brain can decipher the words from the jumbled lot and take the correct meaning out of it...The phenomenon is otherwise called Typoglycemia.
Typoglycemia is defined as a neologism for purported recent discovery about the cognitive process involved in reading text. The word is portmanteau of " typo" for typographical error and " hypoglycemia".
If you are getting an impression of reading an extract from "Nature" or "American scientist" you are mistaken. I have only quoted from Wikipedia. In simpler terms, it conveys that the human brain has the capacity to figure out the intended word by looking at the first and last letter even if the spelling is wrong or jumbled. Rather, the brain is seasoned to choose the word ( correct or incorrect based on experience) which it is familiar with.
I am certain that the phrase " A for appeal" would be read as " A for apple" by most of the readers as it is firmly etched in the memory disc right from the kindergarten days……..! I still remember the Australian cricket commentator referring to the Indian bowler as Submarine whereas his real name was Subramanian……! It becomes a habit of the brain to recognize any unknown word with a similar and familiar one in mind when identification becomes difficult….
The human brain acquires this cognitive capability through experience, sensory inputs and rational analysis. Such skills are used to comprehend and recognize the correct words hidden in jumbled spellings. This store house of skills is also deployed to strategize a hit on a fast/spinning cricket ball for a six or to judge the amount of force to be applied to lift a piece of material by judging its colour, size, texture etc.. But this judgement may fail miserably if a bundle of cotton fibre neatly painted like a hard rock is handled.
Perhaps the autocorrect has been developed to avoid typos and to reduce the strain on the brain in deciding the correct word. It must have been developed with inputs from the widely used dictionaries, rule books of grammar and syntax of the language etc. Though it has been useful, my over dependence on the auto correction has landed me in trouble more than once.
Let me give you a few examples.
When I typed Dinesh Weds Priya , it appeared as Dinesh welds Priya. When it was typed for a second time , the correction came as D " beds" P ( a bit precocious, I thought).
Worse was when I messaged a colleague of mine about her aunt, a learned Philosophy professor whom I met during a conference. " It was worth spending good time with your aunt" was the message I was about to send. Had I not noticed the correction in the last word on a second reading before clicking the "send" command , I would have been behind the bars under section IPC 294….!
When a friend of mine from Delhi, messaged me sitting in Kumarakom resort ascertaining what dish to order to go with idiyappam. I sent him a reply promptly. Two days later he disclosed that the manager refused to serve that preparation as it was nowhere in the menu. I had suggested duck curry. The autocorrect played the truant which made him blush in front of his family and friends…
The moral of the story is that it is always advisable to use one's own brain power carefully with circumspection (this word was corrected by auto correct twice…….you can very well guess that word….! ). Let me conclude by quoting an anecdote which my professor told alongside a small addendum….
In an entrance interview for admission to the MBBS course a jumbled word was given for correction…….NIPES…. with a clue as one of the most important organ of the body....Those who answered "spine", got the admission…….Those who thought of something else had to be satisfied with other courses...….…..
started writing blogs…...