What is this linguistic perception phenomenon called?

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.


Is there a technical/academic term for it?

  • Can you please explain what it is you want to know? An excerpt is better than just a link. Thanks. – anongoodnurse Feb 22 '15 at 5:28
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    Better on Linguistics -- this is not specific to the English language. – Kris Feb 22 '15 at 6:41
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    What's truly fascinating for me is that this facility is not even specific to linguistics, but happens to be a general cognitive quality of Homo sapiens. For want of an established term (at least one that I'm aware of) for this general phenomena, I have always termed it "patterning" and, it would seem, that we look for and "recognize" patterns everywhere, even in what are called, the "fixed stars." – user98990 Feb 22 '15 at 6:47
  • This is true for English, which has a high level of redundancy in its spelling, but not necessarily true for other languages. For example, modern Hebrew is written without vowels, so mixing inner letters can produce words which were not intended. – No'am Newman Nov 4 '15 at 13:33

The phenomenon that a person can easily read a text composed of words whose inner letters are rearranged is called jumbled word effect or letter-position coding.

There are two mechanisms involved in this:

  • relative-position priming

    • a type of subset priming in which target word recognition is facilitated as a consequence of priming the word with some of its letters, maintaining their relative position (e.g., csn as a prime for casino).*
  • transposition priming or transposed-letter priming or transposed-letter effect

    • a type of priming when a transposed letter non-word is able to activate the lexical representation of its base word (e.g, casnio for casino)

Sources and further readings:

Related question: Is it true that only the positions of the first and last letter in a word matter, the rest can be scrambled?

  • +1 Also, it feels like we did discuss this before on this site. Or maybe not. – Kris Feb 22 '15 at 6:32
  • @Kris: Thanks. Apparently, it was discussed 4 years ago but the question is different. I included that as a related question. – 0.. Feb 22 '15 at 6:37

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