“Totes Cray-Cray Abbrevs” Ctd

Feb 1 2012 @ 9:55am

A reader writes:

Why do teenagers abbreviate everything? Because in many cases the letters in the middle of words are meaningless:

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.

Our minds are blown too. Another writes:

This puts me in the mind of landed gentry making up their own pronunciations of places to differentiate themselves from the local lower classes, or how the French Academy deliberately made French difficult in order to keep the lower classes from learning proper French.  Imagine early neighboring tribes finding ways to differentiate from competing tribes, achieving new dialects and maybe eventually new languages. Texting kids changing language is simply them trying to differentiate themselves from others.


Please tell me you saw this when it aired on "Parks and Recreation" a few weeks ago. The way Adam Scott's character says "Claymaish?" (abbreviating "claymation") is simply hilarious.

Update from a reader:

I’ve argued to friends whenever I see the "scrambled language" thing come up that it’s not utter bullshit, maybe, but ridiculously over-simplified, particularly when it claims it "doesn’t matter what order the letters are in." To wit:

"My iormseipsn is taht the lrtetes conant be TLTLOAY slrbacemd. Tehy hvae to be gporeud in tiher nitvae ctooannnss to ahevice a rvllteiaey idtmameie rtgiincooen. Fltmaiiriay aslo pyals a prat; if the ltteers of a wrod you do not kwon are sfefulhd wlily-nlily, yuor cnaehcs of bnieg albe to ipnrrteet the wrod whoitut a lot of etrxa wrok is etlsanlisey nil. And of csruoe, two- tgrouhh fvie-lteetr wdros taht hvae vrey lltite slfihfnug hlep yuor biarn flil in the cetxnot inlmseemy."

It’s a bit of a fine nit to pick, but there are enough real tricks to the way our brains interpret writing that are fascinating that I think a half-truth that’s been floating around the Internet for a decade now can be safely put to rest.

(Translating the above: "My impression is that the letters cannot be TOTALLY scrambled. They have to be grouped in their native consonants to achieve a relatively immediate recognition. Familiarity also plays a part; if the letters of a word you do not know are shuffled willy-nilly, your chances of being able to interpret the word without a lot of extra work is essentially nil. And of course, two- through five-letter words that have very little shuffling help your brain fill in the context immensely.")