Jumbling Letters Automated

Okay. Unless you’ve been under a blog rock, read no discussion boards and get no email, you’ll have seen that forward beginning “Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy…” claiming that words are comprehensible even if the letters are jumbled, as long as the first and last letters are the same. No, I’m not going to post that again – it’s far too widespread for me to even consider doing that.

(There’s an interesting analysis of the spread of this meme on this entry on Uncle Jazzbeau’s Gallimaufrey, by the way.)

However, what I have done is automated the process. You can check it out by going to the Word Messer and pasting some sample text. Of course, words should be more than three letters for this to be of any use.


  1. eurotrash Said,

    September 16, 2003 @ 8:19 pm

    Boollcks. I tried Engilsh, Fenrch, Liatn and eevn Presian pteory and it slitl wroked. Why do I want to braek it so badly?

  2. omnihilo Said,

    September 17, 2003 @ 1:23 am

    It works in many cases, but take this sentence for instance:

    “calling theatres spitting graphing ” Okay, it’s not a sentence at all, just random words, but look at the result:

    “claling tethaers stipting gpirahng”

    Any way you could modify it to keep double-letter pairs together? Also things like ‘ph’ being scrambled tend to screw up the comprehension.

  3. Will Said,

    September 17, 2003 @ 1:04 pm

    It doesn’t like long words much. “Antidisestablishmentarian” dies, but not as badly as “floccinaucinihilipilification” does. (And yes, I am the sort of smartarse who instinctively feeds that kind of input into this kind of program. There’s always one.) I suggest it should only try a few swaps per word, regardless of length.

  4. fridgemagnet Said,

    September 17, 2003 @ 7:56 pm

    Well, I could limit letter pairs and numbers of swaps, but that wouldn’t really test the basic theory, that it doesn’t matter what you do in the middle of a word as long as the first and last letters are the same. It really doesn’t work for words with more than about ten letters, or anything unusual. I think it says more about the vocabulary it’s usually tested with than anything else.

  5. jim Said,

    September 20, 2003 @ 3:59 pm

    Length, of course, is part of it, but not entirely. The jumbled word “uinervtisy” is longish, but not so hard to unscramble. I still think that context (i.e., being used in a syntactically simple sentence) and closeness of the scrambled letters to their “correct” position in the word have more to do with ease or hardness of being deciphered.

  6. fridgemagnet Said,

    September 20, 2003 @ 4:04 pm

    Closeness to their original position, and pairs like “th”, “er” etc are most significant IMO. Longer words will provide more opportunity for letters to be far from their original position and make it more likely that pairs are broken up.

  7. Just Me Said,

    October 15, 2003 @ 11:00 am

    Oh well, it’s better than my effort.

    But I did lose interest afetr a VERY short time.

    P.S. I know that mine doesn’t keep punctuation in the right place.

    Try mine here:


  8. mike Said,

    January 28, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

    I stumbled onto your site by first tripping over your “Automatic Word Messer”. I was looking for a quick way to play around with the order of letters in a particular phrase and your code seemed the perfect solution. Of course I am thrilled with my discovery because I have now been introduced to your wonderful blog and I find it most entertaining. I have a question however: Is there any way to modify the code such that the first and last letters are also scrambled? I know that this was not your intention…but it would serve my purposes splendidly. If I knew how to modify the code I would, but I don’t. It seems that it would have something to do with this line: $word = $first.(join “”, @shuffled).$last

    Any response other than hostility would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  9. mark Said,

    April 14, 2006 @ 11:01 pm


    Thanks for making this web toy available – hate to criticise but can I suggest an amendment to check if the randomly letter-jumbled word turns out to be the same as the original word? Cause I can see this happening, e.g.

    hi erevoyne – I was iipsnred to wrtie a pgrraom to aaltctaomiuly jlumbe wrods but first googled to check and srue enuogh someone else has alraedy dnoe it