I was recently forwarded a link to this Snopes article.

According to the urban legend described therein, text is still readable if all the letters in a word apart from the first and last are randomized. I quickly threw together a Maple worksheet, primarily using its flexible string manipulation tools.

StringTools[Split] slices a sentence into the individual words.

listOfWords := StringTools[Split]("Maple is the essential technical 
computing software for today's engineers, mathematicians, and scientists.");

["Maple", "is", "the", "essential", "technical", "computing", "software",
  "for", "today's", "engineers,", "mathematicians,", "and", "scientists."]

You can then loop through each of the words in the split string and scramble the order of the middle letters (after first stripping out any punctuation and ignoring any words of three characters or less). This is a simplified version of the code I used.

tempWord:="technical":
middleCharacters:=tempWord[2..-2];
                                  "echnica"

scrambledCharacters:=combinat[randperm]([StringTools[LengthSplit]
(middleCharacters,1)])[];
                      "i", "e", "c", "a", "n", "h", "c"

 # also add punctuation back in if necessary;
cat(tempWord[1],scrambledCharacters,tempWord[-1]);
                                 "tiecanhcl"

Here’s a MapleNet version of the finished article, but the entire worksheet is attached to this post.

The concept (if, of course, there’s a cognitive basis for it) relies on pattern recognition and context.

We’re biologically programmed to see patterns everywhere. If collection of shapes and lines are arranged appropriately, we’ll create a connection to a mental structure that we’re already familiar with. After all, I’m sure you’ll have no problems in seeing a face in the following squiggles.

Context is important as well – we don’t necessarily expect to see the phrase “multidomain modeling” in a lullaby, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it popped up on Maplesoft’s website.

Of course, this doesn’t quite explain why one of my colleagues remarked that my emails make a lot more sense when they’re scrambled.

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