Old Language & Distorted Text

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2 years ago

In this article, I will discuss two things related to language: old language and distorted language.

Old Text

This is from the anonymous English Tudor comedy Jacke Jugeler (Oldest known editions are from the 1560s.)

"Tyll he came at a corner by a shoop's stall

Wher boies were at dice, faryng at all.

When Careawaye with that good cumpany met,

He fell to faring withouten let,

Forgettyng his message, and so well dyd he fare

That whan I came bye, he gan swere and stare

And ful bitterly began to curse

As oone that had lost almost all in his porse,

For I knowe his olde gise and condicyon

Never to leave tyll all his mony bee goon,

For he hath no mony but what he doth stell

And that woll he plaie awaie every dell."

The language confuses and fascinates many modern readers. A few words are hard to understand due to an archaic spelling.

For instance "faryng", which is a game played with dice on those times - playing at fare. "Withouten let" means without restraint; and "dell" is bit, piece, or deal.

I must admit that I like this archaic style; that is, when it suits the subject, not otherwise. I shudder when I see old texts carelessly and insensitively modernised, by which much of their specific character is lost. If it is 500 years old, let it be visible!

Chaucer (ca.1343-1400), for instance, what would be left of his personality if he were brought to modern language? Is not the style part of his charm?

He was a veray parfit gentil knight.

(Canterbury Tales. Prologue.)

Ful wel she sange the service devine,

Entuned in hire nose ful swetely;

And Frenche she spake ful fayre and fetisly,

After the scole of Stratford atte bowe,

For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe.

(Canterbury Tales. Prologue.)

For May wol have no slogardie a-night.

The seson priketh every gentil herte,

And maketh him out of his slepe to sterte.

(Canterbury Tales. The Knightes Tale)

Or, how about this verse by Gower?

The kynges foole

Sate by the fire upon a stoole,

As he that by his bauble plaide.

Local language can have the same character-carrying function. Or it can be both old and local, as in this Jacobite Song:

Sae licht's he jumped up the stair

And tirled at the pin;

And wha sae ready as hersel

to let the laddie in.

Distorted Text; What is This?

evitcepsrep eht gnignahc yb ytilaer fo stcepsa wen revocsid”

It is not some obscure language. Incomprehensible as it might look, it is really quite easy - and it is plain English. Those of you who don't see that are the ones who really need learning to do what it speaks about: to change the perspective.

evitcepsrep eht gnignahc yb ytilaer fo stcepsa wen revocsid”

Just read it reversed; then it says: “discover new aspects of reality by changing the perspective”.

It is fascinating that a simple change as this makes the text so difficult to understand for many readers. The human mind is not flexible when it comes to changed patterns - or “thinking outside the box”, as it is popularly called.

As a matter of fact, reading is usually a matter of recognition, not exact reading of every letter. You recognise whole words, or even phrases, and you do it even if they are not spelled right. Indeed, most people would not even notice occasional misspellings, unless the word is too distorted for proper comprehension - that is, as long as the major pattern is unchanged.

When we are seeing whole sets of letters (words) instead of single letters, or a set of anything instead of its single constituents, it is called “chunking”.

Let's look at an example of this. Read this text:

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a word are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a tatol 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.”

Despite terribly mishandled typing, it's easy to understand.

Fact is, we mainly recognise the consonants, because consonants are the significant parts of a word. I have discussed that before, so we will not delve on that here, just give an example.

Look at the sentence “discover new aspects of reality by changing the perspective”, and write only the consonants: “dscvr nw spcts f rlty b chngng th prspctv”. Still recognisable!

But what if we write only the vowels? “ioe e ae o eaiy y ai e eeie”. Pure gibberish!

Related articles:

Rhyme & Reason: Verse, Structure, & Memory

Anagrams, Palindromes, Cryptarithms and Alphametics

On the Genealogy of Script I & II

On the Genealogy of Script III - VIII

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2 years ago


I jsut lneart soemtinhg new.

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2 years ago

This kinds of distorted languages were mainly used by williams shakespear in his writing days. They look difficult but in the real sense, they are not

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