Lorem ipsum

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Lorem ipsum

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:50 am

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksb ... older-text
"The apparently random Latin placeholder text, used to help design pages, has been translated. Despite the absence of meaning, it's weirdly mesmerising."
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Re: Lorem ipsum

Post by Phil White » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:08 pm

Erik_Kowal wrote:
"Despite the absence of meaning, it's weirdly mesmerising."
That's rich, coming from the Grauniad.

Yet I am nostalgic for the days of the occasional ETAION SHRDLU appearing in print.

Or the bloody noses of old-style typesetters walking into glass doors with PUSH and PULL labels that are equally readable to those who could read type from a forme. I speak from painful experience.
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Re: Lorem ipsum

Post by Phil White » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:59 pm

Good God, Erik. You have inadvertently opened up a whole new world for me.

I cannot remember a time when I have not been able to read at any orientation. Upside-down, from the side and even mirror writing. I was once clipped round the ear by the headteacher of my primary school for reading a passage of a book to him with the book upside-down. But I swear I had no idea. I was not even aware that I was starting at the bottom. I suppose as I got older, I simply got into the habit of holding a book in my left hand and turning the pages from left to right, but it would be equally as easy the other way round.

The same with mirror writing. The reference to the glass doors above is (slightly) true. I once visited, of all places, a print shop and was confronted with a glass door with the label "PULL" and a push plate, but no handle. I actually stood in front of it confused before pushing the push plate and entering the reception office. I pointed out to the receptionist that they had the wrong label on, and she pointed out that there were two labels, "PUSH" on the push side and "PULL" on the pull side. On a glass door, I simply could not tell which was the right one (and had only seen the wrong one anyway).

Be that as it may, since I lost most of my sight, I find it impossible to read printed material. I can see nothing whatsoever to the right of what I am reading or above the line I am reading, and there are quite large gaps below as well. If I read "whatsoever to" above, I can see "wha". That's it. If I look at the word "to", I can see nothing to the right of it, but am aware of the "shape" of the word "whatsoever" and can move on to it, because I can see it is on the same line.

A couple of days ago I had my annual appointment at the optician, the optometrist and I were joking that I should learn Arabic, and maybe I could read again.

I just took a screenshot of a Web page and inverted it horizontally (mirror writing) and it worked to a degree. I could stumble my way through a text, although I have to have it magnified so much that I can only see two or three words at a time anyway.

And reading a printed page upside-down has the same effect. The difference is only marginal, and would not allow me to read a real chunk of text, but I can find my way round an invoice far better.

So thanks for reminding me of an otherwise useless talent I had forgotten I had!
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Re: Lorem ipsum

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Mar 24, 2014 7:54 pm

I believe that most people with normal reading ability could train themselves to read both mirror writing and inverted text with a fairly high degree of competence. The need encourages the ability: most people aren't very good at these activities because the usual types of situation they encounter don't require them to be.

That being said, I would assume that above-average exposure to written text in general (especially if it occurs early in life -- think 'eight-year-old bookworm') must also make it inherently easier to read inverted or mirror text. As you hinted at above, Phil, we become familiar with (and unconsciously memorize) the physical shapes of the words we frequently read, and logically this familiarity should be useful when attempting to read abnormally-oriented text.

On a slightly different track, I've noticed that if I'm reading something under difficult circumstances (for instance, on a very distant object, or a truncated word, partially obscured words or dimly-lit text), it makes a difference if I already have some idea of what the text is likely to say. In other words, having an accurate perception of their context increases the legibility of words.

To give another example, a monoglot speaker of English will find it much easier to decipher a high-frequency English word viewed under difficult circumstances than to decipher a high-frequency Dutch or Italian word.
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Re: Lorem ipsum

Post by Phil White » Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:01 pm

There's a difference between training yourself to do something and being entirely unable not to do it. It is not always useful or desirable. When I was teaching, I quickly found out that I was pretty well stuffed when using an overhead projector. I had to consciously think whether the first word on a page was in the top left corner. Only then was the slide the right way up. I resorted to putting a mark on the corner that went next to the arm. Strangely, as soon as there was an image that had a correct orientation on the slide, I had no problems. Sheep do not (usually) have their feet in the air. Symbols, such as arrows and flow charts, on the other hand, have no correct, natural, orientation, and even the knowledge that the first word belongs in the top left was of limited use as I seem to have problems translating left and right as they relate to a page to left and right in reality, although I have no problems with left and right when navigating, for instance. It's a bit like talking about someone else's left and right hands when they are facing you. Even now, if I think about it too hard, I can get confused. Is the left of the page always the side the writing starts on, even if the page is inverted, which would make the writing start on my right (which I am confident about).

Oddly, though, I found that ragged right margins with blocks of text always helped me a little. Running headers and page numbers were also a good clue, although page numbers at the top of a page in a novel (justified text and no other visual clues) would bugger me. Of course, all that went on in a split second before I sussed which way up a document should be, although it really made no difference to me. I guess I trained myself to put things the right way up because I was corrected at school and got odd looks at work.

But, as of today, I have a way of picking off the numbers on an invoice! I just need to untrain the habit of putting it the right way up...
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Re: Lorem ipsum

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:14 pm

At this point I don't have anything sensible to add to the discussion in this thread (though few people would be surprised to know that I have an inexhaustible fund of things that aren't sensible). I'll just say I'm glad that my posting indirectly helped to make your life slightly easier. :-)
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Re: Lorem ipsum

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Mar 24, 2014 10:15 pm

OK -- scratch the first part of that.

What puzzles me is why your headmaster would hit you (Strike 1) as punishment for reading aloud from a book that happened to be upside-down (Strike 2). Was he just trying to stop you from becoming a smart-arse?

Because if he was, he failed abysmally.
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Re: Lorem ipsum

Post by Phil White » Mon Mar 24, 2014 10:33 pm

I have little notion of what the complex-ridden, sadistic bastards that infested the schools I attended may have thought they were trying to achieve, neither does it particularly interest me. I am grateful to one or two of them for giving me a passion for learning new things and some of the tools to do so.
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Re: Lorem ipsum

Post by Wizard of Oz » Tue Mar 25, 2014 8:16 am

.. I found the translation a … a ….. a …. oh who bloody cares it was nonsense anyway .. I found Phil's reference to ETAOIN SHRDLU much more fascinating .. just recently I have been spending time with my financial adviser given that I have now retired .. I was very taken with his ability to write upside down .. he has developed this skill so that he can sit on his side of the desk and write information down for his clients who are on the opposite side .. trés cool !! .. like Phil I have never really thought about being able to read upside down and at unusual angles, I just could .. I notice that my grandkids can do it too ..

WoZ Downunder
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Re: Lorem ipsum

Post by Bobinwales » Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:09 pm

Wizard of Oz wrote:I have never really thought about being able to read upside down and at unusual angles, I just could .. I notice that my grandkids can do it too ..
Well, what do you expect? You all live upside down don't you?

Welcome to the land of not-working-but-wonder-how-the-hell-I-managed-to-fit-in-all-the-things-i-now-do-for-free!
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Signature: All those years gone to waist!
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Re: Lorem ipsum

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:49 pm

Phil should be grateful that the teacher in question was concerned about his upside-down reading. One WoZ is ample.
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End of topic.
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