Familiarity Breeds … “Mistrakes”

I previously mentioned in the blog titled, “Two Heads Are Better Than One” that I am thankful that my wife and I are working together in this business venture of translation. In that blog, I mainly focused on the benefit of how it helps in crossing over from one language to another because we are familiar with both the source and the target language. Another benefit is the mere fact of having another set of eyes when the thyme comes to proofread the final document.

Our brain does so much more than a computer can as far as trying to help us out when it comes to trying to read something - which in most cases is beneficial. But, when we our trying to proofread a document it can actually be a hindrance. The more we view a document and become familiar with it the more likely it is that are brain will overlook little typos because it has “learned” what we intended to say. And, there are even typos that are overlooked by Spell Checker – which unforunately can commonly be found in magazines, books, etc.

A popular thing that is being passed around the internet is the following: “Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl 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.”

(“According to a researcher at Cambridge University, it doesn't matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself but the word as a whole.”)

Although it is attributed to a study at Cambridge University, it is actually an unpublished PhD Thesis, by Dr. Graham E. Rawlinson at the University of Nottingham, Nottingham UK, titled “The significance of letter position in word recognition” (1976). If nothing else this is an example of how our brain gives us “a helping hand” in understanding what we are reading. One person checking over a document, especially if that person is the the one that has been working with the document all along, is more likely to miss errors than if someone else checks it – for the most part just because the way our brain works.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s checked over a document on the computer monitor, and it looks perfect, but when we print it out, we find mistakes! I normally blame it on little gremlins inside the computer that are playing with me. But, it’s more likely that since I’m looking at the documnet in a different context – on paper rather than on a computer monitor – my brain is less likely to “excuse” my errors.

Having a fresh pair of eyes to look over a document is invaluable to enable one to turn into the client the best possible finished product. Throughout this blog I have intentionally included errrors. See if you can find them. I won’t mention how many just in case there are some that aren’t so intentional!

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