Scrambled Japanese Quiz

Do any of you remember this old paragraph that used to circulate the internet in various forms:

“Aoccdrnig to a rseearch taem at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.”

Regardless of what this non-existent study actually says, it is still fun and makes you think. I ended up showing this to a Japanese friend of mine. He had an intermediate level of English. He can hold a conversation somewhat well, and his reading comprehension is not too bad. I would put him around level 25 ~ 30.

He had no clue how to read or understand this.

So it made me think that this might be a nice way to test someone’s English, because most native speakers would be pretty quick to pick up the meaning of the above paragraph, despite it’s disorder.

Useful information if this site was English Level Up (interesting side note: I used to own this domain name and had a site on it, until I let it expire, and a Chinese company dashed in and took it over).

After a little research and extreme resulting excitement, I found that there was a Japanese version (though fairly different) of this above paragraph. So I read through it. And as expected, I was able to fully understand and read it despite the changed order of the lettering.

But my Japanese level is pretty close to native, so this didn’t really provide any deep thought provoking results for me. However, what I do want to know is what level of Japanese is required to be able to understand this jumble. At what point can your brain put it all together logically?

So I want to try a bit of an experiment and see if understanding of this above paragraph could be considered a good test of where your Japanese is at.

The Japanese isn’t that complex, but it tests five things:

1) Vocabulary
2) Grammar
3) Sentence structure
4) Overall meaning
5) Non-reliance on kanji for meaning

Steps to this experiment:

1) Try to read the below scrambled paragraph in Japanese.
2) L
eave a comment below this post and include: what level you are, what percentage of the paragraph you understood, and how long it took you to read it.
3) Leave any thoughts you have on this.

Example: Level 35, 60%, 2 minutes. Without kanji, it was confusing.

こんちには みさなん おんげき ですか? わしたは げんき です。
この ぶんょしう は いりぎす の ケブンッリジ だがいく の けゅきんう の けっか
にんんげは たごんを にしんき する ときに その さしいょ と さいご の もさじえ あいてっれば
じばんゅん は めくちちゃゃ でも ちんゃと よめる という けゅきんう に もづいとて
わざと もじの じんばゅん を いかれえて あまりす。
どでうす? ちんゃと よゃちめう でしょ?

I look forward to seeing if we can find some interesting results.

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Scrambled Japanese Quiz — 23 Comments

  1. Level: 46.5
    Percentage understood: 100%
    Length: ~30s – 60s

    Spoiler Warning:
    This was an interesting test! I did feel myself trip up on words such as ケブンッリジ and さしいょ. I believe my stumbling on the former is a result of never having seen Cambridge in Kana form, and the latter was because of the small よ. In my studies I keep sounds together, not characters :|

    Anyways, It was fun, and I think I’ll have to show this to some friends who are studying Japanese the old fashioned way and see what the result is.

    • I also slightly tripped up on the University name, and do think that’s one of the harder parts. Definitely share with your fellow Japanese learners! I want to get a wide range of levels to take this.

  2. Here’s what I struggled with:
    いりぎす, didn’t get right away, probably because it’s in hiragana rather than katakana
    にしんき, knew how to pronounce it based on how Japanese works but didn’t know what it meant until my husband told me
    あいてっれば, husband had to unscramble for me, but I understand what it means
    もづいとて, didn’t know how to unscramble and didn’t know what it meant until my husband told me

    Level 50, 98%, less than a minute. Pretty simple.

    I think it’s an interesting way to test your Japanese. If you really know the word, you’re sight reading while sub-vocalizing, rather than phonetically reading.

    • Yea I’m hoping it provides a way to test a different part of your Japanese ability.

      Did your husband also read it? Anything that got him stuck? I think the one word that even Native Japanese might be less accustomed to is Cambridge.

      • Neither the Japanese nor English version tripped him up. He’s read both in the past. But he’s very westernized and familiar with foreign terms such as Cambridge. His English I believe is level 80.

  3. It didn’t take more than a minute to read as I just zipped right through it. Plus I picked up on the pattern of disorder by the end of the みなさん which made the rest easier. It’s definitely one of those things that you sort of have to unfocus your eyes and glaze right through the words to read. There were two or three words I didn’t know and I couldn’t put together Cambridge.

    I haven’t tested my level in a while but I have read Haruki Murakami’s latest book if that’s any indication.

  4. My Japanese level is around JLPT 4 or slightly above, I think.
    I was able to understand the first two sentences easily.
    Then I struggled to read the first words of the third sentence (until だいがく), and finally could understand anything further. So I’d say my understanding of the paragraph was about 20%.

  5. I´m somewhere around lvl 70 and had to stop for a second on ケブンッリジ but other than that I read it without much problem in around 40sec understanding all of it.

  6. Level 40-ish, a minute and a half.

    I did struggle with that long word (which also Rachel pointed out – I still don’t know what it’s suppsoed to be) and Cambridge before reading だいがく which gave it away.

  7. Around level 20, 25%, 5 minutes. Interesting exercise!

    By far most of the 5 minutes was spent trying to unscramble words that it felt like I “should” know. Which didn’t really pay off, I don’t think anything became clearer after extended staring. If I had just zipped through I suspect I would have gotten the same 25% in a minute or less.

  8. Level ~40
    80%, 2min

    Though I did struggle with some bits until I actually _got_ them, I could read most of it fairly well. Somewhat surprised, since my reading spead in Japanese is pretty abysmal, relatively.

  9. Level 5, 5% (understood the first 2 words! haha) – infinite amount of time

    But then again, even in order it wouldn’t have made any sense :P (of course you shouldn’t count this in the statistics im just having a bit of fun here as someone who’s only in the kanji phase)

  10. Level 15 (according to XPNavi), 100% of first sentence, about the same time I’d take to read it normally, 10 seconds.

    I gave up on the others, since I’m not into sentence level yet, I still have to finish the Kanji (the final is fast becoming a pain in my ear, but as I have only 700 to go, I’ll do it).

  11. Level 30-something, 98%, 1 minute and 15 seconds.

    The first paragraph was a piece of cake. The second was quite confusing at first, but as soon as I understood the pattern, I went almost straight to the end, as if glazing through it. I only really stumbled with ケブンッリジ (but got it as soon as I read the following word), あいてっれば and もづいとて (know the meaning of both, just couldn’t piece them together at the time). 

    Pretty cool test!

  12. Considering the overwhelming number of 2-4 kana words in Japanese (not even mentioning particles), most Japanese words aren’t long enough to pose a significant challenge when scrambled. English on the other hand is cram packed with words that are 5+ letters. Though I have to admit the mixture of small kana (ya, yu, yo) add a unique twist.

  13. Somewhere between Level 30 and 40, 99% comprehension, less than a minute

    たごん, もさじえ, and じばんゅん tripped me up while I was reading out loud, but it wasn’t a comprehension problem. The only word I didn’t understand was もづいとて – I could unscramble and read it fine, but still didn’t know what it meant.

  14. Level 5, it took me about 30 seconds to understand the first line. After that I couldn’t understand anything.

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