East Asia Student

Random Stuff Related to East Asia


You can still read Chinese with the hanzi jumbled up

Jumbled up hanzi

I saw the above image and thought it was pretty cool for a number of reasons. Here’s the text in the image:


As you can see, there’s some minor re-arrangement of some of the hanzi so that they’re in the wrong order. The difference is only by one character at a time though. In any case, the text is still perfectly readable.

It immediately reminded me of this effect in English, in which the order of letters isn’t actually too important for reading, so long as the first and last letters are in the right place. The text above seems to demonstrate something similar in Chinese.

I think it might make quite an interesting test of reading fluency for non-native speakers of Chinese. If your reading isn’t very fluent and you move through the characters one by one, you’ll find the text quite difficult as the incorrect order will be unavoidable. If you’re more fluent and just move over the line taking in the characters by their general shape, though, you’ll automatically reorder the characters as you read and not have any difficulty.

It’d be quite interesting to see what effect there is if you re-arrange the radicals of characters in a text. I’d imagine it would make it much harder to read because you’d destroy the outline of the character in a lot of cases. Having said that, though, re-arranging the letters in English should presumably be similar but doesn’t seem to cause too many difficulties.

How easy was it for you to read the re-ordered Chinese text? Do you know any more cool effects like this in Chinese? Please share all in the comments!

Contact me: mhg@eastasiastudent.net