The word ‘shuffle’ has been around for as long as humans have been evolving.
But until now, scientists had to rely on dictionary entries, or their own memory of words that seemed to have been used by other species.
Now a team of researchers from Oxford University and the University of Oxford has published an algorithm that they claim can identify words and phrases that have been scrambled together by humans.
The researchers say the algorithm can identify many words that were never scrawled down in any language other than English, and that these words may be more widely spoken than previously thought.
It could be used by language scientists to make a more robust identification of the words that are being used in everyday life, and to identify the words with which we are familiar.
The Oxford team says the algorithm is “far more robust than previous methods” because it “can recognise words that have never been scrawled on paper, and also those that have scrawled multiple times on paper”.
“If it detects two or more words that sound similar to each other, it can tell which one is the one we are talking about,” says Daniel Denniston, a computational linguist at Oxford.
The research was published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.