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Neurobics: Back Words

Kim, Scott Ph.D.

doi: 10.1097/01.NNN.0000370184.22547.a7
Departments: The Waiting Room
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Here's a puzzle that exercises your ear for language. We recorded the names of a dozen famous movies, played them backwards, and transcribed the resulting nonsense words. For instance, Star Wars (s-t-ah-r-oo-oh-r-z) backwards is Zuroh Oorots, and E. T. (ee-t-ee) backwards is the same.

Can you identify the backwards movie titles below? Some are recent blockbusters, while others are older classics. Hint: Listen carefully to the actual sounds in each word. Sometimes the sounds don't match the spelling. For instance, the long “i” in “lie” is really made of the two sounds “ah” followed by “ee,” so “lie” backwards is “yawl,” not “aisle.”

This puzzle was adapted from the book The Playful Brain: The Surprising Science of How Puzzles Improve Your Mind, by Richard Restak and Scott Kim, to be published this fall by Riverhead Books.

  1. ZAHJ
  2. SHAM
  3. ZROCK
  4. NARCH
  5. E-CAR
  6. JACE YAW
  7. OAK YOSS
  8. KINA TIGHT
  9. SAFE ROCKS
  10. POOH SCUD
  11. TOE BOESH
  12. CHOKE JATES
  13. TEA ALL ME ALL
  14. RAW TAVA
  15. LA HEENA
  16. ARAB BACK
  17. NO LUHMO
  18. SKIRT A METH
  19. EAR OATSY OAT
  20. O MEAN NEED KNIFE
  21. TEA ON CRAW DEATH
  22. I'M A MOM
  23. CROP KISS A ROUGE
  24. WANTS PILL A COP A
©2010 American Academy of Neurology