A friend of mine put together a very nifty web-app where you can paste a piece of Chinese text and use a slider to simulate reading as somebody who has a lower level of comprehension.
It only really works for people that are at an advanced level, or native speakers.
Check it out here:
Interesting concept. Now I remember what it feels like to be a beginner not knowing any characters
In the simulation, the replacement characters are completely unrelated to the replaced ones. This is a bit different from the real world, where the meanings of the unrecognized characters can often be guessed by inspecting them carefully.
In the following sentence, the replacement characters are mostly variants of the replaced ones. It’s hard and I feel baffled. But it looks more natural than the randomly generated ones.
The original sentence:
Very good point!
It’s true that in a real-world case there are times when you can interpolate the meaning of a character based on the semantic component and its context. I think creating original characters was discussed in the original blog post: http://www.sinosplice.com/life/archives/2016/10/13/simulating-80-comprehension-in-chinese. However, the author decided against it for practical reasons: it would take a lot of effort.
Also, in terms of our web-app, for the sake of functionality (pasting your own texts), we need characters that are supported by everybody’s computer. So what we see here is not perfect, but it should give a general idea