Sometimes I look up a simple word that I think I misspelled and find I spelled it correctly. But when I look again at the word, it suddenly looks foreign and wrong. No matter how long or how many times I reread it my brain just doesn't accept the word.
I've asked a few people who report the same phenomenon. It seems to mainly happen to me with words that contain "e" and "i".
Does anybody know what this is called? I looked for "alien word syndrome" and "foreign word syndrome" but no dice.
Not to worry you, but your 'symptom' resembles that of OCD or such mental diseases, where you know, for example, something doesn't exist, but perceive it otherwise. And if you take no action against it, you'll lose your 'knowing and your false perception becomes the reality and you see the world differently comparing to others.
I've had that happen too. I believe the last time was with the word "said" … just didn't look right, despite what spell-check was telling me.
The phenomenon is probably a form of Jamais vu: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamais_vu
Jamais vu seems right. I've encountered it a number of times over the years with words, most memorably tree and stop, the latter several times, when encountered on those big octagonal red things. I've encountered it with people, including my wife, when extremely tired. Just a flash, mind you, but entirely weird and, fortunately, extremely rare.
So now the interesting question is: Why does this seem to happen more often with short, one-syllable words? At least in the examples provided here. Is there a psych in the audience? :)
By the way, Arkansas Traveler, what was the word that went Jamais vu for you? You describe it only as "simple."