Bee '14
May 26, 2014 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Tomorrow morning 281spellers will begin to compete for the title of 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion, and starting Wednesday, you can play along.

Two of this year's spellers, Vanya Shivashankar and Ashwin Veeramani are siblings of former Bee winners. This year's youngest speller, Hussain A. Godhrawala, is eight.

Scripps National Spelling Bee starts Tuesday; Some spellers do more than just spell

National Spelling Bee by the Numbers: Have More Boys or Girls Won?

Local stories on some of this year's spellers:

Thirteen year-old Sean Hickey, in a record 32 final rounds, out spelled his opponent to win the Citizen Patriot Spelling Bee in March and earn his trip to the national competition.

Seventh grader Gavin Buehler won his local bee after 48 rounds, more than twice the previous record.

Fifth grader Neha Konakalla, who spends 30-40 hours a week studying for the bee, says her favorite word is humuhumunukunukuapuaa, a Hawaiian fish.

Eighth grader Hayat Alkadir's sister Nejat, was a previous Scripps speller, and Hayat herself bested her own brother to get to Washington, D.C. this year.

Eighth grader Lokesh Nagineni is going to Scripps for the first time this year after being the first runner up at his regional bee in 2013, 2012 and 2011.

Last year's third place winner, Sriram J. Hathwar, who grew up speaking the Kannada dialect, will be back and looking for a win after being eliminated last year on the word "ptyalagogue."
posted by roomthreeseventeen (29 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
In fifth grade, I was the runner-up in my regional bee. I misheard the word and spelled "oscillate" when the word was actually "ocelot". 40+ years later, it still stings a little - especially when I spelled the wrong word correctly. It's always fun to see how good the finalists are every year, though.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:49 AM on May 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

I was in the NSB when I was 12 or 13 and had a great time. It's an unbelievable amount of preparation and hard work especially at such a young age— some of my fondest memories of my late grandmother are of us spending long hours studying using worksheets she'd made with her beautiful schoolteacher's penmanship.

I definitely know how to spell "irrefragable" now.
posted by a halcyon day at 11:52 AM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

My stutter got me eliminated in the school-wide finals the one year I did well :/
posted by avocet at 12:07 PM on May 26, 2014

Dis is kool. Im eggsited.
posted by jonmc at 12:15 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by lazaruslong at 12:28 PM on May 26, 2014

You never forget it, do you? (Terrarium.)
posted by themanwho at 2:02 PM on May 26, 2014

Oh, mine is burnisher.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:36 PM on May 26, 2014

Hemorrhage...arrrgh. Though I do have fond memories of moiety.
posted by sapere aude at 2:39 PM on May 26, 2014

I have a glorious memory of Spelling Bee 2004, which I watched with a gaggle of friends at a casino bar in Las Vegas, very drunk, at about midnight, with much shouting and cheering and delight. I'm afraid the bee is never quite as much fun to watch when it's just me on my couch. But I'm excited nonetheless.
posted by Stacey at 3:05 PM on May 26, 2014

Are there spelling bees for grownups? I was a stellar speller in school but spelling bees weren't a thing in Malaysia.
posted by divabat at 3:09 PM on May 26, 2014

Yup, some places have them. Pittsburgh has a couple that I think use the standard word lists, and a friend of mine who lives elsewhere was studying recently for a sci-fi-themed spelling bee. I seem to recall a concerted effort to memorize the Doctor Who planet name "Raxacoricofallapatorius", but I forgot to ask whether she actually was asked that one.
posted by Stacey at 3:37 PM on May 26, 2014

In 6th grade, I won the district spelling bee. In recognition, they presented me with a certificate praising my prowess in the "Spellling Bee."

I made it fairly far at State, only to be vanquished by "periphery" (I thought it had more As)—I think everyone who didn't win probably has their own "enemy word".
posted by Maecenas at 4:30 PM on May 26, 2014

Won my elementary school with "linguistically", lost the district with "obedience". Sigh.
posted by unknowncommand at 4:52 PM on May 26, 2014

Competed in the national bee in 1996. Knocked out by "theodolite" in the first round, could have sworn I heard the pronouncer read a word that started with "f" but mucked up the rest of it anyway. Still an awesome experience!
posted by miratime at 5:28 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

....spelled "oscillate" when the word was actually "ocelot".....

How do you titilate an ocelot?

Oscillate its tit a lot!
posted by lalochezia at 7:04 PM on May 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

I competed in the national bee way back in 1993, the first person from my hometown to make it. I bombed out in the first round on "hauberk," having misunderstood which lists of words to study for which rounds.

Luckily, my hometown paper, having never sent anyone to the bee, had book the hotel for all three days of the competition in advance, so my mother and I spent the remaining two days sightseeing in D.C.
posted by kewb at 7:18 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:56 PM on May 26, 2014

Benny Andajetz: It was "ocelot" that lost me our district spelling bee in sixth grade! I went with the lesser-known variant "ocelet" and I still get mad sometimes when I hear that word. It doesn't even remotely sound like it should be an "e" WHY WOULD I HAVE EVEN THOUGHT THAT!?!

Also, for anyone who's somehow following this thread, but hasn't seen Spellbound - it's really, really good. Doesn't look like it's currently on Netflix or Prime, but local libraries and such might have it. It follows a group of kids who end up as finalists in the 1999 National Spelling Bee.
posted by augustimagination at 10:02 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

From the hilarious Aziz Ansari: "I hope the other ethnicities out there are ready to lose to an Indian person in the Spelling Bee today. #IndianPeople #WeOwnSpelling"

I'm betting on all the South Asian kids.

Also, did anyone see the profile of the cutie pie littlest speller? He's only 8. ADORABLE!
posted by discopolo at 12:01 AM on May 27, 2014

Rhinoceros! I put a "u" before the "s" and once I realized I said it I couldn't take it back. Decades later, I still feel awful for being knocked out on THAT word when I studied and mastered the hard ones on the list.

However, my friend won district and went to state and had a panic attack, so at least I dodged that bullet.
posted by kimberussell at 3:36 AM on May 27, 2014

"Superjacent" knocked me out at the state level. But this was back in the dark ages, when one could advance surprisingly far without studying at all, just by reading a lot and having a large vocabulary. The Spelling Bee is a whole different game now. I wouldn't have lasted a minute.
posted by Daily Alice at 5:07 AM on May 27, 2014

posted by ella_minnow at 6:37 AM on May 27, 2014

Larks are my albatross. 1994, Dutch national, 38th place: "leeuwerik" doesn't get its final consonant doubled up in the plural under the "because Reasons, mumble-mumble" rule. Guess I drew a blank on that from the thrill of seeing Ivo Niehe up close. Final 25 got a dictionary; I got a balloon.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:43 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

You never forget it, do you?

I don't know what you're talking about.

physique physique physique physique physique physique physique
posted by psoas at 11:33 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sugar in kindergarten. I knew it didn't have an "h" as soon as I said it, but Mrs. Wiltmer buzzed me out anyway. I cried and then my mom took me out for Dairy Queen so it all turned out okay. I guess.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:13 PM on May 27, 2014

Test yourself.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:48 AM on May 30, 2014

I made it to fourth in a school bee and flopped on (ack) "amenable". The next year I couldn't even make the competition cut, flubbing "necessary" on the eliminator quiz.

you never forget them!
posted by chavenet at 3:16 PM on May 30, 2014

cjorgensen: "Test yourself."

I like how they laugh when you get it wrong, (I can't even understand what the man is saying, making it hard to spell them words.)
posted by chavenet at 3:20 PM on May 30, 2014

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