"Autochthonous. A. U. T. O. C. H. ..."
June 4, 2004 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Here are the words (and the kids) that won the 2004 Scripps National Spelling Bee yesterday. I'm glad to see appear three of my favorite words, "velleity", "lagniappe" (from the Quechua!), and for the win, "autochthonous."
posted by nicwolff (46 comments total)
 
"Autochthonous" was the first word in the three or four years of watching it (it's bloody riveting) that I have ever actually used in a sentence in real life. They called up the word, and I just started screaming at the TV.

Fortunately, the kid knew it right away too. You could tell from the way he started hyperventilating.

If he had messed "autochthonous" up, I'd have had to go to South Bend and kick his ass & take his lunch money, just on principle.

He was full value for the win, especially with the crowd kind of backing the other kid, who earlier had fainted at the mic, pulled himself up, and still nailed his word.

You've got to give it up for that kind of determination.
posted by chicobangs at 11:04 AM on June 4, 2004


Spelling bees are bullshit. Scripps ought to just administer a big written spelling test where all kids have to spell the same words. That way the contest could be fair.
posted by trharlan at 11:11 AM on June 4, 2004


Harlan, player-hating on 14-year-olds is unseemly.

Fair? I think the setup is plenty fair. The words are not pre-selected for any given contestant, and besides, the contest is not just about the words themselves. It's about the ability to handle pressure with 1500 people in the room (and millions more on ESPN watching you, live) watching you wipe the poop out of your pants while you figure out if it's schwarmerei or schwermerei.

Besides, with 10 million entrants, I'd bet there's gotta be a written test at some point, even at just the individual-school level.
posted by chicobangs at 11:33 AM on June 4, 2004


Sorry, it's a PDF link - I should have said.

traharlan, there's a 25-word written spelling competition in the first round, then an element of chance in the rest of the competition, which can be ameliorated by comprehensive preparation. What's unfair about that?

chico - or svermari!
posted by nicwolff at 11:37 AM on June 4, 2004


I thought "oyez" was way too easy when I watched this yesterday, but otherwise the words were fairly difficult, though at 31, I finally understand why they ask for word origin as I came pretty close to the right answers when I knew somehting was french or latin or german based. The new time limits were tough, but I'm glad to see them there.

The highlight of course was the kid passing out, then getting right up and spelling the word correctly. That was insane. I wonder if next year everyone will get a stool to spell on though?
posted by mathowie at 11:38 AM on June 4, 2004


Lagniappe! God, I love that word...
posted by mkultra at 11:49 AM on June 4, 2004


chicobangs: re: lagniappe, "yapa" is still used in Chile (and I assume other andean nations) with the exact same meaning.
posted by signal at 11:54 AM on June 4, 2004


I think that may have been when they brought the stool out, actually. It was there at the end, which was good for the fainting kid, who wasn't even conscious at the end.

If it weren't for that stool, they'd have rolled the poor guy out of the room on a gurney.

But really. Svermari? Oh Em Effing Gee, what a 6th-grade mistake. It is to scoff. (Thanks, nic, I wasn't sure how he spelled it.) Everyone knows that svermari is Swedish Bar Food, not -- whatever Schwarmerei means (Bartleby doesn't have a listing for it).

And yeah, you hear the term "lagniappe" used all over French Canada, especially outside the cities.
posted by chicobangs at 12:00 PM on June 4, 2004


Having been in one (to the national level, even... I still have the watch to prove it), I still don't know the real purpose of the bees. Scripps Howard gets a lot of publicity, sure, but whose interest is it really, particularly with some of the kids grown and raised purely to compete in these bees?

Not that I'm bitter for not winning, of course.
posted by codger at 12:18 PM on June 4, 2004


Rebecca Sealfon is still my fave. So very excitable. So bellicose.
posted by speedo at 12:21 PM on June 4, 2004


They should make sure these kids can spell "wouldyoulikefrieswiththat".

It's good if the kids want to be there, soem like sports, some spell, more power to them.

Anyone that goes into spelling hoping to take it pro should look for all those sweet endorsements that pro spellers get on top of their 7 figure contracts.
posted by Dillenger69 at 12:22 PM on June 4, 2004


Being a former (lower-level) spelling bee kid myself, I was also glued to my seat watching this. (French was my bane, so I wouldn't have got "oyez", or most of the other championship words - but "arete" was pretty easy.)

But, "souchong" - is it really fair to use Chinese words? Because there's multiple transliterations; Google turns up hits for "souchang" as well. 'Course, he got it wrong either way.
posted by furiousthought at 12:23 PM on June 4, 2004


By sheer coincidence, I watched an interesting documentary last night called Spellbound. It's about 7 children who are regional finalists and are making the trip to the finals. I ended up wanting them all to win. The most impressive thing was the attitude of the kids that got knocked out. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys this kind of thing.
Hats off to that kid that fainted and picked himself off the floor and spelled his word. I thought that was pretty damned cool.
posted by reidfleming at 12:28 PM on June 4, 2004


furiousthought - i agree, any word that is transliterated, and "technically correct" in multiple forms, shouldn't be allowed in spelling bees.

I remember being in a spelling bee in 4th grade or so, back when I was an excellent speller. And I was given the word "Edith". A proper name.

Well, see, I have a grandmother, and her name is "Edythe".
And that's the only way I ever saw it spelled. And I spelled the name that way, and was absolutely shocked when the response to the satisfied grin on my face was .. "incorrect".

I explained that I was not, in fact, incorrect, and that names can be spelled in multiple different ways, but my teacher would have none of that. If it wasn't the same as in her book, it was incorrect.
posted by jozxyqk at 12:33 PM on June 4, 2004


Here is the discussion we had when Spellbound first came out. Some more good thoughts on the Bee.
posted by dhacker at 12:42 PM on June 4, 2004


I'm just glad to see "velleity" on MeFi. That's been a favorite word for a long time, which probably says things about me I try desperately not to think about, except in the darkest hours of the night when can't avoid it, tossing and turning...well anyway.
posted by freebird at 12:45 PM on June 4, 2004


Fans of Spellbound who've yet to see them: an update on Ashley, the girl from D.C. in this WaPo article, and Angela, the girl from texas, has started a blog.
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:50 PM on June 4, 2004


A third from me for 'velleity'! I live to use this word.
posted by of strange foe at 12:52 PM on June 4, 2004


fans of spellbound should also check out word wars, a documentary about championship-level scrabble players based on the excellent word freak by stefan fatsis. i wonder how many of these kids (if any) are or will become competitive scrabble players?
posted by jcruelty at 1:09 PM on June 4, 2004


in the Scrabble movie realm there's also Scrabylon, which was released before Word Wars, although it's shorter and perhaps not as slick as Word Wars (I haven't seen WW yet).
posted by gluechunk at 1:19 PM on June 4, 2004


From Coudal Partners today:
The Autochthonous Conspiracy. We don't often traffic in conspiracy theories around here, but considering there are upwards of 250,000 words in the English language figure the odds of this: The dictionary.com "Word of the Day" for Wednesday, June 2 (as emailed to our own Dave Reidy's inbox at 4:32 AM) was "autochthonous." Less than 36 hours later, autochthonous was also the winning word in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Did someone at the Bee leak the elite championship word list to dictionary.com? Fresh Signals calls for an immediate and thorough investigation. -06.04.kg
posted by me3dia at 1:32 PM on June 4, 2004


Finally, a word I knew for the winner. This year, I'm claiming (probably falsely) to be as smart as the smartest snot-nosed kid. Phew.

The level of pressure on those poor kids was shocking, though, especially when the runner-up fainted, then rose from the dead to deliver "hudibrastic." The level of training these kids go through nowadays reminds me of the madrasas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where young Muslim boys go to memorize the Qur'an. Kind of awful.
posted by hairyeyeball at 1:33 PM on June 4, 2004


I'm risking pedantry here, but I thought he was spelling alopecoid when he went down.

(Geezus, hairyeyeball, you cannot elude such supercilious gaucherie without some karmic amercement!)
posted by chicobangs at 1:45 PM on June 4, 2004


(What did I just say?)
posted by chicobangs at 1:46 PM on June 4, 2004


jozxyqk, I thought that was just my childhood trauma. It was the Christmas spelling list from the third grade, and the word was Rudol(f)/(ph). First spelling - my father's middle name. Second spelling - fictional flying mammal with horns. Guess which one they were looking for?
posted by jacquilynne at 1:46 PM on June 4, 2004


I'll say it till I die: Rebecca Sealfon spelled it wrong.

Note that she says "U-M" or "U-N" at the end, not "euonym." (IOW, she's certainly not repeating the word, at least not clearly.) That said, it was probably just a brain fart, or sloppy mispronunciation, as I'm sure she knew how to spell it... but plenty of contestants get eliminated due to "brain farts." The pressure up there must be crippling.

Granted, it would have been to awkward to calm her down mid-celebration and ask her to slowly repeat. I contend the judge just let her have it.

The media focused on her exuberance, I'm surprised no one else noticed... the 2nd place winner got robbed of a fair shake.
posted by Fofer at 2:05 PM on June 4, 2004


Wow, Fofer. I agree completely.
posted by trharlan at 2:15 PM on June 4, 2004


"I am glad to see appear"

I am not glad to see appear this strange syntax.
posted by agregoli at 2:26 PM on June 4, 2004


BTW, the Washington Post just ran an interesting follow-up on the 1999 D.C. Spelling Bee champ Ashley White. [registration required]

Across the Anacostia River, in her sparsely furnished apartment, a contestant from a previous Scripps National Spelling Bee -- 18-year-old Ashley White -- arrived home from her job as a salesclerk, having just picked up her 10-month-old daughter from day care. White was tired, the baby fussy. Out their window, buses growled by on Minnesota Avenue SE.

Five years after winning the D.C. bee and surviving several rounds of the national finals, White was warming pureed peas and remembering the achievement that won her a featured spot in the Oscar-nominated documentary "Spellbound."

"I would not have imagined that my life would be like this," she said softly.

posted by Fofer at 2:49 PM on June 4, 2004


Getting spastic, I am hudibrastic:
Almost never ever am pedantic.
posted by freebird at 3:24 PM on June 4, 2004


Here is the discussion we had when Spellbound first came out. Some more good thoughts on the Bee.

I wanted to draw attention again to my old post from the discussion generated by the movied Spellbound. Unfortunately, I posted two days after the thread started so I don't know if many people saw it.

I have two connections to the National Spelling Bee. I am both the 1986 National Spelling Bee champion and I worked as a staffer at the national bee in 1991. I won't reiterate my entire post, but you may want to read why "phacometer" cannot be used in the National Spelling Bee.
posted by jonp72 at 4:11 PM on June 4, 2004


Speaking of the movie Spellbound, here's an update on Ted, the kid from Missouri with the family who raised the peacocks. Here's a picture featuring the women of Spellbound all grown up. Here's the web site Angela Arenivar started before she founded the blog. There's also an IMDB post from somebody who was Harry Altman's camp counselor.
posted by jonp72 at 4:32 PM on June 4, 2004


Three in the afternoon, and the auditorium was nearly full. The air conditioner was mistakenly set to Smithsonian. It was cold.

So very cold.

"Well, since we're still waiting on a couple of our judges," started the nameless man in a grey tweed jacket, holding a fresh copy of the 1993 Paideia in his wrinkled, vein-ridden hands. "Why don't we have a little fun to keep ourselves occupied?"

He opened the dreadful book in front of the thirty-five children seated before him. Dressed in whites, blacks, greys, and a single instance of turquoise, the wide-eyed and nervous children all began to twiddle their fingers nervously.

He had a Paideia in his hand. A Competitive Speller's Bible. A fresh copy, with none of the creases, bloodstains or missing pages that came as a result of doubling for an elementary school billy club.

The students felt naked without their copies in hand.

The man in tweed flipped to the last page. "Here we are."

The students murmured anxiously. They didn't need their copy of the 1993 Paideia to know the content being referenced by the man. It was the page that all the students knew the best.

"Disqualifying Words from the 1992 Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee".

He was doing the unthinkable; testing Bakersfield City spellers on words that had managed to slay the stoic, National-level, pre-adolescent paragons of alphabetical genius. The children began to grow nervous. Rivulets of sweat, Aqua Net and Groom-and-Clean began to drip from their little heads of oversaturated hair. Those who had a nail-biting habit began to bite their nails; those who twiddled their fingers began to twiddle their fingers. The kid in Turquoise began to click out the drum solo to Wipe Out against his retainer.

The man in tweed glared down at the children with piercing eyes. "Who gets to go first?"

Silence was expected. The 5th grader with a shaggy surf cut was not. He stood tall from his auditorium seat, cracking his knuckles with pride as he met the man's gaze.

"I will."

All eyes were now on the defiant child with the messy hair. The man in tweed cleared his throat.

"All right, son. What's your name?"

"Potloaf."

"Okay, Potloaf. Spell 'Lyceum'."

The child didn't so much as flinch. "L-Y-C-E-U-M. Lyceum."

"Spell 'Amoeba'."

"A-M-O-E-B-A. Amoeba."

The children gasped. The child smiled. The man stared for a spread of seconds. Finally, a grin broke out across his weathered face.

"Oooooh, looks like we've got a little -competition- for you guys!"

* * * 20 Minutes Later: First Round of Competition * * *

"Potloaf, spell 'Waitress'."

"... Could you pronounce that, please?"

"Wai... Tress."

"... How many syllables, please?"

"Two."

"... Can you use it in a sentence?"

"The waitress delivered enchiladas to the couple in the third booth."

A solid 60 seconds passed. Finally, the prodigy spoke.

"W-A-I-T-T-R-E-S-S. Waitress."

"That is incorrect."

* * *

Three guesses on how much of my life after that day has been spent trying to live that down. ;)
posted by Potloaf at 4:38 PM on June 4, 2004


agregoli: I am glad to see those words appear; I applied a little harmless anastrophe to let the verb phrase stand undivided and the list of words end the sentence emphatically. That's how we do it down on the farm.

Fofer: WTF! She should totally have lost! (That time the anastrophe divides the verb phrase for colloquial effect.) She spelled E! U! O! N! Y! NUM! I think the judges were just scared.
posted by nicwolff at 4:50 PM on June 4, 2004


Thanks for the validation guys. I've been hollering this for seven years now*; everyone thinks I'm just nuts.

"But cute little Rebecca Sealfon... she was just soooo excited when she won the '97 Bee! How exhilirating for all of us!"

Yeah, meanwhile, she spelled it wrong.

I'm not saying she doesn't deserve accolades for getting that far, but in a competition as fierce and precise as The Bee, I can't get over the fact that this just slipped by... and no one else noticed, or said anything. Not even a request for a calm respelling?

jonp72, curious to know your take on it...

People (and South Park) got a kick of her unmistakable glee, meanwhile the only think unmistakable to me is the fact that she spelled the damn word wrong. I have been called anti-American for my view. I recently asked the
question in the TiVo Community forum, sorta in jest, but also sorta curious, and others posited that she is indeed spelling it correctly, and repeating the complete word "euonym" at the end. Try as I might (and I've tried many times) I just don't hear it. Someone even suggested I had a chip on my shoulder about it... that my ears and brain were just refusing to comply with reality?

*Okay, maybe not seven years, maybe 2 or 3, ever since I first saw the video.
posted by Fofer at 5:30 PM on June 4, 2004


2nd place, 5th grade spelling bee, P.S.8, 1975

What makes spelling bees impossible is that pronunciation rarely matches the spelling of a word, especially vowels next to each other, and the eu-u thing.
posted by amberglow at 5:49 PM on June 4, 2004


Yeah, meanwhile, she spelled it wrong.

I'm not saying she doesn't deserve accolades for getting that far, but in a competition as fierce and precise as The Bee, I can't get over the fact that this just slipped by... and no one else noticed, or said anything. Not even a request for a calm respelling?

jonp72, curious to know your take on it...


My take is probably a little more nuanced than most. The accusation is that Rebecca Sealfon won, even though she spelled the word "euonym" E-U-O-N-Y-M-U-M. Once they hear a word from the pronouncer, most spellers who are good enough to reach the National Spelling Bee respond in the following manner:

1. Repeat the word.
2. Pause
3. Spell letter-by-letter with a pause after each letter. Experienced spellers typically do this, even if they're 100% sure, because it minimizes the chance you will trip over your own tongue.
4. Repeat the word a second time.

My instinct is that Rebecca Sealfon was simply repeating the word "euonym" a second time. The problem is that "euonym" is a homonym of the letter sequence "U-N-M," which would automatically confuse things even if this had occurred at a local bee, not just the National Spelling Bee.

At the National Spelling Bee, the potential for pandemonium at the end of the bee increases exponentially. When I won the National Spelling Bee, I was a 14-year-old 8th-grader. If you are one of the last two spellers, you're probably 14 or less; you're under hot lights; there are reporters from all over the United States and the rest of the world ready to rush the stage as soon as the last word is finished; and you're probably hungry as hell, because the bee can last until 4 or 5 in the afternoon and you haven't eaten since 11 or 12. Given the amount of physical stamina that a 14-year-old has to muster just to sit still under hot lights without the opportunity to go the bathroom or get a snack (because that might allow cheating to occur), I can certainly see why Rebecca Sealfon might have been out-of-breath or slurred her words enough so that "euonym" sounded like U-M.

What is the ideal thing to do, when there's controversy over whether a word has been spelled correctly? Even in my local bee in Harrisburg, PA almost 20 years ago, they had a reel-to-reel tape-recorder, so they could deal with situations where there was some doubt over whether a word was spelled correctly. The National Spelling Bee also has a similar set-up, which would have recorded directly from the mike on stage, not merely from ESPN or other news cameras. So unless the movie of Sealfon has audio directly from the stage mike, I'll reserve judgment. In fact, I remember some kid in 1986 tried to trick the judges when he was given the word dolabrate by slurring his vowels and walking off the stage, before they could ring the bell indicating whether he was incorrect or not. They simply re-ran the audiotape and found that he misspelled the word and he was accordingly eliminated from the bee.

Now is it possible that in the confusion of ending the bee that Sealfon was prematurely judged the winner? It's definitely possible. According to this story , there are previous cases where the judges might have missed a misspelling, although I think the probability is highly unlikely now due to better audio equipment and the presence of ESPN cameras. But the possibility is still there nonetheless. Like I said, the Spelling Bee is crawling with reporters. Part of the reason is that the contestants are sponsored by newspapers. Often you have a staffer from the hometown paper who simultaneously chaperons the contestant, while writing a story about the bee with a local angle. International reporters are also increasingly common, because spelling bees are not conducted in any other country of the world to my knowledge. Reporters basically sit for hours in anticipation of the final word for the bee. As soon as the bee is over, hundreds of flashbulbs start popping and reporters start rushing the stage to bombard the new champion with questions. (In my case, I was asked how I felt after winning the bee. I responded "T-I-R-E-D." The quote ended up in Newsweek!) It is possible that something similar might (and I say might) have happened in the case of Rebecca Sealfon, which would have made it impossible for the judges to exercise due diligence in determining whether Rebecca Sealfon actually spelled the word correctly.

However, even if Rebecca Sealfon did botch the spelling of euonym, that still would not have eliminated her from the bee. The rules of the National Spelling Bee change when the contestants have been reduced to two. The rules were modified in 1991, so the rules in operation when Rebecca Sealfon was a contestant in 1997 are as follows:

# The champion is not the champion until he or she has spelled correctly two more words than the speller or spellers placing second have spelled. These two words will be spelled consecutively only if the champion is the last speller in a round.
# Under no circumstance is any speller asked to correct the misspelling of another speller.
# It is possible in two instances to have a round in which only one word is spelled. The first instance of a one-word round is the correct spelling of the final championship word. The second instance of a one-word round is the misspelling of what could have been the final championship word.

When the contestants are reduced to two, a misspelling does not immediately eliminate you from the bee, because the remaining speller has to spell additional words in order to win. (Prior to 1991, a champion had to correct the previous contestant's misspelling and then spell the next word on the word list.) At the time Rebecca Sealfon was given euonym, her opponent Prem Trivedi had already misspelled "cortile." If the judges had rule Rebecca incorrect, then the bee wouldn't have been over at all. Prem would have been called to the mike and then he would have had to spell two new words correctly in order to win, which is a lot easier said than done.
posted by jonp72 at 7:05 PM on June 4, 2004


i've been in the usa two days, with cable tv in the hotel room.

metafilter makes much more sense now (and i can't wait to get back home).
posted by andrew cooke at 7:32 PM on June 4, 2004


The rules were modified in 1991

Ah, that's why I was so confused when watching Spellbound yesterday why the final two wasn't asked to respell the word that the other finalist had missed, like in my grade school competition days. I still can't believe how engaging a documentary about spelling can be.
posted by gyc at 7:42 PM on June 4, 2004


Prem would have been called to the mike and then he would have had to spell two new words correctly in order to win

Well, then he should have had the opportunity. I accept completely your explanation that she is finishing and re├źnunciating the word rather than adding extra letters - but the video makes it clear that she does not seal her lips to enunciate an "M" sound at either the beginning or the end of her slurred "N! EUONYN!"

And we know that's not a speech defect, because she repeatedly seals her lips for "M" sounds while asking questions before spelling the word -- except in one place she should: while saying "anym" in the question "root is anym meaning name?" It seems to me that she mis-remembered the root as "anyn" and spelled the word that way, but because she has a bit of a peculiar accent the judges didn't catch it.

(I had an "I'd hit it" joke here, but 21 < 38 / 2 + 7, and that rule applies even to overenthusiastic home-schooled girls from Brooklyn.)
posted by nicwolff at 8:12 PM on June 4, 2004


And we know that's not a speech defect, because she repeatedly seals her lips for "M" sounds while asking questions before spelling the word -- except in one place she should: while saying "anym" in the question "root is anym meaning name?" It seems to me that she mis-remembered the root as "anyn" and spelled the word that way, but because she has a bit of a peculiar accent the judges didn't catch it.

I hadn't heard the accusation that Sealfon ended the word with a N instead of an M, but I highly doubt that she just forgot that the suffix -nym ends with the letter M. I say this, because I'm an ex-spelling bee champ and knowing -nym = "name" is practically Spelling Bee 101 for an experienced spelling bee contestant. Sealfon wouldn't been one of the last two contestants, if she hadn't known that. Contestants ask for root words, not always because they haven't figured out how to spell the word, but also to buy time and to give themselves a chance to catch their breath before they begin spelling. I'm 100% sure Sealfon knew how to spell the word and I would also wager she knew the suffix by heart. The only controversy is whether she engaged in a slip of the tongue that wasn't caught by the judges.

By the way, it might be worthwhile to have somebody who actually knows how to read lips, rather than newbies like me and nicwolff, to look at the Sealfon video. I'm not sure if National Spelling Bee would have had lip-readers on staff, but it's quite possible they did. In 1986, a deaf girl named Monica Van Doren qualified to compete in the national bee by winning a local competition by reading lips.

That being said, you do have a point that, if Rebecca screwed up, the other kid should have been given a chance. I just find it hard to believe that Rebecca Sealfon screwed up, when less-than-clear audio could have easily led to confusion.
posted by jonp72 at 8:31 PM on June 4, 2004


Well, you're obviously the expert, and I'm very much not, and I'm sure you're right that she knew going in how to spell the word. But as chico said above, the point of the bee is how well you handle the pressure; can we agree (for Fofer's sake!) that 1. if she made a cognitive error under pressure, rather than a single slip in her enunciation, then she should not have won (yet!), and 2. that to our untrained eyes, she clearly wasn't closing her mouth to make "M"s at not one but three crucial moments? And modus ponens, there we are: she's evil and must die. Uh, I mean, she's perfectly nice and probably would have won anyway moments later.
posted by nicwolff at 8:54 PM on June 4, 2004


jonp72, thanks for taking the time. Your comments (coming from a previous winner!) are most enlightening, and are appreciated.

I get that Rebecca's mispronunciation wouldn't have deemed Prem the immediate winner. At the very least, what I expect from the judges is that Rebecca be asked to repeat herself calmly. Chances are she would have done it -- slowly this time -- and still won. And if not, subsequent rounds may have still resulted in her being the winner. But at the very least, Prem deserved more than what he got.

Perhaps I was just struck by the awkwardness of her exuberance, and how it might have played out if a judge had the balls to interrupt her mid-"moment." Nah, that would have made for great TV. Record-setting ratings in 1998!

That said, your essay has given me some peace and I feel I can now move on mentally. On to a new cause... Kobayashi's "Solomon method?

(BTW, congrats on the 1986 win. That's quite an accomplishment and must have been very exciting for you. I also grinned at your Newsweek soundbite. Kudos!)
posted by Fofer at 9:02 PM on June 4, 2004


Meanwhile, another scandal!
posted by Fofer at 11:47 PM on June 4, 2004


from your link--Why is it called a Spelling Bee?

yeah..how come?
posted by amberglow at 8:53 AM on June 5, 2004


I was actually at the Bee for the first time this year and I can vouch for this caustic take on the proceedings.

You really had to feel bad for the kids, under so much pressure. Plus the damn judge mispronounced a bunch of words in my opinion, leading the kids to flame out.

The absolute best part was the loony cadre of anti-spellers outside, who were marching around in a cloud of cicadas with picket signs complaining that english is too hard to spell.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:35 AM on June 5, 2004


« Older That other documentary   |   Searching for the Great Brain Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments