Postponements Galore

Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, whether it is literal or figurative, you’ve probably heard of this little virus called Covid-19. It’s caused probably the most cancellations around the US and the world. For everyone out there, stay safe and wash your hands!

For spelling, this means a lot. Around the country, spelling bee- from regionals to counties- have been overwhelmingly postponed. A lot of these dates have moved to Early March or Late April (I’ll try to get a comprehensive list but you all should hopefully know by now)

It is slightly worrying for the 2020 Spelling Bee season but I think that there is a decent chance that Scripps will be postponed (hello, at the very minimum 200+ people in a room for a round? I don’t think so). Hopefully that will lead to a postponement and not a cancellation but as many other comparable competitions including but not limited to Geo Bee, Science Olympiad and much more have chosen to do.

It definitely doesn’t feel nice to not be able to show off all the hard work we’ve put in throughout the year but it is important to remember that everyone’s health does come first.

The update on the Scripps official page for Covid-19 is a little outdated as gatherings over 10 are now not recommended. I will be keeping an eye on the situation.

Updates (As of March 16th) : The Bee and The E.W. Scripps Company are closely monitoring the recommendations of local, state and federal agencies regarding COVID-19. While many final local spelling bees have already been completed, those still outstanding will most likely be postponed based on current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding cancellation of events of 50 or more people over the next eight weeks. We are in the process of determining what impact these latest guidelines will have on the national finals scheduled for May. 

Weather

There’s all sorts of weather on this planet. From torrential downpours to winds that dance across desert sand etching designs unaltered by humans. From light drizzly rain droplets delicately descending from the heavens to waves that wash over everything in their path, we’ve come up with just as many words to describe all of these.

Storms

Blowdown– a storm that quite literally blows over trees and cars
Brickfielder– This word is chiefly used in Australia as it a dust storm that originates from the brick fields near Sydney
Elephanta– Interestingly this is an East Indian storm that occurs near a monsoon. It is related to elephants but through the fact that the elephant is the symbol of the Hindu 13th lunar month which is the prime time for such storms to occur.
Haboob– Arabic for a violent wind
Kona– Hawaiian word for a storm of southerly winds and heavy rains
Tufan– this is related to typhoon and is a violent storm that occurs in India
Williwaw– a sudden violent gust of cold land air



Root Words from Round 5 of the Scripps National Spelling Bee Morning Finals

hendiadys – hen/dia/dys (two)
pyrheliometer – pyr/helio/meter
ornithicnite -ornith/icnite
lychnoscope – lychno/scope
cheiloplasty – cheilo/plasty
tessellar -tessell/ar
amphisbaena – amphis/baena
parergal – parerg/al
chorea – chor/ea
periphyton – peri/phyt/on
propositus – pro/posit/us
imbrex – im/brex
aichmophobia – aichmo/phobia
flocculus – floccul/us (Akeelah and the Bee throwback)
bombycine – bombyc/ine
oxyrhynch – oxy/rhynch
cyclazocine – cycla/zocine
opisthograph – opistho/graph
erythematous -ery/thema/tous
pteronarcid – ptero/narc/id
exuviae – ex/uviae
terebinthinate – terebinth/in/ate
diaeresis – dia/eresis
neossoptile – ne/osso/ptile

Root Words Galore in the Morning Finals- Round 4 Edition

compurgator – com/purgat/or
anastylosis – ana/styl/osis
fissiped – fissi/ped
rhynchophorous – rhyncho/phor/ous
nosology – nos/ology
myelopoiesis – myelo/poiesis
tachyglossid – tachy/gloss/id
epicedium – epi/ced/ium
gliocyte – glio/cyte
basileus – basi/leus (think basilisk)
morigeration – moriger/ation
rescissory – re/sciss/ory
ergodic – erg/odic
tetranychid – tetr/anych (weird form of onych)/id
ornis – orni
unguis -ungui
cyclamen – cycl/amen
emblema – emblem/a
planirostral – plani/rostr/al
gnotobiotic – gnoto/bio/tic
doraphobia – dora/phobia
frontogenesis -front/o/genesis
ichthyophagi – ichthyo/phagi
propylon – pro/pylon
nuchal – nuch/al
postil – post/il
caducous – caduc/ous
pelargic – pelarg/ic
atrament – atra/ment
eloge – e/loge (logos)
ptarmic -ptarm/ic
castaneous – castan/eous
empyreumatic – em/pyreuma/tic
cerium – cer(es)/ium
praseodymium – praseo/dym/ium
butyraldehyde – butyr/aldehyde
pilosebaceous – pilo/seb/aceous
vibratiuncle – vibrati/uncle

2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee- Preliminaries to Morning Finals

Just this afternoon, a record was set for the second highest preliminary test score required to pass on to the second stage of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Spellers had to score at least 24 on the written test and spell all of their onstage words correctly during Rounds 2 and 3 correctly. The only time that the score was higher was back in 2013. With a larger group of spellers, it’s almost expected that the score should rise for qualifying into the morning finals. The finalists toed the line with exactly 50 spellers qualifying. If one more speller had gotten a score of 30, the qualifying score would have bumped up to 31.

However, this score is a reflection of the trend towards the usage of more and more online study tools which allow spellers to grow in skill and knowledge almost exponentially. The process of preparing of spelling bees has become more streamlined and in a sense more accessible hence the overall increase in scores. I think that this year is just the beginning of a new trend if Scripps doesn’t increase the difficulty of their tests.

This just seems to show how important it is to have a strong vocabulary in preparation for nationals, which I believe is a pretty good thing. After all, words are important because of their definitions first and foremost. Vocab likely was the primary determinant for the spellers that qualified for the semifinals.

The batch of finalists is quite stacked this year with many returners from last year and many up and coming spellers. The morning finals tomorrow may have some difficulty whittling down the spellers to 12 and may end up taking more than that to night finals once again. Either way, tomorrow certainly is going to be quite the interesting bee to watch.

2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee- Preliminary Written Round

So, quick breakdown of the format is 12 Offlist spelling questions, then 12 vocabulary questions followed by two more vocabulary questions.

Spelling

  1. Grok (Literary term from Stranger in a Strange Land)
  2. Dissilient (Latin!)
  3. Sciapodous (Greek! Scia= Shadow + Pod= foot. I believe in one of the Chronicles of Narnia books there was a bunch of dwarve-like beings that had the one foot and used it as an umbrella/shade)
  4. Rucervine (Latin again? Rusa + Cervus= Rucervus (deer))
  5. Epollicate (Another Latin! E= without + Pollex= thumb)
  6. Indiscerptible (Latin once more In= not+ discerpere= tear apart)
  7. Sobornost (Russian)
  8. Passim (Latin, seriously?
  9. Avoirdupois (French- Avoir du Pois it’s pretty standard)
  10. Zuppa Inglese (Italian yum!)
  11. Diel (Latin- It’s the last finally. Di/a= day)
  12. Ljubljana (Of course they needed one Geo word from Yugoslavia)
Summary: 6 Latin Words, 1 Greek, 1 French, 1 Italian, 1 Literary, 1 Russian, 1 Geographical
There were a lot more Latin words than I thought there would be and a lot less Greek works than I expected. This list was 75% Romance Language words!!
VOCAB
  1. Flak- criticism (slang!)
  2. Restive- fidgety (This was a trick question!)
  3. Exculpatory- vindicate (ex= remove, culp= blame)
  4. Raise Cain- to cause a commotion (Scripps even tweeted about this! Biblical references/slang)
  5. Ailurophile- lover of cats, has a bunch of kittens (ailuro= cats, phile= love)
  6. Megillah- long involved story (Some Biblical references just like 4/slang)
  7. Pyrosis- heartburn (pyr= fire, osis= condtion)
  8. Haymaker- punch (this is a bit slangy)
  9. Cyclopean- massive, huge (Greek myths!)
  10. Tritaph- tomb with 3 chambers (Tri= three+ taph= tomb, think epitaph)
  11. Manque- unsuccessful, frustrated (manquer= to lack)
  12. Dianoia- opiniona (dia= through, noia (noos)- to think/mind)
Summary: 2 Latin, 5 Greek, 1 French, 3 Slang,  1 Yiddish/Hebrew
The amount of Greek in this round made up for the others. And also, are we seeing a trend towards the inclusion of more slang/literary terms?
EXTRA VOCAB
  1. Verso- left handed side (Latin, page being turned)
  1. Dromomania- wandering (Greek, dromo= run, wander, mania= obsession with)

 

The preliminary test was a bit on the easier side this year so I’m predicting a cutoff around 26-28 overall.

 

 

Spelling Withdrawals Pt.4 – A Month Later

A Month Later:

It was really late in the night and I was staring a bit blearily at the computer. I wasn’t sure what had given me the idea to start a blog about spelling but here I was, staring at a skeleton of a website, toggling around with colors, fonts, themes, layouts, everything. I was tossing ideas around my head debating what exactly I would be writing about.

How should I start, should I be writing about roots, languages, I mean there’s so much stuff. It then it struck me, the one question and its many variations that so many people had asked me throughout my years as a speller.

“So, why do you do spelling. It’s just a bunch of words that you’re probably never even going to use. I mean there’s autocorrect if you don’t know how to spell a word.”

Well, first of all, I’m definitely a foodie, and knowing those words has kept me from stumbling over names of some of my favorite dishes. Roots, words, language patterns all help me when I’m Also, autocorrect is so buggy most of the time and just because it’s there does not mean you have to use it. I mean, if you’ve learned how to bike, you don’t keep the training wheels on just because they exist.

“What’s the secret to memorizing all of those words? Do you just look at them over and over until you know them by heart? That’s so boring.”

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I definitely did not memorize that many words. Of course, there are the really weird ones that nobody really gets and that you absolutely have to know. The only other things I’ve ever memorized were language patterns and roots, which were total lifesavers.

Words have always been quite enchanting. They’re completely made up but once they’ve entered a language they take on a life of their own, becoming completely new entities that take on any purpose people want them to. English as a language has become particularly adept at utilizing and incorporating ideas from other languages while at least attempting to preserve its original sounds.

Spelling Withdrawals Pt.3- Coming to terms

Day 3 After the Bee:

I am curled up in a ball, clutching on to the 3rd Unabridged Dictionary like a lifeline as I surrounded by a cumulative circle of spelling paraphernalia ranging from water bottles to Snoopy to my beloved Banagrams. No, not really, but mentally I may as well be. I call myself a retired speller, slightly jokingly, slightly with a twinge of sadness. I’ve joined the ranks of whom I thought of as “really old people” as a 4th grader starting spelling. I can feel my spelling hairs graying and my bee’s knee’s creaking with each step. But in all seriousness, I’ve started to come to terms with the idea that I was done with spelling. But I’m not completed detached yet. I’ve found some things that start to occupy my time, like that neverending pile of summer homework.

I turn on my computer, my hands smoothly going straight to open Merriam Webster out of force of habit. The simple action requires no thought, it has become an automatic motion as soon as I power on a device. The mere act of closing the window feels like a light sting, reminding me that I don’t need the CD-ROM to be permanently open anymore. (Also totally false. I am guilty of still using it if I want to define a word)

But despite all of this effervescing nostalgia that’s annoyingly ever-present, I am starting to get used to days where I may not even look at spelling materials. However, I still set apart time to just skim over random languages or mess around with search functions. At least I’ve passed the time of obsessively reading through news articles about spelling bees or twitter threads, which can sometimes be surprisingly incendiary.

Spelling Withdrawals Pt.2- After the Bee

Day 1 After the Bee:

I am still very, very attached to the bee and most of my day is spent furiously typing at speeds I thought were impossible on Spelling Central. I believe that chat was extremely laggy due to overload to the point a message could take upwards of a minute to appear and where scrolling up or down was a distant thought. Eventually, I take a break from this and try to figure out something to do next. My first thought is, “Why don’t I look at some roots or languages” and then it all hit me at once. It was fin. The curtains had closed and the crowd had exited. “THE END” played through my mind like the ends of old films. I probably was never ever going to see anyone from spelling again (that is definitely false, beeunions are the best, in fact, I’ll be seeing some speller friends in a couple days)

I honestly had felt a little lost that day. I couldn’t figure out if I felt relieved or sad or happy that my spelling career or journey or whatever people call it was done, so I settled for a weird mixture. Many times throughout the day I found my self inching towards my well-loved (read: falling apart) books and notes, but a tiny niggling voice nagged at me saying “Isn’t this what you wanted, you can do anything you want to now.” Almost childishly, I responded with “But I do want to do spelling”

 

Ode to Schwa

Seriously, how many schwas are even in this word.

Spellers almost unanimously condemn the schwa as one of the most torturous sounds that one could ever receive. It is almost always met with sounds of despair and frustration. Some people going as far to assign epithets such as “Speller-slayer” or “The Ultimate Bane” as if it was a sword in the style of Tolkien or Martin. However, I feel that it almost could be described as an epitome of what allows spelling bees in English to exist. It’s the versatility of the schwa that also is reflected in the English language. If every single word in the English language followed a set of standard conventions then there would almost be no purpose at all at spelling words. It is the weird, wacky, wobbly sense of coherence that holds a Germanic language with a primarily Romance language vocabulary together. Its versatility is how lachsschinken and recercellee exist in the same language despite looking and sounding like a complete antithesis to each other. One hard, guttural consonants and the other soft sounds directed by its vowels.

So as an open letter to the schwa, I appreciate how you allow different words and sounds to be joined together to form even more amazing words. The sheer number of Latin and Greek words that use you as a sort of glue is testament to how much you are overlooked. After all, it’s biology, not bilogy.