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The update on the Scripps official page for Covid-19 is a little outdated as gatherings over 10 are now not recommended.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.
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.
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
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.
So, quick breakdown of the format is 12 Offlist spelling questions, then 12 vocabulary questions followed by two more vocabulary questions.
- Grok (Literary term from Stranger in a Strange Land)
- Dissilient (Latin!)
- 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)
- Rucervine (Latin again? Rusa + Cervus= Rucervus (deer))
- Epollicate (Another Latin! E= without + Pollex= thumb)
- Indiscerptible (Latin once more In= not+ discerpere= tear apart)
- Sobornost (Russian)
- Passim (Latin, seriously?
- Avoirdupois (French- Avoir du Pois it’s pretty standard)
- Zuppa Inglese (Italian yum!)
- Diel (Latin- It’s the last finally. Di/a= day)
- 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!!
- Flak- criticism (slang!)
- Restive- fidgety (This was a trick question!)
- Exculpatory- vindicate (ex= remove, culp= blame)
- Raise Cain- to cause a commotion (Scripps even tweeted about this! Biblical references/slang)
- Ailurophile- lover of cats, has a bunch of kittens (ailuro= cats, phile= love)
- Megillah- long involved story (Some Biblical references just like 4/slang)
- Pyrosis- heartburn (pyr= fire, osis= condtion)
- Haymaker- punch (this is a bit slangy)
- Cyclopean- massive, huge (Greek myths!)
- Tritaph- tomb with 3 chambers (Tri= three+ taph= tomb, think epitaph)
- Manque- unsuccessful, frustrated (manquer= to lack)
- 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?
- Verso- left handed side (Latin, page being turned)
- 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.
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.
Soo, once again, the spellers onstage wowed us all. Their unrelenting determination and composure helped 16 of the finalists to continue on to the primetime finals. This is a record number of finalist as the cutoff is generally for 12 or less spellers.
The words in the Morning Finals primarily consisted of a bunch of Root, Geological, and Mythological words. Oh, and the oodles of mollusk words.
Can’t wait for the finals to start!
Well, that was a maelstrom. Here are all of the spellers that are continuing on the finals tomorrow morning. Some of them are familiar names and others are new names, but all of them definitely deserve to be in the finals.
If I could summarize the Round 3 in one sentence it would be:
Dr. Bailly restarting the yanny/laurel debate, geography, portmanteaux, mythology, and phrases.
The sentences, as usual, were hilarious. There really were a lot of portmanteau words which essentially are just two or more words meshed together. For example Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) or celtuce (celery +lettuce). I personally think that celery is better than lettuce though. There were a couple phrases thrown in from the written test to the oral rounds. Mythology words appeared a tad bit in between.
However, there were slight disparities in words difficulty throughout the rounds and I personally felt that the words got harder and trickier as successive groups spelled.
Good luck to all of the spellers tomorrow!
Here are the words from the preliminaries round of Scripps. The words and vocabulary were more difficult than past years so the cutoff score may be lower than past years. However, given the number of students, it is highly likely that the cutoff will lead to a lot of tiebreaking so there may be less spellers in the morning finals. I’m personally predicting a cutoff of around 28.
Round 1 Spelling
Round 1 Vocab
- insuperable- not able to surpass
- chockablock- crowded, filled
- explicit- clear explicit expression
- timocracy- wealth, honor, glory are the way to rule
- dittography- repeated letters in a word
- mano a mano- it literally mean hand- to hand
- anfractuous- going around in circles
- festucine- straw yellow (color)
- lalopathy- speech disorder
- apercu- brief reference
- ironical- peaceful
- reticulate- resembling a net (reticularii were gladiators that fought with nets)
Round 2 Vocab
- comptroller- financial officer
Round 3 Vocab
- timorous- nervousness. fear