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.

Root #2- sphingo-

The root “sphingo-” comes from the Greek word sphingein which means to to hold fast. There are 12 different entries containing this root.

  • glycosphingolipid- any of various lipids (such as a cerebroside or a ganglioside)
  • sphingometer- an instrument for measuring the bending of a strut (as by deflection of beams of light)
  • sphingomyelin- any of a group of crystalline phospholipids that are obtained especially from nerve tissue and that on hydrolysis yield a fatty acid
  • sphingosine- an unsaturated amino obtained by hydrolysis of various sphingomyelins, cerebrosides, and gangliosides
  • Sphinx- this word may not seem to contain the root, however, the Sphinx in Greek mythology would ask a riddle to any travelers and if they could not answer correctly, she would bind them with a curse.

 

Many words with the root “sphingo-” are related to lipids in some way. Going into a bit of chemistry, lipids are long chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms which are bound together.

Root #1- Omphal/o-

The root “omphal/o-” comes from the Greek word omphalos meaning “navel.” There are 14 entries in the dictionary containing this root.

  • omphalitis- Inflammation of the umbilicus
  • omphaloid- resembling an umbilicus
  • omphalomesenteric- of or relating to the umbilicus and mesentery
  • omphaloskepsis- meditation while staring fixedly at one’s navel
  • omphalion- the center of the umbilicus