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.
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”
I highly suggest participating in these because participating in as many bees is a great way to get used to spelling on stage.