I used to think I was good at English spelling. Until I saw the 2006 National Spelling Bee contest. 90% of the words, I couldn’t even pronounce, leave alone spell! The kids taking part were no older than 14 or 15 and my god, they were amazing! And I still, for the world of me, don’t know how they could spell a word that’s pronounced ‘sittacism’ correctly as ‘psittacism’ (the silent ‘p’!!!). I’m guessing there are some rules for the way words are spelt based on their language of origin and the phonetics. The only other explanation can be that these kids have a dictionary-loaded microchip embedded in their brains that lets them do all this. The first seems more plausible, doesn’t it?
The words were amazing too. I haven’t come across these words in my Oxford dictionary (that I used to read a dictionary for time-pass is a totally different story), but I have a feeling if I go back and check now, I might just find them **shrugs**. I’m glad GRE doesn’t test on spelling. I had trouble with the words even otherwise. I also had trouble with the analytical and quantitative sections, but that’s beside the point anyway.
The contest was won by a 13-yr old who got her last word, ‘ursprache’, right. When I first heard the word, I thought this is it, she’s finished. Well, she proved me wrong (like a lot of people do so very often). To see the other words that she got right: Click here
I was really in awe of all the participants in the contest. I know it takes a lot of hard work to get there and I’m happy for them and their proud parents. For an English fan like me, more specifically for a person who goes to Dictionary.com at least 20 times a day – this was absolutely mindboggling.
So, here starts my quest to learn how to spell. Better late than never, no?
Oh, BTW, I got 2 words right: ‘izzat’ and ‘kundalini’ – they had a Hindi and Sanskrit origin you see. 😉