Tuesday morning brings the first onstage round— all spellers will complete Round 2 of the preliminaries and Group One spellers will complete Round 3 (both rounds will be broadcast on ESPN3 so your family and friends back home can watch). Since there are 565 spellers competing, these rounds are as much a test of patience as they are of spelling skill. Take advantage of breaks to take a walk and/or drink some water, and don’t try to spell everyone else’s word—you may end up stressing yourself out or getting tired. When you are up spelling, it may be nerve-wracking to see all the lights and cameras focused on you, but ignore it all. Just focus on Dr. Bailly are the word you’re being asked to spell, and you will be fine.On Wednesday, Group Two spellers will finish Round 3 of the preliminaries. At the conclusion of the preliminaries, you will receive an email with your score from the preliminaries test on Monday. The finalists will also be announced around this time. If you don’t qualify as a finalist, you’re definitely allowed to take some time to be sad, but definitely go out and support the finalists on Thursday. Lots of spellers will also attend, so this is a great opportunity to get BeeKeeper signatures and meet new people. If you do qualify as a finalist, enjoy the moment and prepare yourself for a lot of media attention. Make sure to get some rest before Thursday; it will be a very long day.
In 2017, the Scripps National Spelling Bee transitioned from the print version of the Merriam-Webster Third New International dictionary (which is also the CD ROM version) to the online Unabridged dictionary (unabridged.merriam-webster.com).
This blog post will discuss the differences between these two versions of the dictionaries so you are familiar with the changes.
Pronunciation of Words
There are some slight differences in pronunciation between the two versions of the dictionary. Some examples are:
|Word||Print/CD Dictionary||Online Dictionary|
|mattock||mad.ǝk, -atǝk||ˈmatək, -atək|
|tare||ta(a)](ǝ)r, ‘te], ]ǝ||ˈter|
|flair||fla(a)](ǝ)r, ‘fle], ]ǝ||ˈfler|
|square||skwa(a)](ǝ)r, -we], ]ǝ||ˈskwer|
|revert||rə̇’vǝr]t, rē’-, -vӛ], -vǝi], usu ]t+V||ri-ˈvərt|
|board||bō(ǝ)rd, -ȯ(ǝ)rd, -ōǝd, -ȯ(ǝ)d||ˈbȯrd|
|forth||fō(ǝ)rth, ‘fȯ(ǝ)rth, ‘fōǝth, ‘fȯ(ǝ)th||ˈfȯrth|
|coarse||kō(ǝ)rs, -ȯ(ǝ)rs, -ōǝs, -ȯ(ǝ)s||ˈkȯrs|
|forth||fō(ǝ)rth, ‘fȯ(ǝ)rth, ‘fōǝth, ‘fȯ(ǝ)th||ˈfȯrth|
|answer||an(t)sǝ(r), ‘aan-, ‘ain-, ‘ån-||ˈan(t)-sər|
Note: While the print dictionary has the diacritical symbol /d./, the online dictionary has replace this with /t/.
Some words have different alternative pronunciations between the two dictionaries. Here are some of these words:
|Word||Print/CD Dictionary||Online Dictionary|
|chelator||kē͵lātǝ(r)||ˈkē-ˌlā-tər; kē-ˈlā-tər also chē-|
|sleazy||slēzē, -zi||ˈslē-zē also ˈslā-|
|Aristotelian||¦arə̇stǝ¦tēlyǝn, ¦a͵ris-, -lēǝn also ¦er- or ǝ¦ris- or a¦ris-||¦a-rə-stə-¦tēl-yən|
|luxe||lǝks||ˈlu̇ks, ˈləks, ˈlüks|
|crevalle||krǝ’valē, -lǝ, -lā||kri-ˈva-lē|
|aminophylline||ǝ͵mēnō’fi͵lēn, |amǝ͵nō’-; ͵amǝ’näfǝ͵-||ˌa-mə-ˈnä-fə-lən|
|leipzig||līpsi]g, -sē]||ˈlīp-sig, -sik|
Some words are spelled differently between both dictionaries, such as:
|Print/CD Dictionary||Online Dictionary|
New Online Words
The online dictionary has a lot of new words that the print dictionary did not have. Scripps has asked a lot of these new online words in their bees, such as xylorimba, turducken, mizuna, and Beringia. In fact, a few of these new words were asked at the National Spelling Bee in 2017, such as arribada, clafouti, Bruneian, and bucatini.
SpellPundit is one of the only study resources that has completely incorporated all the spelling/pronunciation changes in the online dictionary. Our New Online Words Module has with over 4000 words for spellers to learn these words and test themselves.
It was an exciting Bee! Congratulations to the 2018 National Spelling Bee Champion Karthik Nemmani and runner-up Naysa Modi, who are both SpellPundit students.
This year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee finals finished with 60 words. Every one of these words is in SpellPundit Spelling Modules Levels 1 through 4 or the New Online Words module (please refer to https://spellpundit.com/spellshakti/how-to-spelling/ for detailed descriptions about all the different SpellPundit modules).
Many of the words in the final rounds of the spelling bee are in the SpellPundit Level 3 Spelling module. A few examples are:
Cabalassou: a large armadillo
Paillasson: coarsely woven natural or synthetic straw used for hats
Bewusstseinslage: a state of consciousness or a feeling devoid of sensory components
Shamir: a very hard precious stone believed to have been used in building Solomon’s temple
Gelinotte: a European woodland grouse related to the American ruffed grouse
Bundestag: an assembly of representatives of a federation
The following are word asked in the National Spelling Bee finals that are in the SpellPundit New Online Words Module:
Mnemosyne: the Greek goddess of memory and mother of the Muses by Zeus
Loratadine: a long-acting, nonsedating antihistamine drug taken orally to relieve symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis and chronic urticaria
Pareidolia: the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful, image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern
Ankyloglossia: limited normal movement of the tongue chiefly due to an abnormally shortened frenulum : tongue-tie
There were a few homonyms (such as aalii and telyn) asked at this year’s Bee, which are in the new SpellPundit Homonyms module.
There were a few words based on roots, which are found in the SpellPundit Roots Modules:
Succiniferous: bearing amber
succin- (amber) + -iferous (bearing or producing or yielding)
Lophophytosis: a contagious skin disease found in birds that is caused by a fungus occurring in man on hairy surfaces that become covered with yellowish crusts
lopho- (crest, tuft, or comb) + phyt- (plant) + -osis (abnormal or diseased condition)
Ecchymosis: the escape of blood into the tissues from ruptured blood vessels
ec- (out) + chym- (juice) + -osis (abnormal or diseased condition)
Pseudepigrapha: spurious words purporting to emanate from biblical characters
pseud- (false) + epi- (upon) + graph (to write)
Overall, there was an interesting mix of words asked at this year’s National Spelling Bee. SpellPundit’s modules can help you learn all the words you need to know to become a primetime finalist, and even bring home the trophy!
The Scripps National Spelling Bee, a.k.a. “Bee Week,” begins today! If you qualified for the National Spelling Bee this year, congratulations and good luck! This blog post will let you know what to expect at Bee Week, and I give you my top 3 tips for the week.
On Sunday, you will attend an orientation, where the National Spelling Bee (NSB) staff will give you a schedule for the week and some goodies. They will give you a BeeKeeper, which has a page with information about every speller at the Bee. When spellers meet, they will autograph each other’s BeeKeepers, which is one of the coolest traditions at the NSB.
Monday morning and afternoon is the Memorial Day BBQ. You will take a bus to a nearby park, where you can play around with other spellers and eat lots of good food. ESPN will also be doing some interviews here, so you might get a taste of the spotlight before competition even begins. The opening ceremony is in the evening, and this will get every speller excited for the bee to begin.
Get some sleep on Monday night, because Tuesday is a big day. The preliminaries test is at 8am in the morning, and then Round 2 of the preliminaries starts immediately after that (it will be broadcast on ESPN3 so your family and friends back home can watch). In the evening, Peter Sokolowski, the editor of the Merriam-Webster dictionary that the NSB gets their words from, will give a talk about his work at Merriam-Webster and how words in English were formed. I learned a lot from this presentation, and I highly recommend attending.
Wednesday is Round 3 of the preliminaries. At the conclusion of the preliminaries, you will receive an email with your score from the preliminaries test on Tuesday. The finalists will also be announced around this time. If you don’t qualify as a finalist, take some time to be sad, but definitely go out and support your finalist friends on Thursday. If you do qualify as a finalist, enjoy the moment and prepare yourself for a lot of media attention.
Thursday is a very big day for all the finalists. The morning finals start at 10 am, and they continue until there are 12 or less spellers remaining, who all move on to the evening finals. If you are an evening finalist, you will have a session with ESPN to make a short video about you, and then you will have a few hours to rest. Before the start of the finals, the NSB will provide you dinner and then you will get your hair and makeup done for TV. Enjoy being on ESPN Primetime, because you are (literally) one speller out of a million to get this opportunity. At the end of the night, and after many difficult words, the Scripps National Spelling Bee champion is crowned!
Friday is a great time to do some sightseeing and relax. The NSB offers a Washington, D.C. tour, but you can always stay back at the hotel to hang out with spellers or look around Oxon Hill. If you are the champion, you will spend all morning doing interviews with news channels all over America, In the evening is the awards banquet, where all spellers who competed are recognized for their accomplish-ments and Bee Week is officially concluded. Afterwards is the Farewell Party, which is my favorite part of the week. You can hang out with your speller friends on the dance floor or take funny pictures at the photo booth. The NSB closes the ballroom around midnight, but spellers will hang out around the hotel even after that.
Here are my overall tips for those at Bee Week:
1. MEET PEOPLE! You are in a hotel with over 500 people from all over the United States and the world. If you ever have some free time, go explore the hotel—there will always be spellers in the lobby, atrium, or ballroom area. Make sure you have your BeeKeeper with you, since it’s a great icebreaker and helps people identify you as a speller. Whenever you see a speller, ask them to sign your BeeKeeper and start a conversation with them! I’ve met some amazing people this way, and I still keep in touch with them, even 3 years after the Bee.
You can also make friends up on stage. Everyone at the NSB says, “You are competing against the dictionary, not each other,” and this is definitely true. You will be amazed at the camaraderie between all the spellers on stage, and since you will be next to them on stage for a few hours, you can definitely take the opportunity to start a conversation with them (I actually used this as a way to distract myself from being nervous).
Definitely take the time to meet some NSB alumni as well. We all love Bee Week so much that we come back year after year, even after we have “retired” from the Bee. These NSB alumni have all been in your shoes before and can offer you unique advice during the week. A lot of them are also very successful and they are going to amazing universities like Yale, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, etc., so you can ask them about that also!
2. Take care of yourself at Bee Week. There is so much happening that it’s easy to forget to eat food, drink water, and get sleep. Don’t spend all your time at the bee holed up in your hotel room to cram a lot of new words. You probably won’t remember these words later, and it will just stress you out more. If you do feel the need to study, review some easier words that you have seen before.
To do your best up on stage, make sure you drink lots of water, and have a snack during the breaks. The lights and cameras on stage can get overwhelming, so don’t forget to leave the stage during the breaks and walk around a little bit.
You have studied for long hours for this bee. Be calm and confident, do your best, and everything will work itself out.
3. Enjoy the NSB Experience as much as you can! The National Spelling Bee has lots of fun activities throughout the week, which are also great places to meet spellers. Go to as many of these events as possible and don’t forget to bring your BeeKeeper!
Oxon Hill is a beautiful town with lots of great places to sightsee and some amazing restaurants— take advantage of them when you have time. The Capitol Wheel (a Ferris wheel near the hotel) has a great view of Oxon Hill and the Potomac River. Oxon Hill is also very close to Washington, D.C., so you can visit the White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, etc. if you haven’t been there before.
Bee Week is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so enjoy it as much as possible. If you are still eligible next year, take a break from studying for a while, then start working so you can qualify again!
Once again, good luck to everyone competing and may the best speller win!
If you’re not able to attend the National Spelling Bee in person, you can still watch it on TV:
- Round 2 (May 29): 9:15 AM to 12:05 PM ET and 1-5:20 PM ET on ESPN3
- Round 3 (May 30): 8 AM to 12:35 PM ET and 2-5:30 PM ET on ESPN3
Finals (May 31)
- Morning Round: 10 AM ET on ESPN2
- Evening Round: 8:30-10:30 PM ET on ESPN
* You can test yourself on the words by watching the play-along version of the preliminaries on ESPN3 and the finals on ESPNU.
There are about 470,000 words in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. These words come from over 10,000 languages. The English language belongs to the Indo-European family of languages. As you can see in the map (Source: Western Oregon University) below, Indo-European languages are spoken all over the world. Because all of these languages came from one common language, you will see many similarities between words of different origins. You will also see many words in the dictionary that may have come from Sanskrit, then went into Norwegian, then into Old English.
The Indo-European language family (Source: The Human Mosaic, 10th Edition) is divided into many sub-groups, including Greek, Germanic, Romance, Slavic, Baltic, Celtic, Indic, Iranic, etc.
Many of the words that are asked in spelling bees come from this language family. Because the Indo-European language family makes up a high percentage of all the words in the dictionary, it is useful to learn the language patterns for all of these languages.
You will also see many words asked at spelling bees that come from languages that aren’t in the Indo-European family such as Austro-Asiatic, Finno-Ugric, Afro-Asiatic, Sino-Tibetan, Dravidian, etc. We will discuss these language families in another post.
SpellPundit is a one-stop resource for spelling, vocabulary, roots, homonyms, phrased/hyphenated words, and custom lists. SpellShakti, SpellPundit’s affiliated blog, was created to provide tips and resources for aspiring spellers.
The number one question every new speller has is, “How do I study for spelling bees?” To be a successful speller, you need to be interested in the English language and you need to have a good strategy to learn a lot of words quickly.
A lot of people think spelling is boring because it requires a lot of memorization, but this is untrue. The way the words are spelled is not random— many are a combination of Latin/Greek roots or certain language patterns. Spelling becomes fun when you learn roots and patterns, because then it becomes a puzzle. For example, if you are asked to spell the word “cinephile” (a lover of motion pictures), you can piece it together using roots, even if you’ve never seen the word before. The Greek root “cine-“ is short for cinema and “–phile” is from the Greek root “philos” meaning loving. Another example of a word you can make an educated guess about is the German word schalstein (a metamorphic rock formed from basalt). In German, the /sh/ sound is typically spelled “sch” and the German word “stein” means stone. Once you learn roots and language patterns, you won’t need to memorize many words, and spelling will become enjoyable.
As for an efficient study strategy, there is no substitute for hard work and practice. Every successful speller practices over the whole year. Studying spelling every single day is the best way to learn a lot of words and remember them well. The summer is a great time to learn lots of new words, since you’ll have more free time. The SpellPundit modules can help you learn all the words you need to know accurately and quickly.
The Merriam-Webster online unabridged dictionary (unabridged.merriam-webster.com), the official dictionary of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, has 470,000 words total. However, a lot of these words are very easy (ex. cat, dog, and, but) and/or repetitive (ex. ask, asking, asked). By removing these words, the 470,000 words can be condensed to about 100,000 base words. Suddenly, the dictionary is smaller and more manageable to learn.
The SpellPundit database has these 100,000 base words with the pronunciation, definition, part of speech, and language of origin for each word. You can read through a set of words in flashcard format, and then you can test yourself on these words. You can also re-test yourself on any words you missed. This helps you learn words quickly and gives you a competitive advantage at spelling bees.
In 2013, the Scripps National Spelling Bee started testing spellers on vocabulary. Some regional spelling bees also ask vocabulary questions. SpellPundit vocabulary module is a very efficient way to learning words and their definitions. Just like the spelling module, the vocab modules allow you to study words and then test yourself.
One area where a lot of spellers get tripped up is with homophones and homonyms, which are when two or more words are pronounced the same way, but they have different definitions and spellings. For example: phrase has 2 homonyms: fraise and frase. SpellPundit allows you to study these homonyms and learn the differences between them so you will never get confused during a bee.
Last year, the Scripps National Spelling Bee transitioned from the print version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary to the online dictionary (unabridged.merriam-webster.com). This online dictionary has a lot of words that the print dictionary did not have. Scripps has starting asked a lot of these new words in their bees, such as xylorimba, turducken, mizuna, and Beringia. In fact, there were quite a few of these new words in the National Spelling Bee last year, such as arribada, clafouti, Bruneian, and bucatini. SpellPundit is different from other study resources on the market because it has all these new online words in its database for spellers to learn and test themselves.
Scripps has also recently incorporated phrased and hyphenated words into their spelling and vocabulary rounds. These words are idioms and phrases that are commonly used in conversation and in writing. Some of these words have made an appearance in regional bees, such as vingt-et-un, alla prima, and pro rata. SpellPundit’s phrased and hyphenated modules have a comprehensive list of all these words in the dictionary. These modules allow a speller to practice both the spelling and definitions of these words.
SpellPundit also offers custom lists, like Paideia, Consolidated Word List, North South Foundation list words, etc. These lists are available in both learning and testing modes.
All of SpellPundit’s modules are divided into sets of 500 words each. This is a reasonable amount of words to study in a couple of hours for novice spellers. This makes the process of learning the dictionary less overwhelming.
If you have an interest in words and you want to become a successful speller, SpellPundit is a great resource to use in your preparation. We have all the resources you need, and by using our website, you can learn all these words accurately and efficiently.
Visit our website (www.spellpundit.com) to explore our free modules and see how SpellPundit can be your key to success!