National Spelling Bee VI
Bill Long 5/31/08
Well, Round 10 turned out to be the tough one. Four spellers fell, making them each tied for eighth place.
Samia from AR was next. "Escabeche"--fish which is cooked and soaked in a marinade of seasoned vinegar, and often served cold, was spelled correctly. Escabeche is the Spanish word for 'pickled,' and usually refers to fish that's been fried first, then marinated in a flavored vinegar. Here is a picture and description. Right on.
Tia got "propylaeum," an entrance to a temple or other sacred enclosure. Got it right. Hit it out of the park. The extra "a" didn't faze her.
Justin was next. He got "satyagraha"--the Gandhian method of non-violence. He always looks like he is going to miss the word, but he always seems to pull through. This time, he missed it, by doubling the "t."
Kyle was up and got "lapies," a surface formation met most commonly in limestone districts, known also by the German term Karren. It has been used in English since 1902. Oops, Kyle got it wrong, for he spelled it like the Spanish word for pencil. Here is a Britannica definition: "weathered limestone surface found in karst regions and consisting of etched, fluted, and pitted rock pinnacles separated by deep grooves."
Rosa got "fumagillin," an antibiotic. It is an unstable colorless crystalline compound which has power against some viruses and protozoa. She was delighted at getting it right. It is produced by the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus; hence the name.
Sameer got "chorion"--the vascular membrane, the outermost membrane enveloping the fetus before birth. Derived from the Greek chorion (starting letter a 'chi'). He got it! A good and difficult word.
Kavya got "martellato"--"heavily accented and left before their full time has expired; percussive." It comes from the Italian martellare--to hammer, and thus it means "hammered." From 1995: "Two of Orff's favorite markings for his massed pianos and percussion are martellato ('hammered') and martellatissimo ('hammered as hard as possible'). It is a forcefult, detached touch.
Sidharth got a word meaning a tomb of a Muslim saint --"ziarat." It is also a Muslim place of pilgrimage; a shrine. The word comes from Hindi, which got it from Urdu, which took it from the Arabic ziyarat, which means "pilgrimage." Sidharth got it right, and the crowd went wild.
Cat then got "bogatyr"--a legendary medieval hero of Russia. She looked confused by the word, probably not having seen it previously. She asked again for a definition, before missing it. She tied, then, for eighth, a very impressive showing. Spelled it bogateer. Oh, here is a photo of an 1868 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov entitled "Bogatyrs."
Scott was next, getting "lemel," metal filings. The OED also spelled it limail, so I guess the Third International only has the one spelling of it. The Latin verb behind it, limare, means "to file." Scott got it right. Good for him.
Jahvani got "parfleche," a variety of thick stiff rawhide, esp. of a buffalo, traditionally prepared by some North American Indian peoples to produce a hard-wearing leather. She looked quizzical and pensive for a while, before missing it. Here is a Sioux "parfleche" bag from the 19th century.
Thus, at the end of Round 10, we had 7 spellers left in the competition. All those who went out in Round 10 thus tied for 8th.
Samia got "huapango," a fast and complicated Mexican dance, derived from a Mexican name. It is performed on a wooden platform. She began the word with a "w," which spelled her end. Here is a brief article on it and, even better, a YouTube video on it.
Tia then got "rhyton"--an ancient drinking horn with the head of a beast or other mythological creature. She confidently smiled and spelled it directly.
Rose was next. She got "sheitel," a wig worn by orthodox Jewish women. SHAY tel is the pronunciation. Though this might not be familiar to many people, there is a web site sheitel.com, which sells the wigs. In addition, this article tells you all about them. She probably confused it with the word shtetl, because the final syllable she rendered was "tl." Too bad. She is a great speller and a great girl.
Sameer was next. "Nacarat" was his word--a vivid red stronger than apple red. It appear in several images on Google. Here is one. Sameer spelled it several times on the back of his card, looked confused, covered his face, and then went for it. He got it right! Good job.
Kavya was next. Her word was ecrase, a word meaning "crushed" or "flattened." Have to know your French, or it will be difficult. She seemed not to be fully confident of herself in this word, spelling it out on her hand several times. She spelled it ecrasee; she is heartbroken, but has one more year to go.
Sidharth is next, a confident tie-wearing boy of 12. "Posaune" (po ZOU ne) was the word. An old word for trombone or the German word for trumpet. He got it right.
Scott got "thymele," which an ancient Greek altar. It is pronunced THI muh lee. It is from thyein, to sacrifice. He spelled it thymale. It was a great try, tied for fourth. One thing you realize is that you never forget the word you miss. Scott will do very well for himself in the future.
Copyright © 2004-2008 William R. Long