This past Saturday was the annual Atlanta Open Orthographic Meet (spelling bee), which I compete in whenever possible.
Normally held at Manuel’s Tavern, this year it was at Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta, just down the road from our home, because Manuel’s is in the middle of renovations. I think this depressed turnout; I estimated only about a hundred competitors, whereas usually I think it’s twice that.
The format of this competition is not like the Scripps-Howard competition for schoolchildren that we’re all familiar with. This battle, restricted to adults, happens with pencil and paper, and victory is judged by the total number of words spelled correctly rather than by a sole survivor of a single-elimination process.
I captured the words to a separate list during the competition, and I’ll share them here. Where I misspelled a word, I’ve presented my spelling in strikethrough, with the correct spelling to the right.
- daquiri daiquiri
- chapparral chaparral
- cypher (cipher*)
Notes on Round One:
I misspelled two words. This is very unusual for me; I almost always ace the first round (my college-era self would be particularly disappointed that I misspelled “daiquiri”). But this year, I was in good company; no one aced the round, and the best score at this point was 19.
Also, my spelling of “cipher” was judged wrong by the committee, but I successfully argued that the “y” spelling is an acceptable British variant. I was a little surprised, because the committee strives not to include words with multiple spellings, and I think “cypher” is a pretty common variant, even among non-Anglophiles.
But at any rate, my score after Round One was 18, good enough to advance me to the second round. Some of these words are unusual enough that I’ve made each of them into links to their definitions online.
- neti pot
- racquis raki
- gimbol gimbal
- peccarino pecorino
- ren ibi renminbi
Notes on Round Two:
You can see it was getting tougher for me, as is typical for the second round. I usually get 11 of the 15 right, and I was true to form this year. My misspelling of “raki” shows how I overthink it sometimes; my misspelling of “gimbal” shows how long I’ve been out of the Navy (the big compass on the bridge of a ship is mounted on a gimbal ring).
I got lucky with “betise.” I hadn’t the slightest idea what what that word was.
I never had the slightest chance with “renminbi.”
After Round Two my score was 29, good enough to qualify for Round Three.
- capoera capoeira
- chitoignant chatoyant
- grellein ghrelin
- propedudic propaedeutic
- anypsychonia aniseikonia
- calc calque
- rhoticize rhotacize
- ecium aecium
Notes on Round Three:
The third round is usually the hill my hopes for victory die on, and this year was no exception. As you see, I only spelled “sporran” and “myrmidon” correctly. They were the only two words I already knew, and the way the enunciators pronounced “sporran” was so odd-sounding that I’d have misspelled it too if I hadn’t recognized the definition.
For “rhotacize,” I almost spelled it without an “h” until remembering that it’s probably Greek-derived and therefore should be spelled like the Greek letter “rho.” That the ending might be “-acize” rather than “-icize” never even occurred to me.
With only 31 words spelled correctly up to now, I did not advance to Round Four. But I went ahead and played for funsies anyway.
Round Four (Funsies)
Notes on Round Four:
Yeah, I had no chance with any of these.
Next year will be my year!