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Posts Tagged ‘spelling bee

“It is a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word”*…

 

The 9-15-year-olds who compete in the annual Scripps Spelling Bee tend to delight in words like “flibbertigibbet,” “onomatopoeia,” “schadenfreude,” “syzygy,” “tchotchke” and “triskaidekaphobia.”  We normal humans are forced to seek help with much simpler words like “grey,” “cancelled” and “Hanukkah.”  Vocativ used Google Trends data to learn which words were most frequently spellchecked in each state; along the way, they detected some interesting patterns, for instance:

Out of all the states, Idaho turned to Google for spelling assistance most often, and when it did, the state’s most Googled spelling was “antelope.” Idahoans struggled with “cevilian” [sic] and stumbled over “tongue”. On the bottom of the list of spellchecking states, the confident writers and readers of Oregon resorted to Google least often, only using it for spellchecks 28% as frequently as Idaho residents, according to Google data.

Here’s their summary chart:

Read more (and see a larger version) at “These Words Would Knock Your State Out Of the National Spelling Bee.”

* Andrew Jackson

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As we spell “spell,” we might send acerbic birthday greetings to journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, and critic Henry Louis “H. L.” Mencken; he was born on this date in 1880.  Mencken is the author of the philological work The American Language, and is remembered for his journalism (e.g., his coverage of the Scopes Trial) and for his cultural criticism (and editorship of American Mercury— published by Alfred Knopf, also born on this date, but 12 years after Mencken ) in which he championed such writers as D.H. Lawrence, Ford Madox Ford, and Sherwood Anderson.  But “H.L.” is probably most famous for the profusion of pointed one-liners and adages that leavened his work…

The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.

Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

I believe in only one thing and that thing is human liberty. If ever a man is to achieve anything like dignity, it can happen only if superior men are given absolute freedom to think what they want to think and say what they want to say. I am against any man and any organization which seeks to limit or deny that freedom. . . [and] the superior man can be sure of freedom only if it is given to all men.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

Truth would quickly cease to be stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it.

And on spelling:

“Correct” spelling, indeed, is one of the arts that are far more esteemed by schoolma’ams than by practical men, neck-deep in the heat and agony of the world.

H.L. Mencken, photograph by Carl Van Vechten

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Written by LW

July 29, 2015 at 1:01 am

Casting a spell: spelling “aghast”…

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Don’t be left out; join in the fun!  Play Oxford Dictionaries On-Line Spelling Bee!

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As we chant to ourselves “‘i’ before ‘e’, except after ‘c’,” we might send mysterious birthday greetings to writer, poet, playwright, essayist, translator, and Christian humanist Dorothy L. Sayers; she was born on this date in 1893.  While she’s surely best remembered as a crime novelist– the creator of Lord Peter Wimsey– she considered her translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Penguin Classics, in three volumes, e.g., here) to be her best work.

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Written by LW

June 13, 2012 at 1:01 am

Transmuting base (instincts) into gold…

The folks at 826LA (an institution inspired, it seems, by 826 Valencia in SF) have performed an alchemical feat:  they’ve made cheating good!

click here for a larger view, and sign-up info

One simply forms a team, raises tax-deductible contributions to 826LA– then spends that loot on “cheats” (explained here) in the contest.  A good time is had by all– and 826LA gets to continue its work “helping students across Los Angeles finish all their homework, write their first books, and become all-around more confident writers.”

As we practice recognizing diphthongs by ear, we might recall that it was on this date in 1811 that Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron) returned from the two-year trip that was the inspiration for Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812)…  as a result of the publication of which, Byron became a major pop star– whose taste, manners, and fashion were all widely imitated.  Quoth the startled poet: “I awoke one morning and found myself famous.”

Byron (by Thomas Phillips)

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