Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Burdened With Cymotrichous, I Think

There's something about knowing people that are smarter than we are that keeps us...well, humble. Television capitalized on that with a program touting 5th graders as being smarter than adults (though later, it was discovered that the kids were given answers beforehand, in some cases). Be that as it may, even ESPN has jumped on the "smart kids" bandwagon by televising rounds of the National Spelling Bee: a decision that leaves us all feeling a bit less intelligent than we would ordinarily believe ourselves to be. Of course, it goes without saying that the contestants probably don't spend a lot of time watching reality TV or even ESPN, for that matter. There is even a movie about it: Akila and the Bee in which even drug dealers are encouraged to help this deserving, smart child win the national bee
Throughout the course of the event, words have gotten more difficult, but in the early days, at least the words were something many people had, at least, HEARD before. To wit:

1927: in the first year of the national spelling bee, the winning word was "luxuriance."
1937: the winning word this time around was "promiscuous."
1948: by this year, we'd moved up to "psychiatry."
1965: the winner successfully spelled "eczema." If only I'd gotten that instead of "calisthenics."
1970: the toughest word was "croissant."
1982: "Psoriasis" took home the trophy for a spelling whiz.

OK, you get the idea. While many of us still can't spell some of those words, at least we've all heard of them. Now, let's look at the last two winning words:

2011: "cymotrichous"
2012 "ghetapeus"

really. I could not, in all probability, pronounce either word, and probably couldn't spell either of them, despite asking for language of origin, use in a sentence, and a plea for a lifeline call. ..and I darn sure could not tell you what either of them means. But this year, in an attempt to cement spelling and meaning as two sides of the communication coin, contestants in the National Spelling Bee will have to know definitions as well as spelling! That's just mean-spirited, in my opinion.
And guaranteed to make me feel even more stupid before changing the channel to Buckwild.


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