Insider’s Guide to the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee – Washington D.C.

Today many spellers were able to leisurely enjoy the sights of Washington D.C. In past years, my family has gone to the National Archives, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the Natural History Museum. Last year, thanks to Congressman John Yarmuth of KY, we visited the White House and enjoyed a private tour of the Capitol Building.

This year, we decided to take the water taxi from National Harbor to the National Mall. We enjoyed the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. It was a good day to relax and reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead – there is yet so much more to learn and I’m excited to begin the journey again but first I’m going to take a much needed break!

Tonight I look forward to the Awards Banquet and the party afterwards!

Insider’s Guide to the 2017 National Spelling Bee – A champion is declared!

The 2017 Scripps Spelling Bee champion is Ananya Vinay of Fresno, CA.  Ananya was letter-perfect through 34 rounds. The winning word was marocain, a ribbed crepe fabric used in women’s clothing.

Congratulations also to Rohan Rajeev, an eighth grader from OK, who was the runner-up in this year’s Bee.

Insider’s Guide to the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee – Finals (Part 1)

The Finals started this morning at 10:00 a.m. with 40 spellers.  Rounds 4-7 were tough and the words got progressively harder. At the end of Round 7, 15 spellers remained and will continue to spell tonight in the Championship Finals. I missed my Round 6 word, “piatti,” the Italian word for cymbals. My final ranking this year is 18 – a slight improvement over last year’s 22nd.

The best part of this morning was sitting near some AWESOME people who made me smile and feel more relaxed on stage. Thank you Siyona, Shourav, Jashun, Alex, and Naysa.

Good luck to all of the remaining Finalists!

Insider’s Guide to the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee – Rounds 2 and 3

Hello everyone! Round 2 of the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee commenced this morning. The round started with 291 spellers and ended with 259 spellers. A total of 32 spellers missed their words in this round and were eliminated from the competition. In Round 3, 71 spellers incorrectly spelled their words which left a total of 188 spellers in the competition.

In Round 2, I correctly spelled miniver, a white fur worn by medieval nobles and used chiefly for robes of state In Round 3, I correctly spelled Guamanian, which means “of or related to the inhabitants of Guam.”

Up to fifty spellers with the highest scores through Round 3 move onto the Finals which occur tomorrow morning and end in the evening. I was ecstatic when my name was announced to be one of 40 Finalists!

Congratulations to all the other Finalists in the Bee and good luck!

Insider’s Guide to the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee – Round 1

Round 1 of the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee commenced today with the Preliminaries Written Test. The test contained 12 spelling words worth one point each and 12 vocabulary words also worth one point each. There were an additional two vocabulary words worth 3 points each – one of these words came from a study list provided by the Bee while the other one came from the dictionary. The total number of points that can be accrued in Round 1 is 30. As soon the written test becomes available, I will be sure to post it so you can test your spelling and vocabulary knowledge!

The onstage rounds start tomorrow morning; each of the words in Round 2 and Round 3 is worth 3 points each. If a speller misses onstage, he/she is eliminated from the competition. Up to fifty spellers with the most number of points after Round 3 move on to the Finals which are on Thursday. Finalists will be announced after Round 3 tomorrow evening.

Insider’s Guide to the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee – Nationals Park and Opening Ceremony

Today spellers and their families were treated to a Memorial Day barbecue at Nationals Park, home to the Washington Nationals baseball team and it was quite a thrilling experience! We enjoyed face painting, batting cages, crafts, and inflatables and got a chance to interact with many other families. The Nationals team mascots, “Screech,” “George,” and “Abe” were also there and many spellers did not miss the opportunity to take some “spellfies” with them. This was also a great opportunity to meet other spellers and collect more autographs in my Bee Keeper.

At the Opening Ceremony this evening, we were introduced to Scripps Spelling Bee staff, volunteers, and Bee officials including the pronouncer, Dr. Jacques Bailly, and the head judge, Mrs. Mary Brooks. Tomorrow is the first official day of competition; it begins in the morning with the preliminary written exam (Round 1). On Wednesday, Round 2 and Round 3 will take place on stage.

Good luck to all the spellers competing in the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee!

Insider’s Guide to the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee – The Journey Begins

The spellers competing in the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee have all arrived in Washington D.C.!

Bee Week officially kicked off today with a Spellebrity Welcome in which spellers received their “swag bags” and a special gift from Kindle, the presenting sponsor of the Bee.  This was my first opportunity to meet the other spellers and it was so much fun! I saw many familiar faces and many more new faces. Of course, the most exciting part of the event was when I received my Bee Keeper, a picture book with interesting facts about each of the spellers. Each year I vow to collect every speller’s autograph in my Bee Keeper and each year, I fail miserably. However, this year, I am determined to meet all the spellers and get their autographs in my Bee Keeper.

Terms of Venery (ve-nə-rē)

Hello everyone! This is an unusual post as it is not about the exploration of one word but of a group of terms that many of us use everyday. Collective nouns are words that are used to describe a collection of people, animals, or things. You are likely familiar with collective nouns such as a “herd” of horses or a “pride” of lions, but there are some collective nouns that are uncommon and rarely used. Terms such as “murmuration of starlings” and “chattering of choughs” are quite possibly the most poetic and colorful aspects of the English language, in my opinion.

Many collective nouns that we use today can be traced back to The Book of St. Albans printed  in 1486. This book covered matters related to gentlemanly pursuits namely hawking, hunting, and heraldry; it also included a large list of collective nouns for animals. This book became very popular and was re-printed many times throughout the sixteenth century for it was essential and necessary for a medieval gentleman to know the appropriate terms for animals to indicate that he was well educated and adept at hunting.

Terms of venery are essentially collective nouns. The word venery comes from the Latin word venari, which means to hunt so terms of venery refer to hunting or animals that are hunted. Many of the terms in The Book of St. Albans refer to game animals, however, the book also included terms related to life and people.

Browse the pictures in the gallery for terms of venery included in The Book of St. Albans that are still in use today, albeit rarely.

cynophilist (sī-näfələ̇st)

Happy Valentine’s Day! We have a new love in our lives and I have been very excited to write this post for many months. In September of 2016, we brought home a 12-week-old Tibetan Spaniel puppy. We named her Coco Cuddles, and she is adorable, sweet, and cuddly.

Tibetan Spaniels are a rather uncommon breed, but we have found that this particular breed suits our family perfectly. Coco is loving, lively, alert, smart, playful, and sometimes mischievous. As their name would suggest, Tibetan Spaniels originated in Tibet. They are a very old breed; they are depicted in Asian art dating back to 1100 BC.

Tibetan Spaniels can be many different colors with various markings, but our Coco is  parti colored, meaning that she is a mix of different colors – she is white with light sable markings. She is almost 8 months old now and weighs 8 pounds. Her adult weight will be between 13 and 15 pounds, so she won’t really gain much more weight.

By now, you’ve probably guessed that the word cynophilist has something to do with dogs! Cynophilist comes from the Greek roots cyn-, meaning dog, and phil-, meaning love so the word means “dog lover.”

Are any of you cynophilists?

To see more pictures of baby Coco, go to Briallu Tibetan Spaniels – Coco’s litter name was Penelope.

psephology (sēˈfäləjē)

Today is a historic day in the United States because a new president will be elected. Psephologists everywhere will be trying to analyze and predict the outcome of this year’s election.

Psephology comes from the Greek roots pseph– meaning pebble, and –logy, meaning study of. Logically, psephology should then be the study of pebbles or perhaps rocks. However, psephology is actually the study of voting and elections.

This may not initially make sense, until you realize that the Ancient Greeks utilized pebbles to vote for public officials. The Greeks would deposit a pebble into an urn to indicate the candidate they wished to elect.

You might also be interested in the derivation of two other words related to elections – candidate and vote. The word candidate comes from the Latin word candidatus, which literally means “clothed in white.” In ancient Rome, a person seeking a public office would wear a toga whitened with chalk. The word candidate came into the English language at the beginning of the 17th century.

The word vote ultimately comes from the Latin word votum, which means a vow or a wish. This could mean that when people cast a vote, they are wishing for a better future and hoping that the candidate that they are voting for will do everything in their power to honor their promises or vows.

Even though I am not old enough to vote, I will be accompanying my parents as they cast their votes today!