In the grueling finale of the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee
, 13-year-old Kavya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas emerged as the winner, beating out 10 other frighteningly good spellers. This was her fourth consecutive appearance in the finals of the Bee, and over the years she has gradually crept up to the top spot, moving from 10th to 8th to 4th to 1st place. She was inspired by Nupur Lala, winner of the 1999 competition (and one of the stars of the wonderful documentary Spellbound
), and now she joins Nupur in the pantheon of great spellers. Congratulations, Kavya!
The preliminary rounds of the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee
are over! After a computerized test and two rounds of spelling on stage, 41 of the original 243 contestants have made it to the semifinal round. And even in these early rounds, the spellers encountered some tremendously difficult words.
As in past months
, we've asked writer and educator Bob Greenman to pick some piquant words from More Words That Make a Difference
, a delightful book illustrating word usage with passages from the Atlantic Monthly
. Here Bob focuses on a "cousins club" of words that eviscerate the empty verbiage of others. Rest assured that Bob provides us with neither blather nor piffle.
McDonald's has launched an ambitious marketing campaign for its new coffee line, McCafé. In one commercial currently saturating American airwaves, viewers are advised that you can "McCafé your day" by enlivening your daily grind. The ad extends the acute accent mark at the end of "McCafé" to various other words: a "commute" becomes a "commuté," a "cubicle" becomes a "cubiclé," and so forth. Will this wordplay work with American consumers, or will the exotic diacritics fall on deaf ears?
How do you pluralize the word "thesaurus"? Both "thesauruses" and "thesauri" are perfectly acceptable. But would you believe "thesaurusi"? It's rare, but it's out there. Brett Reynolds, professor of English at Humber College, investigates the pluralization error on his blog English, Jack
Sometimes our perspective on language isn't exactly rational: we love some words and absolutely despise other ones. What inspires such deep feelings, and why does word hate often seem to run hotter than word love? In the case of words like impactful
, discussed in yesterday's Red Pen Diaries
, the bad vibes may arise because of an association with vacuous management-speak or other institutional jargon. But other times a word is disliked because it just sounds, well, icky. A look at some of the favorite and least favorite words selected by Visual Thesaurus subscribers offers some insight on verbal attractions and aversions.