1 EAGLETON NOTES: Spelling Bee

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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Spelling Bee


Rainbow today over Bayble Bay, Isle of Lewis

I can spell 'rainbow'. In fact I can spell lots of words pretty well. I should be able to too. Words were my stock in trade. However, I have always had some bêtes noir. Diphthong, diarrhoea and, oddly, muesli spring immediately to mind. I also went for much of my life convinced that 'across' was spelt 'accross'.

At primary school spelling bees were a common way of testing and improving our spelling ability. They were also supposed to be enjoyable and, to be frank, I did enjoy them. So did Joan Rigby. Joan was the brightest person in the school by far (teachers included I rather think). On one occasion she and I were captaining two spelling bee teams. The teams were level pegging until she and I had to face each other. I cannot recall what I was asked to spell but I spelt it correctly. Really at my wits end, and definitely in awe of Joan, I asked her to spell 'bee' as in 'spelling bee'. Much to everyone's astonishment she either couldn't or she miss-spelt it and my team won.

I don't expect YP to have any such problems but I'd love to know what bêtes noir the rest of my readers have: if any.

45 comments:

  1. I think I knew Joan's sister. Now what was her name? Ah yes, Eleanor. She kept her face in a jar by the door. I must admit that I lack many skills but spelling is not one of them. I have always been good at spelling and I am very interested in the psychology of spelling and mis-spelling. My brother Robin who lives in France is dyslexic and struggles with many basic spellings but had other talents that meant he made a good living for himself - firstly in engineering and then in salesmanship and speculation.

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    1. Another Yellow Submarine fan I see, YP. I've known a few very talented people who were/are dyslexic including a partner's daughter. She had difficulty spelling but could produce the answers to fairly complex (for last year primary school) mathematical problems with little idea as to how she had solved the problems. In later life she could keep huge flow charts in her head. The mind is a curious thing.

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  2. I'm a good speller but accommodation always gets me. There are quite a few others but I can't think of them right now.
    Joan Rigby must have been hit by an attack of nerves.

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    1. Kylie I'm sure you are correct about Joan. I cannot do quizzes. Even subjects which I know inside out and questions to which I know the answer I cannot blurt out in the heat of the moment. Yet I'm not nervous in a professional capacity and was quite happy speaking in public or answering questions in public meetings.

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  3. I can't brag about spelling, but I did teach spelling long atfer everybody else quit.

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    1. Red, I find it quite astonishing that people now say that neither spelling nor grammar are important.

      YP, I suspect that Red had a touch of the GBs. I make typos and then check after I've pressed publish. Sometimes, of course, I just don't see the typos. C'est la vie.

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  4. Too many to name I'm afraid. -ery, -ary. -ment, -mant. I'm constantly having to check.

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    1. Cro I have to confess that nowadays some words do occasionally look strange when I'm handwriting (which I do a lot) and I have to look the word up. It saddens me a bit.

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  5. Spilling is not a problem.

    Eye halve a spelling checker
    It came with my pea sea
    It plainly marques for my revue
    Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
    Eye strike a key and type a word
    And weight four it to say
    Weather eye am wrong oar write
    It shows me strait a weigh.
    As soon as a mist ache is maid
    It nose bee fore two long
    And eye can put the error rite
    It's rare lea ever wrong.
    Eye have run this poem threw it
    Eye am shore your pleased two no
    It's letter perfect awl the weigh
    My checker tolled me sew.

    I can't credit it this but suspect it was in the Spectator years ago. Looks more like the Guardian on a good day.

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    1. Adrian that is so good. I really appreciate your Gruniad comment. I've still not forgiven them their editorial slips/sins.

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  6. That piece in Adrian's comment is brilliant!

    I don't have a spelling problem, as far as I'm aware. But I do sometimes mis-type the same words, knowing full well how they are supposed to be written, but my fingers being faster than my mind. One example is the name Siegfried. More often than not, I will type "Seigfreid", only to backspace and correct it immediately. Or take the German word for January - Januar. I often type Janaur, although I know exactly it is wrong but can not stop my fingers quickly enough.

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    1. Meike, I have a typing problem because, although I'm very fast, I'm not a touch-typist. My real weakness is publishing before checking.

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  7. Korect speling has allways bin impordan too mee. I get reely crankie with miself wen I make a misteak.

    I'm of the era...an era of long, long ago...when correct spelling was regarded as being important. As far as I am concerned, it still is.

    There are words I need to check, of course. I'm surrounded by dictionaries, both of the paper kind and the cyber kind, so really there is no excuse for errors...other than when "Spell Check" tries to force me to spell using the US method, or in its evil way changes it for me when I'm not looking!!

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    1. Lee, my greatest annoyance is when I actually do check what I've written on my phone or iPad and as I press send the spillchucker alters it.

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  8. Dash into a rest room, hurry or else accident..... and you should never have a problem spelling diarrhoea again :)

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    1. Fortunately, Fiona. I don't have to spell the word before I reach the rest room. I got round the problem on my laptop by having, in the Apple keyboard preferences, a phonetic version which converts to the correct version.

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  9. I've been challenging myself a lot lately, with attempting to add more languages to my vocabulary... Some of them using pretty much the same words, just spelled differently!

    Writing that, I had to stop for a moment and google "spelled vs spelt"... BE and AE sometimes having different spelling rules does not make things easier for us who have English as 2nd language! It seems that in this case, both verb forms are okay in BE; but in AE, spelled is spelled spelled, not spelt...)

    One of my common hiccups in English is the word vacuum. For some reason, I often want to write 'vaccum'. (Don't really know why, as in Swedish it is spelled vakuum!) Here the spellchecker is being helpful though, telling me what's write and wrong... (ahem)

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    1. Monica, your vaccumm is my accross. I enjoyed the wit and educational nature of your comment. I just wish that I had a proper second language but I comfort myself with the fact that I do have a first one.

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  10. I have the same problem as Meike when typing. From is always form, for instance. It's a kind of typing dyslexia. I type very quickly, but so inaccurately that the time saved is then spent putting it all right again. Otherwise my spelling is okay, I think.

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    1. Frances, I think your problem and Meike's problem seem rather more structures. My errors are totally random.

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  11. I have been a very good speller for my entire life, but one word I always have to think about before writing is commemorate. My first inclination is to exchange the mm and the m.

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    1. That's an interesting one Bob. It's more understandable than my accross.

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  12. I have trouble spelling 'Emperor', because I always think I'm saying 'Emporer' Actually when I think about it I'm saying something more like Em puh ruh.

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    1. Helen that's one I do enunciate properly and I can always spell Parliament because that is how I pronounce it.

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  13. Yes I remember being part of spelling competitions at school, mostly primary school though, these days I'm still a bit of a grammar and spelling nut.

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    1. That's good to hear Amy. There are so few grammar nuts around now. Even I've given up some of my campaigns.

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  14. Necessary always got me until I was told -
    N ever E nter C hurch E ating S picy S ausages A nd R aspberry Y ogurt

    Works for me and I know always recite that under my breath while spelling the word out very carefully!

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    1. Oh dear Robyn. I'd have found it easier to spell the word than remember the acronym.

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  15. "Gunwale"! That was the word that I got in a spelling bee and it was down just to the final two people...me and one other guy. When I got that word, everyone just assumed that I couldn't spell it since I am sure that most of them had never heard of it! When I spelled it correctly and won the spelling bee, my classmates AND teacher were all amazed!
    Our son came in 2nd in the school spelling bee in 5th grade. When I asked him if he felt bad because the other guy had beaten him, he said that no, he had beat him 3 times earlier in practice, he just beat him when it counted. (What a great kid!) C. was able to go to the county spelling bee as an alternate, and get out of school for the day, he was happy!

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    1. Nice story as always Kay. As for gunwale that's not one of my bêtes noir.

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  16. I am always stumped by niece. Or is it neice. No, niece.... Or, do I mean....???????

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    1. Jenny, I try and remember which words don't conform to the 'i before e except after c.' As it happens niece conforms to that rule but I've discovered that the more I try and remember it with a particular word the more confused I get.

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  17. I'm rather pleased to say that the photo at the top of this post make the BBC Scotland weather forecast backdrop.

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  18. The photo is a perfect backdrop for the weather forecast ... happy for you.

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  19. Beautiful photo Graham. I do so love rainbows.

    Spelling was not my forte in school & I hated spelling bees. Thankfully my spelling has improved with age.

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    1. Unfortunately, Lynda, mine has deteriorated. I wonder which is the better of the two scenarios.

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  20. My husband is a traditional sign writer and years ago he sign wrote a bakery van but spelled confectionery “ary”. It went around like that for a long time. I wonder how many times the van driver was told that it was misspelled (misspelt). It’s not easy even when we think we are good at spelling is it.

    I too love your header pic Graham. It deserves a larger audience. Congratulations.

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    1. Beverley, I have just solved the riddle of your missing comment ie this one. It was in Blogger's spam folder and I missed it.

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  21. My earlier comment seems to have gone walk about so I will try again.
    My husband is a traditional sign writer and a good number of years ago he sign wrote a van and he spelled confectionery with “ary” at the end. This van was on the road for a long time and I did wonder if the van driver ever got fed up with people telling him that the spelling was wrong.

    I often see signs with stationary when in fact it should say stationery.

    There you go, the English language is not always easy when it’s your first language.

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  22. I love your header photo too. It is beautiful and deserves a spot on the tv.

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    1. I am sorry for the delay in responding, Beverly. Since our recent correspondence I have found myself back in hospital. I have therefore been out of Blogland for longer than anticipated. Unfortunately trying to write blogs etc on the phone is rather labourious.

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  23. My father was a newspaper man. Oddly, he couldn't spell worth a farthing. He made up for it by being riotously funny, and spelling things wrong on purpose (in personal letters, not in his newspapers) so no one would know which words he just couldn't spell. My mother, on the other hand, was a spelling bee champion from way back.

    This combination of having grown up proofreading for my father's spelling mistakes, and having my mother proofread all my school papers, has made me somewhat formidable in the arena of words. I started reading at a very young age, and my mother encouraged me and was always there to tell me what words meant when I ran across new and exciting ones that I hadn't heard of yet. We didn't have computers, or home entertainment systems, and my television watching was limited to one or two child-appropriate shows a week. My summers were spent reading, reading, reading everything I could get my hands on. The library was a treasure trove to be regularly plundered!

    I am, somewhat to my chagrin, a grammar and spelling "nazi". I find it nearly impossible not to proofread everything I see, from store signs (there's one in my town that proclaims "STATIONARY STORE" - and I agree, it's not going anywhere fast) to newspaper articles, to online posts, to emails sent by managers at my place of employment (which make me shudder to think that they are getting paid so much more than I am and can't write a correct sentence).

    As far as I know, I don't spell anything incorrectly, but I often spell words they way they do in England - which confuses my American friends. Practise instead of practice, flavour instead of flavor, etc. (Even as I type this, my computer is underlining the British spellings with squiggly red lines.)

    There is a freebie word game called "Bookworm" that I play online, and one reason I love it so much is that it accepts British spelling! As my grandmother was born and raised in Surrey, and I have some very dear friends who live across the pond, I feel an affinity for that part of the world. I suppose spelling the way they do over there makes me feel a bit closer to them somehow.

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    1. Thanks for that lovely comment Mrs S. Envelopes and cars is how I remember stationery v stationary. Again apologies for not commenting earlier but I’m in Glasgow and in hospital. Seems to be the story of my life these days.

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