Wednesday, April 07, 2010

So You Think You Can Spell?

511achizkel_sl500_aa300_.jpgThe book So You Think You Can Spell? came out last October, and we here at the Williamsburg Spelling Bee were gifted a few copies which we, in turn, gifted to that season's spelling winners.

It might be difficult to imagine just how to practice your spelling from a book. For instance, the (children's) book How to Spell Like a Champ is accompanied by a CD, and I, on my Spelling Word of the Day blog, post my content as audio files, so you can spell the word for yourself before clicking to read the answer.

However, I cracked the book open to a random page and the first thing I saw was a quiz question challenging me to pluralize "auto-da-fé," and I said, goddamn, dog, you've figured something out here.

Much of the book is in the form of quizzes in which, for instance, the authors have provided a phonetic pronunciation (muh-KAK) and a definition (short-tailed Asian monkey), and your job is to write "macaque." Some quizzes provide several possible spellings, challenging you to circle the correct one. What I'm trying to say is: this book is really actually quite challenging and worthwhile, even for people who already host or attend adult spelling bees in bars.

Of course, I couldn't finish off this post without including a link to NPR's February 26th Cityscape show, in which two spellers from the Williamsburg Spelling Bee were quizzed by So You Think You Can Spell? authors David L. Grambs and Ellen S. Levine.

And finally: So You Think You Can Spell? now has its own website, where the authors wrote of the Williamsburg bee:

This is not one of those rowdy saloon bees, and there are more than a few around, that value lubrication and lubricity more than lucubration and literacy from the competing performers.

Spelling for adults is kind of a small world.

Cross-posted from

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