Winners, l to r: Abhijay Kodali, Sohum Sukhatankar, Saketh Sundar, Rishik Gandhasri, Shruthika Padhy, Christopher Serrao, Erin Howard, and Rohan Raja
Last night the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee came to a close just after midnight with a historic eight-way tie.
“A superhuman group of adolescents broke the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday, with eight contestants crowned co-champions after the competition said it was running out of challenging words. … It was a stunning result…for the 92nd annual event, which has had six two-way ties but had never before experienced such a logjam at the top. After the 17th round, Jacques Bailly, the event’s pronouncer, announced that any of the eight remaining contestants who made it through three more words would share in the prize.” The New York Times has the story.
The 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee had 565 contestants and was won by eight co-champions who had lasted through 20 rounds.
We’re going to focus on just two news stories this past week, both of which gave us a lesson in English vocabulary that we really didn’t need. We were introduced, respectively, to a vulgar slang word and an old derogatory term for unmarried women. The first lesson was taught to us by a Right Honourable former Member of Parliament – who has served, incidentally, as Mayor of London and Foreign Secretary, and who (I believe) still has his eye on the Big Job in Britain – during a radio interview. The other was given to us in a very dubious tweet — but not (somewhat surprisingly) from the great orange Tweeter himself. …
François Clouet: Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87) / Wikimedia Commons
At the end of her recent (and fabulously entertaining) New Yorker piece about Mary Queen of Scots the movie, Mary Norris throws in a little punctuation lesson about the comma (or lack of it) in the Scottish queen’s name. “Mary Queen of Scots – both the regal title and the movie title – takes no comma,” argues Norris. “There is more than one Mary; the title is restrictive. She is Mary the Queen – you know, like Cedric the Entertainer or Chance the Rapper. Off with the comma!”
Recent stories in the news about words, grammar, and language — with an emphasis this month on grammar, and a couple of politicians getting themselves into hot water with their words … Continue reading →
In the news this past week: a grammar guru solves the world’s grammar problems on the streets of New York City; Jonathan Franzen gets Twitter’s knickers in a twist with his rules for aspiring writers; how Calvin Harris has managed to keep his accent; and Glosso is listed among 5 best blogs for language learning … Continue reading →
Collins Dictionary has selected its Word of the Year 2018. As the inhabitants of Planet Earth become ever more concerned about the environment and its alarming demise, so the words we use to describe all aspects of it — from victims to culprits, scourges to solutions — rise in frequency and everyday usage. Collins has chosen as 2018’s top dog a common adjective that labels items — mostly made of plastic — which are made to be used once, which are poorly recyclable, and which have a significant negative impact on the environment. Can you guess what the word is? Continue reading →