WASHINGTON - In 1981, the word was sarcophagus. And with that, Paige Kimble became the Scripps National Spelling Bee champion.
Today, 31 years later, she is the director and she knows it takes more than memorization to advance to Thursday’s championship finals.
“When you stand on stage, you're going to be asked literally anything, and you have to be prepared,” says Kimble. One thing she says all the contestants have in common each year is that they are great readers.
Another key to success is learning language patterns and word roots.
“Understanding patterns of spelling in Hindu, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, etc. I could go on and on and on... helps you to figure out that spelling when you're on that national stage”
Although Kimble says often the toughest words are only one syllable words with only four or five letters, in the last few years some of the championship words seem to be a kind of alphabet soup.
Take a look at the word evolution through some of the previous years:
1925 - GLADIOLUS
1932 - KNACK
1948 - PSYCHIATRY
1959 - CATAMARAN
1964 - SYCOPHANT
1970 - CROISSANT
1984 - LUGE
1998 - CHIAROSCURIST
2005 - APPOGGIATURA
2011 - CYMOTRICHOUS
“Sometimes they are a bit more difficult than you saw 10, 20, 30 years ago,” says Kimble. “There are more and more kids who are really putting out good efforts toward qualifying for the Bee and being in those final rounds
There is no review of old word lists according to Kimble. If a challenging word from previous years winds up back in this year's championship round, it's just happenstance.
“It's merely coincidence. Great spelling bee words are great spelling words, no matter the year.”
The contest is sponsored by the E.W. Scripps Company, the parent company of 41 Action News.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Scripps Spelling Bee
School enrollment has opened for the Scripps National Spelling Bee and will be open until October 15. The national bee is next May.
For Arvind Mahankali, 13, of Bayside Hills, N.Y., third time was the, well, periapt. That’s charm to most people. After finishing third two years in a row, Arvind, an eighth-grader, came back strong to win the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday night.
See photos of Vanya Shivashankar, from Olathe, after she made the finals of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Olathe sixth grader Vanya Shivashankar finished the Scripps National Spelling Bee tied for 5th place.
Vanya Shivashankar was announced Wednesday as a semi-finalist for the Scripps Spelling Bee.
Spellers began to be eliminated Wednesday in onstage rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Here’s a look at how the students from Kansas and Missouri fared in the second and third round of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee is under way, with 281 youngsters taking the first vocabulary test in the history of the competition.
It’s known that kids can say some unexpected things. Thanks to video they can do some crazy things too. We get to watch it over and over.
Sometimes you have to laugh during the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
To spice up the Spelling Bee, a comedian has joined to help pen the humor to the paper.
This year 281 spellers will compete from the 50 U.S. states and surrounding territories in the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
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Not only will Bee competitors be tested on spelling, but they’ll also be tested on vocabulary in changes announced Tuesday.
With the Scripps National Spelling Bee coming up May 28-30, dare we ask: Does anybody really need to learn to spell in an age of spell-check, auto-correcting cell phones and text-messaging abbreviations?