This past week has been Bee Week, as the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee buzzed its final rounds. (Of course, the term “bee” has nothing to do with the insect even if the logo of the National Spelling Bee prominently features one, but rather is an old and somewhat obscure term referring to a communal gathering. Can’t resist the occasional bee pun here, though). And the 2012 winner is… Snigdha Nandipati, from San Diego, who successfully tackled such words as “luteovirescent” or “saccharolytic” that I’m not even sure I have typed correctly. Her winning word was “guetapens.” Congratulations to her and the other finalists! BTW, here’s an interesting blog post on why Indian Americans are so successful at spelling bees.
While spelling bees had been held in many communities since well before 1825, when the term “spelling bee” first appeared in print, 1925 saw the first national spelling bee, which one Frank Neuhauser, 11 years old at the time, won over eight other finalists by correctly spelling “gladiolus.” For his orthographic wizardry, he was awarded $ 500 in gold, a bicycle, and (best of all, from my vantage point) a trip to the White House to meet president Calvin Coolidge, along with the other finalists.