1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 68 Articles

Lead is the name of a metallic element. Pronounced a different way, it's a verb meaning to take someone somewhere. But the past tense of the verb, led, sounds like the name of the metallic element. Confusing enough? Let Julia Rubiner clear up the situation, with a little help from rock legends Led Zeppelin.  Continue reading...
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In the 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee, the words were as diabolical as ever, but Snigdha Nandipati of San Diego, California took it all in stride. When it came time to spell the final word, guetapens, a French-derived word for "an ambush, snare, or trap," she wasn't snared by its strangeness and calmly spelled it correctly.  Continue reading...
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The 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee kicked off yesterday, with 278 spellers getting whittled down to 50 semifinalists who will compete in the nationally televised action on Thursday. A precocious six-year-old didn't make the cut, but an old friend of ours, Nicholas Rushlow of Pickerington, Ohio, will be back in the thick of it for his fifth consecutive year.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

The 2012 Spelling Bee is Here!

It's time once again for the Scripps National Spelling Bee! The preliminaries are today, and the nationally televised semifinals and finals are tomorrow (May 31). Visual Thesaurus editor Ben Zimmer will be live-tweeting the competition tomorrow on the VT Twitter feed and reporting on the results here in his Word Routes column. In the meantime, read Ben's observations on tricky spelling here and here, and try the super-addictive Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee!
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A recent article in Wired by Anne Trubek argues that the advent of the fully digital age will — and should — have as great an influence on English spelling as the age of print did, more than half a millennium ago. The author, a professor at Oberlin College, argues that our current obsession with correct spelling is out of keeping with the digital age: "Consistent spelling was a great way to ensure clarity in the print era. But with new technologies, the way that we write and read (and search and data-mine) is changing, and so must spelling." Must it?  Continue reading...
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For The Electric Company, Tom Lehrer wrote a song to which all writers should listen:

Who can turn a can into a cane? / Who can turn a pan into a pane? / It's not too hard to see / It's silent e
 Continue reading...
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Some years ago the Portuguese government signed an agreement with other Portuguese speaking countries about the way the language was to be written, and the slow process of making it happen started to be rolled out. I was quite amused recently to learn of the number of students of English in Portuguese schools who thought that the novo acordo ortográfico -- the new spelling agreement -- applied also to English.   Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 68 Articles