Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spelling Bee

Only in France? Yes probably... During the past months about 5000 7th grade pupils throughout France took part in a huge spelling bee competition. The final was broadcast yesterday evening on national television ! I'm sure it was a huge success as, for the French, getting the right spelling is like a national sport! Before, adults would even take part in it... Why? Because we suffer so much with our grammar rules and weird spelling that once we sort of master them, it becomes like a game...


  1. Well, that is better than a lot of the mindless reality television we have here in the U.S. I'm curious to know what the winning word was and what it means.

  2. We have something similar in the United States. It's the Scripps National Spelling Bee and it is televised on the premier sports TV network (ESPN). In fact, it just recently concluded less than two weeks ago and this year's winner was a young woman. Here is the link:


    The winning word here in the U.S. was cymotrichous.

  3. oops, thought I was coming in after Monnica.

  4. this is what I live for...such an insight into your culture.

    I wish I could spell but it has gotten worse with age. Hooray for spell check!

  5. I was going to say what Marcia said—the U.S. National Spelling Bee has become a very big deal. Would love to see the French version! So, are you good at spelling, Eric? :~}

  6. @Alexa. Er... Compared to what I can see in a lot of emails I receive yes, but I must say I have trouble with double consonants. Besides there are weird rules in French: for example we spell "imbecile" with one "l" and "imbellité" with two.

    Why, on earth?!

  7. I waz allwayz god at speling, dat iz wy I bicame a Inglish ticher...fur ower 10 yers....:-)

  8. Eric,
    Can you please explain to a French native speaker as I am, what means "imbellité"? lol ;) Maybe "imbecillité"? with "ci" in it plus the double l!
    I like when you make me laugh early in the day :)
    Notice that "imbellité" could mean something (like the contrary of "bellité"!)! ok I'm kidding because I love what I read... as you can imagine!
    Have a nice day.

  9. Eric, do you mean we should simplify our rules?

  10. @A. LOL! Bon cette fois c'est moi l'imbecile ! So yes, I meant imbécillité of course ;-) Although like you say "imbellité" would be a nice French word... I can imagine something like:

    "Imbellité, nom féminin, du latin imbellitius. Qui a l'impossibilité d'être beau".

    Exemple: Même après un relooking extrême, il n'y a rien à faire ; cette personne est frappée d'imbellité"

  11. Bravo ! I love this discussion about "imbellité" !
    To get back to the subject of the day, I'm not sure what to think about this program : where is the consistency in broadcasting such "orthograph championships" when dictations are forbidden in school for the reason that it might traumatise children ?
    Voilà, c'était le 1/4 d'heure "vieux con" de Nasty GG ! ;o)

  12. Wahoo! finalement je préfère que le mot n'existe pas ;)lol

  13. @Nasty GG. Spelling bees are banned from school?? Are you kidding?

  14. The thing that gets me in trouble in French is that parlez, parlait, parlaient, parler, parlé, all sound the same! And the sentence would not make sense if you put the wrong one in.

  15. Martin -- LOL

    I have always enjoyed a good spelling bee, probably because spelling comes easily to me, especially if I've seen the word before. But a French spelling bee?? Quelle Horror! (I think I spelled that right... :) Yay!)

  16. Nasty GG, Eric, I recently met the director of an engineer school who decided a few years ago to "give" one "dictée" (spelling bee?) a week, compulsory, all year long, to ALL his students, because he was terrified by their poor level in French...

  17. Mary- your, ewer, you're write, rite, right.
    There, their, they're called homophones

    What fun,
    He thought that though I had a cough,
    I was well enough to see it through
    and fit enough to climb the bough.

    Then some seeds I had to sow,
    were eaten by an old fat sow.
    So I shot the sow with my trusty bow
    and after all this I'll take a bow.

    If spelling be a spelling bee,
    what about the extra 'e'?

    For a short spell,
    you've cast your spell,
    and now you all can go to.........Spell?

    You thought French was difficult?

  18. R U C rius? I no how 2 spel on my tel no prob!

  19. Great tournament because young boys and girls that use sms and Internet destroy the language.



    Barcelona Daily Photo

  20. Hilarious, Michael!

    And Eric, there is a reason I was a mediocre French scholar in middle school: I can't even spell well in my native tongue. . .and considering how many words in English are of French derivation perhaps I can safely say it is all your (the French guardians of language, that is) fault! ;^).

  21. I really love people having fun with spelling, homophones, homonyms, and other aspects of language. How often do we think of these things? It's a great way to stimulate the brain. I wish there were more spelling bees on tv than reality shows. More education, less stultification!

  22. In other words, I support what Monnica of LA said.

  23. @Kim LOL. Actually it's the Romans' fault, not ours... ;-)

    @Jeff " I wish there were more spelling bees on tv than reality shows!" Yeah, right. Pigs will fly... (Les poules auront des dents !)

  24. I shouldn't, but I'll take Valery's comment as a compliment to my young age! LOL

  25. "dictations are forbidden in school for the reason that it might traumatise children ?"

    Are they, really?!!! Wow!!!

  26. I understood that the French loved dictées (dictation in English) which is different to a spelling bee. I also believed that they were part of the French child's education. There are plenty of them available on the internet. You could start looking here

    I watched Le Tournoi d'ortographe also on the internet and it was super. Thanks for drawing our attention to it Eric!

    Motus is a great word game that is available again on the net which comes from France 2.