Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Can You Spell P-R-O-N-U-N-C-I-A-T-I-O-N ?

Just a smidgen of bragging here. My kids are great spellers. They really are. I have been blessed that they learned to read with ease and they spell fairly well. Though I read to them a lot as babies and toddlers, once they got to school, they were sort of on their own in the reading department. They all enjoy writing too, so I guess they just learn words as they go.

Soon it was that time again; time for the Spelling Bee. Our little-bitty local newspaper sponsors the district spelling bee each year, and then sends the winner on to the state bee, and finally the nationals. PrettyPrettyPrincess and LittleDuckling attend 2 different elementary schools, but they are both in the same district. First each grade takes the top 3 from each class who then competes in the school bee. The top three from each school then compete in a district-regional bee. In our district we have 2 regions; the "north end" and the "south end". Anyway, both kids were among the top three in their class. Both kids went on to the school bee. I was of course, proud. But there was one problem. The Announcer.

Now, you would think that the person hand selected to be the official "word announcer" would know something about words. Also, you would want to have someone who had the same accent as the general population of your particular Spelling Bee. Case in point... A girl came home one day in tears because she had a spelling word marked wrong on her paper. She showed it to her daddy. He was puzzled. She had clearly spelled the word "F-L-O-W" correctly. He went to the school. He questioned the teacher, who in her deep Southern Drawl explained that the word wasn't flow, but rather flow. The father looked puzzled. The teacher explained further, like when you take a broom and sweep the flow... which of course was really FLOOR, but just sounded like FLOW because of her accent! Anyway, I digress.

So, like I said, you would think that the PRONOUNCER of the WORDS would actually be able to correctly pronounce words. I was wrongly disappointed. PrettyPrettyPrincess didn't make it on to the South End bee and here's why:

What the announcer pronounced: Daf-a-deel
PrettyPrettyPrincess: Can you please repeat the word?
Announcer: Daf-a-deel.
PrettyPrettyPrincess: (with a confused look) D-A-F-F-O-D-E-A-L.

Needless to say she was out.
LittleDuckling came out as a finalist of his school spelling bee, and went on to the South-End Bee a month later. Before the bee started, the head judge announced that only PARENTS or TEACHERS of an individual student would be allowed to approach the judge's table to appeal or dispute a word given to their child.

Numbers were assigned randomly. LittleDuckling was #80 out of 84. So, you guessed it.
It was gonna be a while before it was his turn. Again, there was a problem with the announcer. Here are a few MIS-Pronunciations that assisted other kids in getting "out".

What the Announcer pronounced: Vie-Brah-Toh
Kid with glasses: (confused look) Can you please repeat the word?
Announcer: Vie-Brah-Toh
Kid with glasses: V-Y-B-R-A-T-O
eeeh! wrong! When I heard the pronunciation, I knew she had to be wrong. No one pronounces it like that. I even looked it up on Dictionary.com via my Blackberry right then and there to see if it was an alternate pronunciation. Nope. There wasn't. The dictionary clearly indicates vi-brah-toh as the correct way to say it. Short "i" lady, not long "i". Ugh!
A few kids later...

What the Announcer pronounced: Neer-Vah-Nuh
Girl in red dress: Can you please repeat the word?
Announcer: Neer-Vah-Nuh
Girl in red dress: Can you please use it in a sentence?
Announcer: Neer-Vah-Nah. When the lost ship finally returned to shore, a feeling of Neer-Vah-Nuh had come over its passengers. Neer-Vah-Nuh.
[ya, that didn't help her.]
Girl in red dress: N-E-A-R-V-A-N-A
Again, I snatched up my Blackberry and was Dictionary.com-ming that word to see if there was an alternate, acceptable pronunciation. Nope. It was clearly supposed to be pronounced nir-vah-nuh.

Finally it was LittleDuckling's turn. Now, mind you, this is round ONE, which is supposed to be the EASY ROUND, taking words from their PRACTICE LIST that they've been studying for weeks!

What the Announcer said: Heel-Haw
LittleDuckling: [whipping he head in her direction, as if to say, "Come again?"] Can you please repeat the word?
Announcer: Heel-Haw
LittleDuckling: Can you please repeat the word again?
Announcer: Heel-Haw
LittleDuckling: [proceeding with caution while maintaining a deer-in-the-headlights look] Heel-haw??? [lady nods]. Heel-Haw. H-E-A-L-H-A-W.
Eeh! Wrong!

I sort of sit up and whisper, out loud, what was the word? The woman in front of me turns and says, "I think it was supposed to be KEELHAUL, but the "k" was barely audible".

Keelhaul? What the freak is that? And that's on the "EASY" list??? You guessed it, I was dictionary.com-ming that one too. Here's what I found...

keelhaul  [keel-hawl]
–verb (used with object) 1. Nautical. to haul (an offender) under the bottom of a ship and up on the other side as a punishment.
2. to rebuke severely.

I mean, sure it's a word all right. But it shouldn't have been on the easy list no more than Nirvana should have been. Tell me, when's the last time you used either in a sentence? Speaking of which, I would have loved to hear her use that one in a sentence. What would she have said?
The captain needed to keelhaul the deck-hand when he wouldn't follow orders? Ya... I don't think so.

After the end of that round, LittleDuckling approached me in the audience. I thought for sure he'd be crying. I thought he would be upset. I smiled and gave him a high-five.

He says, "I couldn't understand the word." I reply, "I know. That was weird, huh? You want me to go appeal to the judges so you can go to the next round?" He asks, "Umm...what time is it?" To which I respond, "8:15 pm". He pauses for a brief moment before saying, "I'm missing my show."

That's my boy! Bless his Little ADHD Heart...


Anonymous said...

No way. I would have freaked and gone up there to read the words myself!

Dianne said...

I don't see the problem. That's the way I say the words. Of course, I am from Arkansas. Now, you people in other parts of the country talk with an accent that's hard to understnd....

Cindy said...

In both cases, the teacher should have stood up in protest immediately!

pinkelephant said...

Oh... your little boy is growing up! I guess it's been a few years since I saw you guys last??
Well, I wonder what they would have said if you had protested. I didn't know it runs so late though. Did you see any parents going up at all?

okeydokeyifine said...

Can you spell I-D-I-O-T? Use it in a sentence: The idiot reading the words should have been replaced.

I think this should be addressed to the head of the Bee. Go get'em girl.

Even the news commentators are instructed to have more of a midwest accent in the news. A few don't but most do.

Kaye Butler said...

I'm from the south too, I'm sure no one would understand my country bumpkin sounding self.

purplehaze said...

Easy list? I would hate to see what the hard list had. I had to laugh with nursemom's comment!! I think she was right on!!

Susie said...

Yeah...that's disappointing!

Paige said...

Same thing happened to me in 1983 or 1984. It was the word Hone, but he pronounced it HOLN. Which is not a word.

I got second place in the district over that shit

Clearly I am not over it

RhondaLue said...

Um that dude is a reject. YOU should have been the announcer!!!

Of course it's no suprise that EMMA'S children are good at spelling and writing. I mean...they totally got your DNA, lucky lil things!

And congrats to the both of them for going as far as they did!!

Ruthykins said...

i absolutely think that you should talk to the teachers or something. they should redo the whole bee with someone who can pronounce words in your local accent. maybe you could even get something in the news. isn't there some guy in your area that does stories like that. i bet he could get a do-over bee.

Tulsi said...

I hate when people don't say a word correctly. It drives me crazy. you'd think that a spelling bee person would be perfect.

kanaboke said...

and bless his handsome little face, your kids are so good looking it "ain't" even funny..is "ain't" a word? Will you blackberry that for me?

Megan said...

What the heck? Yeah, I'd be looking at her like she had two heads, too!