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Word of the hive: Week 4

By Shahnoor Rabbani

So Comilla marked the end of the road as far as the zonal activations go and the end of the line as far as my pronouncing days go (I hope not), at least not until the Divisional Round starts. After Dinajpur, we visited Faridpur, Narayanganj and Comilla for the last three zonal activations and Comilla was most certainly the pick of the lot, however, not for the usual suspects.

I have not been to a zonal activation previously with such determined and emotional kids. There were four instances of a contestant spelling a word incorrectly and breaking down into tears, quite comfortably the most that I have seen happen in front of me.

A class 8 kid that got his word wrong just could not hold back his tears when I told him to play the game online. His response, while sobbing, “I don't have internet at home.” I was not shocked to hear that but I was shocked when I talked with his mother who was adamant that her son was prone to headaches and whatnot when he would watch TV for too long or sit in front of the PC, for that matter. Where have I heard that before again?

Yeah, so this sort of a backward mentality may not be going away any time soon, unfortunately, but it is good to get the importance of internet and technology through to all parts of the country via these zonal activations. At least, the English teachers of the different schools watch proceedings with keen interest and are equally vocal with their opinions. So much so that one of the schoolteachers annoyed me with his remark, “Well, this thing certainly is not fair to our school. None of our students are getting words they know.”

He was not completely wrong with his assessment as it was the second round in the spelling competition and the words are bound to get tougher as the rounds progress. My reply, simply, was for him to tell his students to play the online game and try their luck in it. I mean after all, the point of these activations is to raise awareness of the Spelling Bee and the online game, through which they can participate and qualify to the Divisional Round if they are good enough so I guess the point reached through, one way or the other.

It should be no surprise that there is a lot of luck involved in the competition and the word list may not have been divided perfectly and may never be perfect because people will always have differing opinions but for that reason exactly, the online game becomes that much more important and essential for those interested. Yes, the online game has its share of issues because Google voice is not exactly Siri but the only way is forward from there and I am sure, with time, these issues with the game can be and will be, rectified.

The TV crew can be a real pain in the you-know-what with the retakes and having to phone in the lines “that is correct” and “sorry, that is incorrect” and it is something that I along with the other pronouncers have had to deal with. However, that is the price one has to pay for fame, I guess, or at least for being on TV. In the end, though it is nice to be giving away autographs and getting the praise of that teacher that annoyed me with his remarks when he complimented me on my pronunciation. I told his students to try their hand at writing and getting their write up for this page, if it is good enough of course, so I guess it was a happy ending here.

Spell Check

"When two vowels go
walking, the first one
does the talking?

Simply put, when there are two vowels in a row, the first usually has a long sound and the second is silent. That's why it's team, not taem; coat, not caot; and wait, not wiat. This rule will helps you to put vowels in the right order.

But as history shows, someone or other is always rebelling against the English. So there are always exception like said, leather and guest. But usually, this is a useful rule to keep in mind.

"If a word ends with an ‘ick’ sound,
spell it ‘ick’ if it has one syllable
& ‘ic’ if it has two or more syllables.

With words like tricks and stick, the spelling is always ick. But increase the number of syllables and to make room the k leaves. So you can panic and be sarcastic when someone picks on you.

Exceptions are few in this rule, seasick and candlestick are the most common.

Bite-size HAHA

Police arrested two kids yesterday, one was drinking battery acid, the other was eating fireworks. They charged one - and let the other one off.

Word of the day


Meaning: A temperature scale by which almost nothing is measured these days but people in interview board insist you tell them the day's temperature in it.

Why it's tricky to spell: See that first h, well people, and by that I mean way too many people tend to miss that. Also being hot-headed in general, some tend to change the spelling of heit to hate.


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