Marchers Descend on Spelling Bee
Ok, maybe they're not descending. But there are at least four or five folks holding signs and wearing pins and handing out brochures outside the Spelling Bee. I was convinced that they were protesters, and told ESPN's Erin Andrews--whom Postie Steve Yanda and I interviewed at lunch--that Spelling Bee protesters were a way bigger story than any interview with Erin Andrews.
Sadly, they weren't really protesting.
"We love the Spelling Bee," said Joe Little from New York, one of the marchers. "We're leveraging it. It's a good opportunity to talk about how crazy English language spelling is, how dysfunctional, how funky. You know, bat cat and sat are cool, but when you get to plaid, it starts to unravel, and then you start to call into question the whole thing."
See, they were part of an effort from the American Literacy Council and the London-based Spelling society to enable more people to read, write and spell well by modernizing the whole spelling thing. Laff instead of laugh, and so on. They want a government agency to take this on, to turn English spelling into something that makes sense. They list Lord Tennyson, Charles Darwin, Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin as supporters. They wear buttons that say things like "Enuf is enuf; Enough is too much; and "I'm thru with through."
And they say many of the Spelling Bee kids were intrigued as well. But, in a spell-by-the-numbers world, what happens to the Bee?
"We've got the Geography Bee," Little said. "You can still do the far flung margins of English, like the words these kids are doing inside."
"Nobody uses them, so it doesn't matter how they're spelled," added Joseph Huang of Rockville.
"The French have grammar bees," chimed in Timothy Travis of King George. "But, in fact, other countries don't have spelling bees, other cultures, other languages."
"There's always things you can memorize and concentrate on," Little concluded. "It doesn't have to be spelling."
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