National Spelling Bee Kicks Off With Unusual Twist
Up first: first-ever vocab test
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 28, 2013 9:36 AM CDT
In this May 29, 2012 file photo, contestants in the National Spelling Bee take the written exam on computers in Oxon Hill, Md., before the oral competition began.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

(Newser) – Simply knowing how to spell words won't be enough to win the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee; for once, competitors will actually have to know what some words mean, too. The event kicked off today, with, for the first time in its history, a vocabulary test. Some 281 spellers arrived this morning to take a 45-minute computer test that probes their knowledge of both spelling and definitions. The results will be combined with tomorrow's on-stage round to determine which spellers will advance to the semifinals.

Organizers announced the addition of the vocabulary test last month, saying it reinforces the bee's mission to encourage students to improve their spelling and broaden their knowledge of the English language. Spellers have mostly supported the change, though some say they wish they had learned about it sooner. The finals take place Thursday night, with the winner taking home more than $30,000 in cash and prizes.

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May 28, 2013 3:06 PM CDT
It has always been a "Spelling Bee", not a dictionary test. I have always admired people that can use the correct pronunciation of a word and usually spell it correctly. There can be no doubt if a contestant spells the word correctly or not, either they did or they did not. Now there is some judge that will determine if the definition of the word is correct, partially correct, close enough to correct, or is correct in the diction of some regions of our country, etcetera, etcetera - - - - -. To me this is simply a group that revels in "See, see me I am altering the traditional spelling bee for the betterment of the world". The spelling bee has always been clean, clear competition. Now it is only fair to identify which dictionary, of the many that are out there, will be the "Official Dictionary Of The Spelling/Definition Bee".
May 28, 2013 10:50 AM CDT
This is a trappistry. Or a traversty. I'm not sure which.
May 28, 2013 10:01 AM CDT
Change the rules of a SPELLING contest? Pure nonsense and a very bad, unfair idea. Time to change the name to Orthography and Word Meaning Contest.