The 89th Scripps National Spelling Bee is airing on ESPN-2 right now, until 2 PM EST. The finals will be broadcast tonight (Thursday) at 8 PM EST.
One thing I've noticed is how "frisky" the judges have gotten when a contestant asks, "Could you use it in a sentence, please?" One of the words was "tibourbou" and the sentence the judge used was, "When a tibourbou falls in the forest, no one hears it, unless the NSA is listening -- and the NSA is always listening."
(For those curious, tibourbou is a tree native to Brazil and Costa Rica, and is an alternative fiber crop to make paper.)
Another word was "salele," (sah-lay-lee) and when asked for a sentence, the contestant got back, "Jake told Caroline all about the salele he caught on his fishing trip to Oahu -- and Caroline told Jake that he needed to get more interesting stories."
(It's a small dusky silver or silvery bronze percoid fish from tropical Indo-Pacific area, when you next bring it up.)
Then there was "tyee." Another fish, as it turns out -- a large kind of salmon. The sentence given was, "There were times when the tyee thought this whole 'swimming upstream' thing didn't make much sense."
By the way, as I was typing this, one of the words presented was "colporteur." My eyes were focused on the computer, so I only heard it spoken, and didn't see the word spelled on the screen. My immediate thought was..."Cole Porter??? Cool, I got one. But...really??" Obviously, no. Oddly, the definition is sort of literary, as well. It's a peddler of books, newspapers, and similar literature. (The secondary description is "someone employed by a religious society to distribute Bibles and other religious tracts.").
Yes, Cole Porter would have been an unlikely word. But this is the National Spelling Bee, so Anything Goes...
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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