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The Boston Globe


The Word

At this year’s spelling bee, make way for meaning

Why is spelling showbiz while vocabulary is homework?

The rules of the Scripps National Spelling Bee rarely make waves in the media. But earlier this month, they did exactly that, when it was announced that the national competition at the end of May will, for the first time, involve questions about not just the spellings of words, but also their definitions.

Vanya Shivashankar, a favorite this year (she came in 10th last year, and her sister Kavya won in 2009), told the Associated Press that top spellers on an e-mail group “were really, like, shocked, and they were surprised about the change that’s happened.” Her father, Mirle, also called the rule change “a shocker.”

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