Spelling: When wordsmiths go to war

  • @willydean

"P.T.E.R.O.D.A.C.T.Y.L?" Even as someone who gets paid to write words, that one nearly stung me. The spelling bee, the US educational staple made famous by 2002 documentary, Spellbound, is now available to test British wordsmiths' spelling abilities.

Oxford Dictionaries' website offers three levels of skill and gives you 15 words to get right, lest you feel outdone by an eight-year-old American kid.

Obviously, news of the existence of such a thing excited the staff of a newspaper, so we sat some of The Independent's most cunning linguists down to take the bee. A rigorous face-off between the leading spellers of the sub-editors' desk, production and the features team led to furrowed brows and fevered competition. And the word Hawaiian being spelt "Hawaaiin" by one sub-editor (we'll blame it on the big-match pressure).

Our winner, with a magnificent 15/15, was features man John Walsh, who proved beyond doubt that he knows his onomatopoeia from his onomatapea.