July 09, 2011
Sure, eighth grader Sukanya Roy won the 2011 National Spelling Bee a months ago with "cymotrichous.” But could she whip off kanindeyuense", “Tenochtitlán” or “otorrinolaringologo"?
These are among the list of words that may be used in New Mexico on Saturday, as the National Hispanic Cultural Center hosts the first ever national Spanish Spelling Bee.
“We’re celebrating the multilingualism of America,” said Daniel Ward, editor of Language Magazine, one of the event’s sponsors, in a statement. “We’re recognizing that, like most of the world’s other children, [our kids will] need more than one language to succeed in our global village.”
By the numbers, Latinos would seem to have a leg up in this challenge: According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 33 percent of Latino households speak English and Spanish equally, and 17 percent are majority Spanish-language.
The inaugural bee is being organized by the Alliance for Multilingual Multicultural Education (AMME) and the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education (NMABE), and is modeled on the latter’s 15-year-old annual state Spanish Spelling Bee: Participants will be asked to spell out loud words randomly chosen from a list that had been provided to them beforehand.
From a linguistics standpoint, there’s been some snarking that the Spanish bee might be easier than the English one, since Spanish orthography is in general considered simpler. “In Spanish, every letter has a unique associated phoneme, so with very few exceptions, words are written exactly as they sound,” wrote the BBC.
The 86-year-old English-language bee has become a cultural phenomenon, inspiring documentaries, books and international attention. This year, the battle between 275 kids from all 50 states and sundry countries was televised live during primetime.
The Spanish-language bee will begin more modestly, with about 11 participants, grades four through eight, from five states. It is the culmination of state Spanish spelling competitions held earlier this year.
The competition begins at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Source: Latino Fox News