Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
What Happens to Spelling Bee Champions When They Grow Old? (melmagazine.com)
68 points by paulpauper 2 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 130 comments

The answer to the question the headline poses, inferring from people sampled in the article is: "They mostly end up in a English related academic position in school or college setting"

There was a Doctor, a Bio-statistician, an attorney, and a radio reporter. There were 2 English related academics in the article (and one professor of Classics with a Ph.D. in Ancient Philosophy), so that's definitely overrepresented, but it was more diverse than I would have expected.

It's unfortunate the article headline is the question but there is no real conclusion drawn in the article. It's just bunch of interviews with past winners. It's apparent that Bee winners have unsurprisingly great memory capacity, ability to fast search their memory and build much finer predictor model of data they consume. So they excel at professions that requires these attributes which are pretty much all science/tech/literature/law professions.

However, one might argue the non English ones require lots of memorization.

Thank you, somehow the article is unskimmable and I didn't follow a single story to the end.

It's corporate click-bait from Dollar Shave Club. Not sure why this is on the front page of HN. Sign of the times I suppose?

I thought you were kidding and then I read their bio. What an interesting choice for a startup shaving company. I'm surprised Unilever hasn't axed it by now after they made the acquisition.

It sounds like a good "old fashioned" brand - they have a few of those.

As you can see from the winning words 30–50+ years ago, the Bee used to be a vocabulary contest among average people. Today it’s a test of who can commit to memorizing essentially the entire dictionary. You’re going to see a lot more high-performing doctors, lawyers, etc. in the future compared to older winners.

> Today it’s a test of who can commit to memorizing essentially the entire dictionary. You’re going to see a lot more high-performing doctors, lawyers, etc. in the future compared to older winners.

Why would the latter follow the former? What does memorizing the words in an entire dictionary (not even the meanings, just the spelling of the words themselves) have to do with being a high-performing doctor, lawyer, etc.?

It may well be that the hyper-focus on rote memorization that the bee is known for now will lead to reduced outcomes. Rote memorization just isn't that important of a skill in modern society.

They are memorizing (most of) the meanings as well as the roots, patterns in the languages of origins, etc. Why else do you think they always ask the pronouncer for the definition?

Commitment to a years-long slog of seemingly endless and pointless repetition and stressful competition? If that doesn’t scream doctor/lawyer I don’t know what does.

I don't think they would start allowing the use of professional jargon as spelling words, such as pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. But I may be mistaken.

That word would be of no challenge to the current top spellers. There was an 8-way tie for victory this year because the best kids are all but unstumpable. You are vastly underestimating the level of preparation that goes into competing to win the Bee.

For that and other obvious reasons, Scripps is unlikely to open the word list to include any and all nonsensical jargon.

> nonsensical

What would you consider nonsensical jargon? Jargon is jargon because it makes sense to those in that particular profession (medicine in this instance) but not to those outside it. Jargon that doesn't make sense to those who are using it is just fiddle-faddle.

> pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

This is nonsensical.

Tangential, but I recently realized that spelling bees wouldn’t make sense in a lot of other languages, because English reading is exceptionally irregular. I wonder if there have been attempts to reform the language.

  A Plan for the Improvement
  of English Spelling
For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all.

Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

I've always heard it as:

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c".. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f".. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

Incidentally - This joke predates the EC.


Honestly I think the only reason it's hard to read the end is because I can't pattern match those words to ones I already know. People don't sound out words when they read (at least, they don't if they're trying to be fast), they just glance at them and use context and a couple of letters to guess which one it was, the latter of which breaks when we do this.

As a tangent, I believe the written word have had a great influence on how we pronounce words.

I can't for the life of me figure out what "maindz ov ould doderez" means.

“Minds of old dodderers” (the last “r” presumably going away in this phonetic regularization because it is less pronounced or unpronounced in many English accents)

Hmm, I would have guessed "doubters" rather than "dodderers". It seems to fit the rules as well or better, and makes more sense contextually.

I guess I had the wrong native accent...

Minds of old dodderers?

That falls apart in year 2, where it fails to recognize that in many dialects, "w" and "wh" are distinctly different. And that's the problem in general with real proposals for English spelling reform: exactly whose English should we be spelling in? Consider, for example, the word laboratory. Labritori, leboratri, or maybe something else? You don't even need to cross the Atlantic to run into difficulty.

It's possible to design an orthography that distinguishes between phonemes that most speakers distinguish, and the accept all variants (here e.g. lebretri, leboratri) as valid spellings. After all, we already have variant pronunciations reflected in spelling with some common words e.g. (dreamt, dreamed), (knelt, kneeled), (lit, lighted).

That's right. However, some letters are silent, or words are homophones, in all accents of Standard English: rite, write, right, wright could all be spelt rite (and disambiguated by context); the k could be dropped from knight, knave, and knee; the 'b' from debt, doubt, and subtle, and the 'l' from could, should, and would. These changes would work for all accents. There are probably several hundred words whose spelling could be reformed.

>"w" and "wh" are distinctly different

Right. Rather than eliminating letters, I'd go the other direction, and add more letters to account for the the various digraphs.

>exactly whose English should we be spelling in

I know we'll never be able to choose one, but any dialect would be fine to standardize on.

Is this what a stroke feels like?

Pretty good results actually. I could read it to the end:

>Finally, then, after some 20 years of orthography reform, we would have a logical, coherent spelling in use throughout the English-speaking world.

I guess it helps that a lot of those letters are being used in the way I'm used to in other languages.

This reminds me of reading Cloud Atlas

That kind of thing has been tried in schools [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initial_Teaching_Alphabet

Finally, you end up with Middle English with regular orthography?

Is this original content? It's quite good.

It's Mark Twain

Probably a pointless thing to note, but apparently maybe not.


>Note 1: The authorship of this piece is in question. Although frequently posted on the internet as authored by Mark Twain, there are some claims that it is authored by M. J. Shields in a letter by him to the Economist. See http://www.ojohaven.com/fun/spelling.html.

And from there..

>I did, however, come across one error: the "Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling" that you attribute to Mark Twain is actually (IIRC) a few paragraphs out of a letter to The Economist, written by one M.J. Shields

A couple other sites mention the same thing but I didn't bother digging any further

Nice! However, your last sentence contains "x" which was supposed to be removed from the alphabet in Year 1.

"Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli."

"By year 15 or so, it would finally be possible to make use of the redundant leters "c", "y", and "x" -- by now just a memory in the minds of old dodderers -- to replace "ch", "sh", and "th" respectively."

So "x" is removed as redundant, and then reintroduced for "th".

Noah Webster had some modest success, but only in the US, which is where many of the unique American English spellings come from - color, center, plow, etc.

Some of his proposals never caught on though. I think I remember tung (instead of tongue) being one of the rejected ones.

Color is not uniquely American. It was used in England since before America’s discovery and is, in fact, more etymologically correct - it comes from the Latin word “color”. :)

The more French-influenced colour was more common in England, and obviously eventually did totally win out.

There are generally very similar stories for most “American” spellings.

Noah Webster was (among other things) a spelling reformer, he didn't "invent" all of his spellings but he researched and deliberately chose them based on his ideas about language and politics and advocated for their use.

It was a deliberate effort, not something that just happened.

Which makes me curious, what did the Anglo-Saxons use as the word for “color”, before the onset of French influence?

Looks like it was hue (as hiw).


Also blēo(h) and dēah.

Iirc it's "Couleur" in french.

And in Polish we have both the Latin import "kolor" (Phonetic k in place of c) and Slavic variant "barwa". (Sounded with v English sound as w per phonetic Latin and forward trill r)

Polish is weird like that.

Colore in Italian. Adding random "u"s to Latin words is a very French thing.

Portuguese abbreviated it to "cor", but we keep the longer version on the verb "colorir" (to color).

It is now, maybe, but not when the borrowing took place.

Wow, I've always assumed that the difference between American and British spelling is because of a natural divergence as a result of being far away for such a long time.

No, it was a deliberate effort to create a schism.

It was also cheaper on the printing press. Less typesetting required.

I wonder as an non-American, if books printed in the US, like Shakespeare or the King James Bible or Dickens novels use British spelling or American spelling.

My copy of the king james bible uses the American spelling with the original words and phrasings, quite amazingly.

That's irregular, though, and obviously a "corrected" text for the American market, right? What does the copyright/publisher info say? The KJB is notably copyright-free, so US publishers were free to modify it.

The Harry Potter books I read as a kid used American spelling.

The American editions make some changes, such as:

car park -> parking lot, lot -> bunch, dustbin -> trashcan, punch-bag -> punching bag, sellotape -> scotch tape, cinema -> movies, post -> mail, trolley -> cart, queuing -> lining up.

See https://www.hp-lexicon.org/edits-changes-text-ps/ for more

Why would they do that? Just to deny us the experience of reading genuine UK English?

I feel deceived.

It's called "localization" and it's done to make the book more accessible for people unfamiliar with foreign spellings and phrases.

It seems patronising to Americans. They even renamed The Philosophers’ Stone to The Sorcerors’ Stone because they thought ‘philosopher’ was too complicated.

Yes, there was a separate American edition. (Even the title of the first volume was changed: the original "philosopher's stone" became "sorcerer's stone" for the US market.)

Sometimes I wonder if the editing world is arbitrarily building barriers in order to justify its continuous existence.

In the case of HP1, the title difference was based on the perception that the alchemical reference in the original title would be less evocative in the American youth market and “sorceror’s stone” would convey the intended idea better to that audience due to cultural difference. I don't know if test marketing or focus groups were involved in that judgement, but I wouldn't be surprised.

In India, the book has "Philosopher's" and the movie has "Sorcerer's". I learned only recently America had "Sorcerer" in both book and movie, I thought the Americans renamed only the movie.

I think the most interesting attempt was the Shavian alphabet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shavian_alphabet

They all have their shortcomings, of course. Possibly the most universal one is that none of the ones that I'm aware of seen do a good job of capturing the word stress system in English pronunciation. By contrast, for all its failings, the the current orthography does encode clues that a very experienced speaker of the language can use to infer word stress with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

The "word stress system" isn't nearly as systematic as you might imagine, at least in English taken as a whole.

This made me so confused as a kid growing up in a country where we can tell how a word is written based on its phonemes 99% of the time. So when I was watching dubbed cartoons from the US, they often had episodes revolving around spelling bees (e.g. I remember “Hey Arnold!” had such an episode), it made absolutely no sense when translated.

Same feeling here. Except for a few french or english loanwords it doesn't make much sense because such a contest would probably revolve around random mistakes made in a stressful situation, not about being able to spell that word in principle.

Spelling bees as they are maybe wouldn't, but there's a concept of dictation (dictées) where students transcribe the text read by the teacher. It's used not only as a graded exercise in schools, but there are entire competitions built around it. I spoke with my colleagues about it and the dictations are popular in France and Belgium. Wikipedia mentions Canada, Poland, and Switzerland too.

Dictation is (or was) used in Italy in primary school, but it becomes trivial very quickly - because pronounciation is very, very regular in that language.

Indeed, in Italy kids only do dictation for two-three years.

In Polish that concept exists only because it has letters with same sounds: h/ch, u/ó, ż/rz. It's mostly for kids at school, because after a while you just remember which letter to use in most words and the rest you guess from similarities / changing the form. I've never heard of a competition around it, and the concept is rather silly for adults. (Yes, there is (was?) an annual national dictation, but it's done for fun)

There used to be a yearly televised national dictation in Holland[1], but they stopped after 2017 because not enough people were watching anymore.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Dictation_of_the_Dutch_L...

> I wonder if there have been attempts to reform the language.

I hope not, the complexity and overall size is its strength. Especially the widespread and mandatory use of its embedded "idiomatic usage" subset makes it a hell of a lot more fun than something regular, like Spanish.

English is great as is.

The problem with trying to do serious spelling reform in English is that the language already has two major "branches", British and American, and spelling reform would pretty much have to favor one over the other. It'd probably end up being based on American English, just based on number of users and because AmE spelling tends to be closer to pronunciation (sorry Brits, but it's true. We don't pronounce the -er suffix like we're French, and what the hell is going on with some of your town names like "Featherstonhaugh"). I can't see Commonwealth countries just lying down to accept that, and if you can't get all English users on board, then what's the point?

Languages where a single country has a "majority stake in the cultural control" of a language tend to be able to pull off spelling reform (German, Chinese, etc.). Languages where this isn't the case (English, Portugese, French post-1900) find it a lot harder to gain the necessary consensus.

> what the hell is going on with some of your town names like "Featherstonhaugh"

One theory is that it was confused with "Fanshawe". We aren't even _trying_ to write what it sounds like:

> So Festonhaw, which is the recorded shortening of Featherstonhaugh, was somehow garbled further to something like Fesnaw or Feshnaw [...then...] we can just say that the garbled Feshnaw sounded so similar to the preexisting surname Fanshawe, that people just conflated the two surnames in speech.

> But not in writing.

> We don't pronounce the -er suffix like we're French

Though interestingly you've kept that with "herb" - in British English, it has a hard H (but I'm not quite sure what you mean by the -er suffix - in my experience, it's the same in both. Did you mean -re?)


It's not exclusively a British thing though - Connecticut and Poughkeepsie come to mind.

Connecticut, Poughkeepsie, and many, many other place names in the US are not English at all; they're names/words from various indigenous American languages. It's not fair to count these "against" American English, are there are good logical reasons to just use the established place names that the locals are already using, rather than worsening things by making up your own parallel set of place names.

Wouldn't it make sense to let the languge converge on its own? The majorty of weird rules in english (aka commonly misspelled words) are being kept by teachers/pedants/stupid HRs.

If you find English reading irregular, wait until you try to learn French.

In French most vowel and other letter combinations are pronounced in a consistent way, unlike English, so do you have examples?

I'm a native French speaker and French spelling is very irregular. There are tons of unspoken letters and the accents make it even more complex, especially the "accent circonflexe" (^) which is usually silent.

Some examples:

- temps (time): the "p" and "s" are completely silent

- oignon (onion): pronounced as "ognon" (the "i" is silent)

- asseoir (sit down): pronounced as "assoir" (the "e" is silent)

- poids (weight): the "d" and "s" are silent. "poi" (pea) is also a word.

- most words ending on "ou" take an "s" in plural, e.g. "verrou" becomes "verrous", except for certain words like "hibou", which becomes "hiboux" in plural.

- the noun "dépôt" takes the "^" accent, yet its derived verb "déposer" does not.

> - oignon (onion): pronounced as "ognon" (the "i" is silent)

Heh, as is the "g" as well. The best way to explain the pronunciation to English speakers is "say onion but with a French accent". The "g" is the most confusing part of the spelling to native English speakers as a "g" is never silent in English.

Well I guess this is anecdotal evidende. I speak both fluently and find French way more irregular. I've never heard someone saying that French is consistent. You're perhaps thinking of spanish? People usually talk about German when they think of consistency.

French writing is hard, because the same pronunciation can be spelled in many different ways (for example he vs. j'ai). To find the right one you need to know the grammar. The French also have some kind of spelling bee competition as far as I remember.

On the other hand, reading French is easy. There is no such thing as the English -ough suffix.

as a counter argument: have you ever known of spelling bee in France?

Spelling tests are a full part of the curriculum and there are championships. Look for "dictée".

Like the other comment is saying, it's pretty much part of your education (dictee) up until high school IIRC. It's really really hard. Actually I don't think I know anyone in France who can write correctly, even in casual chat.


I did. As a native speaker of English, French (written or spoken) is far more regular.

exceptionally irregular? Still the most regular and modern of all other indogermanic languages. Compare to German, which has much more exceptions or cases. Or Chinese. Or Japanese. Any of the older languages. There spelling bee competitions would be much harder.

German might be grammatically inconsistent but regarding spelling it's highly regular at least compared to English.

Dutch is way more regular and rational. It is nearly perfectly phoenetic -- my 6 year old daughter finds it significantly easier to read than English, her first language.

Besides the fact that Chinese and Japanese are not indo-European, how would you do a spelling bee for Chinese?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9YqLNT5yumI Chinese Character Hero is the closest equivalent I guess

Japanese has “draw the kanji for x”, I assume the same thing would work in China

People don’t like it too much if you go around being a spell-splainer, so I try to soften the corrections with a little humor.

True dat. I was at a seminar given by a local to remain unnamed law firm and I spotted a spelling error in their handout. I mentioned it to one of the speakers on the way out, more as an ice breaker to start a conversation but received an icy response.

I introduce the idea as "I found a copyedit for your handout"

By dismissively using the jargon of a profession that most people overlook/look down on, you can often give the responsible person the suggestion in a way that doesn't attack their ego.

The whole thing about 'spelling bee' seems crazy to me. What is the point in memorising a dictionary and then repeating what was in it to an audience?

Most competitions (why is it a spelling bee and not a spelling competition?) seem to revolve around a specific skill that stands on its own, and it's rarely about retaining facts that are described in a book. Compared to a physical sport, it's as if you'd remember all the rules but then not play the game. Or compared to a sport like Go or Chess, there is no interaction with an opponent, there is no improvisation or strategy, just data.

Maybe it's an American thing, and it holds it's value because it's a tradition that was recently created (well, relatively recent). It's what most searches seem to suggest... (as well as it being the reason that I don't run in to a 'bee' in other countries)

What is the point in memorising a dictionary and then repeating what was in it to an audience?

You could say this about every form of recreation, let alone competitive activity. You don't find it interesting, that's okay, different people enjoy different things.

The best spelling bee champs (the ones winning the big scholarships) are not just memorization machines, they have deep understanding of the etymology and structure of English words (which I happen to find very interesting).

If you set aside a few minutes to watch the Scripps spelling bee, you'll notice that the competitors ask about the etymology and usage of the word in a sentence. This information gives subtle clues (such as Greek or Latin roots) that a good speller can use to spell a word they've never seen before. That is an impressive feat, if you ask me!

I did watch a few of them, and I still didn't get it. You're not really directly competing (all you have is failure count which you cannot influence - except your own of course).

I get that it can be interesting to some people but the scale of the whole thing (in the US) is what surprises me every time.

Then again, I also don't get reality TV or pageants. Maybe I'm not the target audience...

Huh? A spelling bee is a competition in exactly the same way that a race is. You can't influence how fast your opponents run, you can only be faster than them. Same in a spelling bee; you have to last longer than your opponents.

I suppose there are races that are constructed so that you can not influence each other, but there are plenty where you can.

At the same time, being able to spell obscure words doesn't have a wide application like being able to run, cycle, drive or swim fast has. (but those probably have their limits as well - fast cycling/running is handy when you also want to be a bike courier or need to outrun a bear, but less useful when you have a day job as a painter).

I guess in the end the point I made also works against my instinct to express a dislike for arbitrary contest when I don't get the scale/following.

I think a better comparison is a game like chess. Is chess useful outside of being a professional chess player/instructor? No. So being a chess Grandmaster is every bit as useless as being a spelling bee champion, apart from the prestige.

Having said that, being able to spell obscure words is likely to increase your vocabulary, which may be useful if you decide to become a writer. Frankly, that's probably more useful than learning how to throw horseshoes.

I think a big contributor to the popularity and scale of spelling bees in the US is the high cost of university tuition. Many families couldn't afford it without a scholarship.

>What is the point in memorizing a dictionary and then repeating what was in it to an audience?

I think it's less about the act and more about the competitors. You never really see spelling bees among 30+ or even 20+ contestants - because at that age nobody cares. But for teenagers or elementary schoolers, being able to demonstrate an above-excellent level of English comprehension is impressive precisely because of their lack of experience.

Spelling bees don't test English comprehension.

> What is the point in memorising a dictionary

This isn't too different from quiz shows, I guess, although information from those tend to be more applicable.

It's also probably a bit of an oversimplification to call it memorizing a dictionary, some of the learning strategy involves understanding the rules of multiple languages, their root words, word etymologies, etc.

I suppose applicable was the word I was looking for. The parallel I was aiming at was the one where a well known scientist said he wasn't interested in memorising facts (in this case mathematical constants) from a book because that's what the book was for.

I enjoyed this look behind the scenes at this year's national spelling bee, which also delves into its history:


Memorizing PI seems to be a global hobby, and that's less useful than the dictionary. After a few dozen digits PI is essentially a useless string of random digits.

I won my state's bee in 1987, and when I got to the national bee I wondered where these people got all these weird extra study books. Turns out there was already a cottage industry around bee prep (which would have been great to know beforehand).

As for the long term effects, I do notice misspellings whether i want to or not. Sometimes it happens with syntax errors in code, too.

TBH though, the vast majority of misspellings one sees aren't especially hard words. They're "loose" used instead of "lose" and things like that.

Never had any interest in spelling bees but I've done a huge amount of copyediting/editing so I'm very aware of mistakes (including misspellings) in writing generally.

Over the past two years, "payed" in place of "paid" has become very widespread and I have no idea why. It seems to have started on social media and has been rapidly spreading upwards.

There's always been pressure to regularize irregular portions of the english language. Although, personally I've seen learnt coming into vogue even though I certainly learned it as a regular form.

As a sibling pointed out, what the spellcheck accepts is law, and those dictionaries have grown signifigantly.

> Over the past two years, "payed" in place of "paid" has become very widespread and I have no idea why

It's been common forever, because “payed” follows the most common pattern of forming a past participle in English (“ad ‘-ed’”) and also fits the pronunciation people are familiar with from oral communication; it's been infecting more formal communication since automated spellchecking displaced much second-eye proofreading because it is actually a correct spelling of that verb form for certain—though less commonly encountered—meanings of “pay” (yes, the verb had different conjugations with the same pronunciation and different spelling for it's different meanings because English is just that way.)

Another old one in that vein is hanged/hung with hanged pretty much specific to executing people. (Although, partly because "hanged" just doesn't come up in daily speech much any longer, hung almost certainly gets used more frequently and isn't considered especially incorrect.)


I actually went to my state bee in the early 90s and was in a position to do well and advance but realized up on stage I had no desire to go on to Nationals or be like my fellow competitors so deliberately flubbed a word or two I knew

They don't grow old. They superannuate.

Superannuate. S-U-P-E-R...

They understand that their skill (usually selected by their parents for them) is irrelevant?

* mid-timbred

Although, apparently "timber" is a less common variant of timbre: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/timbre

Thank you for this. I finally found a name for the condition where my son remembers life events so vividly, which is called “Hyperthymestic” syndrome. Any one else out there with this condition?

>Spelling contests have remained a feature in American life since the Puritans landed on Plymouth Rock — but is peaking at 12 years old all it’s cracked up to be?

Whether the settlers landed at Plymouth Rock itself is not known accurately. However, the Puritans didn’t land at whatever became the Plymouth colony. The ones who landed were Separatists (the ones who left the Anglican Church) who called themselves the Pilgrims. The Puritans (ones who stayed in the church to purify it) did arrive in America, but later.

> Whether the settlers landed at Plymouth Rock itself is not known accurately

I thought it was pretty well established that the landing and colony was elsewhere (but somewhat nearby), but Plymouth Rock essentially became a tourist attraction attached to it by fable later.

Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact