That was a heck of a blast against spelling bees from professor Anatoly Liberman at the University of Minnesota on MPR’s Midmorning today.
“It’s an unmitigated evil,” Liberman told MPR’s Kerri Miller. He is the author of Etymology for Everyone: Word Origins and How We Know Them. “The whole thing is wrong from beginning to end. I would not allow any child to come close to the competition, let alone win it.”
Liberman said the words in the championship rounds of the spelling bee are useless. “They’re invented,” he said. “They exist, but they have a shadow existence. They exist for the sake of failing students, those who want to partake in the spelling bee.”
“Not a single of them has anything to do with the English language. They are German, Spanish, sometimes architectural terms from France,” he said. “Knowing how to spell them is absolutely a useless accomplishment.”