Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

School District's Spelling Bee tonight

Spelling Bees helped market Noah Webster's spelling books.

Plainfielders have an opportunity to participate this evening in the local expression of the country's original 'American Idol' event: the Plainfield school district's Spelling Bee.

Spelling Bees were a great attraction in small-town and rural America beginning in the 19th century. In the days before mass entertainment, they would draw audiences from the surrounding area to lively evenings centered on the elimination of challengers by increasing the difficulty of words to be spelt, arriving finally at a single winner.

These Spelling Bees were made popular in conjunction with the spelling book of Noah Webster, a staple in American schoolrooms throughout the 19th century. Webster is considered the father of American English, having set himself the lofty goal of distinguishing English spoken in the United States from that of England.

We have Webster to thank for many of our peculiarly American spellings -- color instead of colour, theater instead of theatre, and many more.

Webster is the subject of a new and fascinating book by Joshua Kendall, The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture (see here)

If you want to get a glimpse of America's original 'Idol" culture, come on out this evening.

PS: I still have the Merriam-Webster dictionary I won in a Western New York Spelling Bee in the early 1950s.

Plainfield Public Schools
Today | 7 PM Sharp

Board of Ed Building
1200 Myrtle Avenue

All are welcome!

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Rebecca Williams said...

I was spelling bee champion at I.S. 72 in South Jamaica, Queens, where I grew up. I represented my school at the district finals, where I was doing quite well, watching other participants drop off--lol. I choked in the finals after spelling several other harder (to me, at least) words correctly.

My word? Embryo, which I spelled: E-M-B-R-I-O

I still got a certificate from the NY Daily News, but no photo--lol. I remember riding the bus home with my dad--he kept saying, "r-Y-o, Becky, r-Y-o." Thanks, Daddy. Heh.