Friday, January 30, 2004

# Posted 1:59 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PAY ATTENTION! ARE YOU DISTRACTABLE? The answer to that question is 'no'. How can I be so damn sure? Because there's no such word as 'distractable'. If you can be distracted, then you are distract-ible.

Now, the reason I'm being so pedantic is that last night I rented Spellbound, a very sweet documentary about eight kids who made it to the National Spelling Bee in Washington. One of the eight gets asked to spell 'distractible', but spells it with an 'a' instead of 'i'. Of course, I thought he got it right and then felt sort of dumb when he got booted from the competition.

The film is different from a lot of documentaries because it doesn't seem to have a message or agenda. It is just a chance for the viewer to meet eight interesting young men and women as well as their families. What they have in common is an almost inexplicable love of language that results in an almost obsessive commitment to spelling every word in sight.

Unless you have a Ph.D. in English, you'll spend the second half of the film with your jaw wide-open while these kids spell words you've never even heard of. Hellebore? Euonym? Thank God I wasn't on that stage.

The final word in the National Spelling Bee represented an ironic choice on the part of the judges: logorrhea -- the excessive use of words. Might apply to certain blogs...

UPDATE: Who knew? Glenn Reynolds was once in the National Spelling Bee.
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