Scripps National Spelling Bee pronouncer Jacques Bailly says “humuhumunukunukuapuaa” is actually easier to spell than “recede.”
Bailly is the guy who pronounces the words, repeats them, and answers any language-of-origin questions the spellers might have.
He runs the show.
In an interview with USA Today’s Laken Litman, he explained why commons words are harder to spell than weird words.
He said of “humuhumunukunukuapuaa:”
“People think that a word like humuhumunukunukuapuaa, the state fish of Hawaii, is hard to spell. It’s not hard to spell. It’s got a particular pattern. It’s unique. That makes it particularly easy.”
And then talked about “recede:”
“I think recede is a good example of a word that’s hard to spell. Because you’ve got the -ede or the -eed, you’ve got the C or the S. It’s a common word, but people can’t spell it.”
We know how to spell “recede” because we use it over and over again and have become used to it, not because it’s an easy word to spell.
Oxford Dictionaries has a list of some other commons words that people always misspell. The highlights:
The Spelling Bee is on Thursday on ESPN.
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