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Indian challenge for spelling giants

Spelling giants were asked to spell words from Indian language like Basmati, Raita and Mandir.

india Updated: Jun 03, 2006 15:28 IST

Basmati had a great influence on the 275 champion spellers at the 79th Scripps National Spelling Bee May 31 in Washington DC.

This exotic variety of Indian rice came to limelight not because the participants had it for lunch or dinner on the competition day but as a spelling challenge in the preliminary championship round (written).

The spelling giants spelled out the word correctly.

Just as Indian origin children's participation in the event has gone up in the last decade, the number of words originating from Indian languages that spellers are challenged with too has considerably increased.

Katharine Close was challenged to spell Kundali, the Sanskrit word, just after Canadian speller Finola Hackett misspelled her word (German) Weltschmerz in the 19th round. That helped her move on to the final round.

Close also got Izzat, originating from Arabic to Hindi. It was her 17th round word, when Hackett and she were the only two on stage, vying for the prestigious championship.

Durbar, Swaraj and Tiffin - words that became popular during British rule in India, were also among the words that participants encountered during their time at the gruelling championship hours May 31 and June 1.

Hindi words Gymkhana, Mandir and Raita, Kannada word Dhole (a wild dog species) and Sikkimese were the words that were among the list of championship words.

Not all were as successful as Close in spelling Indo-Aryan words.

Joanna Lapucha of Lafayette, Louisiana, misspelled the word Durbar in second round while Anjanet Loon incorrectly spelled Tiffin in Round 4. Canadian Leslie Newcombe of Don Mills, Ontario, got Dhole wrong in Round 6.