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In US, spelling contest draws protesters

world Updated: Jun 05, 2010 12:49 IST

The U.S. capital always draws its share of protesters, picketing for causes ranging from health care reform to immigration policy. But spelling bee protesters? They are out there, too.

A bee is a gathering of people for a particular purpose. Four peaceful protesters, some dressed in full-length black and yellow bee costumes, represented the American Literacy Council and the London-based Spelling Society and stood outside the Grand Hyatt hotel on Thursday, where the Scripps National Spelling Bee is being held.

Their message was short: Simplify the way we spell words. Roberta Mahoney, 81, a former elementary school principal, said the current language obstructs 40 percent of the population from learning how to read, write and spell.

"Our alphabet has 425-plus ways of putting words together in illogical ways," Mahoney said. The protesting cohort distributed pins to willing passers-by with their logo, "Enuf is enuf. Enough is too much."

According to literature distributed by the group, it makes more sense for "fruit" to be spelled as "froot," "slow" should be "slo," and "heifer" _ a word spelled correctly during the first oral round of the bee on Thursday by Texas competitor Ramesh Ghanta _ should be "hefer."

Meanwhile, inside the hotel, 273 spellers celebrated the complexity of the language in all its glory, correctly spelling words like zaibatsu, vibrissae and biauriculate.