Hieu Tran asked Christal Schermeister, 2/10/2017 2:59:52 PM

Which root languages should one focus on for the Scripps National Spelling Bee?

archived comment
2/11/2017 9:34:29 AM,
Christal Schermeister replied:

Hi,

That’s a really good question, almost every speller wrestles with it sooner or later. Although there’s no set formula for an order of study, a good place to start is by looking at the odds of getting a particular language at the national spelling bee. According to Scott Remer in his book “Words of Wisdom,” (which I recommend highly), here are the languages of origin ranked according to percentage of words in the Scripps National Spelling Bee:

Language

%

Latin

27

Greek

21

French

16

Middle English

10

German

5

Italian

4

Spanish

3

Russian

2

Persian/Hindi/Urdu

2

Japanese

2

Arabic

1.69

Portuguese

1

Dutch

1

Afrikaans

1

Sanskrit

1

Yiddish

0.5

Hebrew

0.5

Turkish

0.4

Hungarian

0.26

Chinese

0.26

Malay

0.26

Samoan/Tahitian

0.26

Norwegian

0.13

Swedish

0.13

Gaelic

0.13

Welsh

0.13

Polish

0.13

Finnish

0.13

Tagalog

0.13

Hawaiian

0.13

Egyptian

0.13

Note that the first four make up the majority of words; I would suggest starting there, and then allocating appropriate study hours to the remaining languages.

Another thing to consider is studying roots: take a look at Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Prefixes, Suffixes, and Combining Forms: I would rate that as important as any of the languages listed above.

Hope this helps!

 -Christal Schermeister

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