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jishnumenona t1_je61a6c wrote

Ironically the contests are won by kids of non native English speakers.


wakatenai t1_je6kgac wrote

non native english speakers often end up having a much larger vocabulary and much better at writing papers.

because we learn our english from our parents and other people and how they talk, what words they use.

most non natives learn their english from teachers and books and more "official" english. our parents english isn't college paper english, nor are they dictionaries.


GeorgieWashington t1_je6u2wx wrote

And of course, learning a new language makes you more intelligent overall, which makes the process of breaking a word down much easier.


DrZoidberg- t1_je6zmdv wrote

I'd say it's the same in reverse, at least for me.

My wife is Spanish and when I'm learning she says, "yeah it's like this. (speaks Spanish)" and I have to ask her "ok, but how would it be written in a book" because I don't want to sound dumb.


wakatenai t1_je726m8 wrote

ya honestly a lot of americans who only speak english struggle a bit in english classes because they don't know essay english so they just write the paper how they talk and then get an F lol.


DrZoidberg- t1_je7dq1e wrote

But y you gave me n F? Iwrite a good paper it's bcuz u hate me.


RadimentriX t1_je723qd wrote

Learned the basics in school and the vocabulary from yt, movies and music. English is one of the easiest languages to learn imo since most content one comes across in the web is english


Petrichordates t1_je788sj wrote

Do you have a source for these claims? Because I'm finding the exact opposite (in other words, the result you'd expect)

> In contrast, non-native speakers living in English-speaking countries for many years learn 2.5 words a day, over twice the rate of native speakers. Even with that breakneck speed, researchers found that adults know on average 10,000-20,000 words less than their native counterparts, or a native English speakers’ 8- to 14-year-old vocabulary level. 


Samurai_Banette t1_je7q3hz wrote

I think the idea is native speakers have practical mastery of the language, with a huge bias towards words that have common use. If its a second language, outside of the words you absolutely need to get by the words you pick up might be more obscure or academic.

For example: Estalogical vs Vestigial. Native speakers will all know vestigial due to biology class, while a second language learner would have no bias on which to learn because neither are particularly relevent. They might pick up Estalogical instead, sound really smart, and no one would realize they never learned vestigial because its not used enough.


iamavila t1_je8whje wrote

Dude I can't find estalogical anywhere, google suggests eschatological, is that what you meant?


bigmac22077 t1_je7ej9n wrote

I used to work with South Americans all the time at a ski resort as they would come in on j1 visas. They always used “big” words where I’d think, you’re struggling to speak English right now, and you came up with that word?! It’s clearly from not learning the language through speech.


CurrentIndependent42 t1_je6vnhu wrote

Depends where. But the kids themselves are usually native speakers, and there’s not much difference in level of language level based just on parentage. Socioeconomic factors that effect general education level make far more of an impact when it comes to level of literacy.


ColonelMonty t1_je6y2kq wrote

They got to work twice as hard to figure out our nonsense language because they weren't born into it like native English speakers.


TenWildBadgers t1_je729ir wrote

Yeah, they actually learned the rules.

Who among us with English as a first language actually uses the word "whom"? Because we're absolutely supposed to.


BruceNY1 t1_je6v4ts wrote

That's what I was about to say: as a second language English is super-easy to spell...


reditusername39479 t1_je6a314 wrote

English is not one language but 3 wearing a trench coat pretending to be 1


fantollute t1_je6dxvo wrote

And in that coat is loose merchandise stolen from even more languages


wombey12 t1_je6y1g9 wrote

>"We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."

-James Nicoll


CurrentIndependent42 t1_je6vtcp wrote

This old chestnut. English isn’t particularly unusual in this regard. What’s unusual - though not unique - is having an old orthography that hasn’t been updated or uniformed to reflect modern pronunciation.


dragonmp93 t1_je7735q wrote

The problem with English is that it has 5 vowels with 13 sounds.


CurrentIndependent42 t1_je77sgx wrote

That’s one issue. Danish has even more, and other funny phonological stuff going on, though even then has more consistent sound to spelling matching.


Single_Reporter_6369 t1_je5w0tt wrote

Being a kid and watching american movies dubbed or subbed I remember literally thinking "How the f is that supposed to he hard? Why is it a big deal?"


Afrikalijapon t1_je6lsmp wrote

Haha, yes! I thought American kids were stupid, turns out it's the language


spolite t1_je6is1c wrote

Wait, I don't get it!


nimitzhunter t1_je6s2hp wrote

He read the captions so the words are already spelled out for him.


CurrentIndependent42 t1_je6w0g6 wrote

No I think they mean they heard or read it translated into another language where the spelling is much more consistent.


spolite t1_je77tkp wrote

I think I'm missing the part of my brain that I would need to understand this.

I still don't get it.

Like, what YOU said makes sense, but their wording... I just don't see how that wording can translate to what you said...

Oh well, I'll take the L on this one.


CurrentIndependent42 t1_je7ashh wrote

I think the key part is they said they watched ‘American movies’ (presumably in English) ‘dubbed or subbed’, which means they’re probably not themselves first language English speakers.

So if they were watching some scene with a spelling bee (from context), and saw/heard the translation of the word in question, it would be a word in their own language, and probably not at all hard to spell, since in most languages apart from English (with a few exceptions), that’s the case.


spolite t1_je84al1 wrote

OK, so the commenter was watching 'Akeelah and the Bee' subbed and dubbed in their language and the words Akeelah had to spell were simple in the commenter's language so they didn't understand what the big deal was?


Single_Reporter_6369 t1_je76d85 wrote

In some languages, mine included, words are spelled exactly as they are pronounced for the most part. Sure, there are some similar sounds here that can make you confused with a letter or two, but not enough to make it a contest worthy skill.


spolite t1_je78t5i wrote

Is this right?: "I remember as a kid, I'd be watching american movies with English subtitles on and literally thinking "Why the f does the spelling have to be that hard? What's the point of making it so inconsistent??"


BRAX7ON t1_je78l88 wrote

What most people won’t tell you is that people who are good spellers here in the US are worshiped. We’re absolutely put on a pedestal. Actually it’s hard to go out in public when people know you can spell the way we can. It’s can be quite cumbersome.


spliffsandsunsets t1_je5rr3e wrote

I may be short a brain cell or two but which nation and which sport?


wildadragon t1_je5savl wrote

Scripps National Spelling Bee held here in the US


spliffsandsunsets t1_je6iowe wrote

Wowza, thought that was just a kids school thing as it seems to be in television.


Young_Cato_the_Elder t1_je6jg54 wrote

It is but there's a decent chunk of money attached and it's a national competition which is broadcast nationally.


magicblufairy t1_je79g1g wrote

I friggin love watching that but I nearly have a heart attack sometimes. It's... stressful.


Halsti t1_je67n11 wrote

at least you dont have to wonder what gender "spelling" is. or wonder about the rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz


HlTLERS_HIDDEN_CHILD t1_je6e92w wrote

German spelling bee must be wild.


ox2bad t1_je6g67z wrote

They don’t have spelling bees in German. They just eliminate spaces between words sometimes. “Rindfleisch” = cow meat (beef) and the end is “Gesetz” which means law.


araralc t1_je774g1 wrote

Sometimes i wanna cry when people seriously believe that "this German word doesn't exist in English" but in the end it's just a lot of words without a space in-between. I feel like a part of it is that language terms sometimes try to universalize things that are different from language to language. Some languages don't merge whole words (they might have words by merging, but it changes the structure of them) some merge a couple words, and some merge a lot of words. Some traditionally don't even have spaces at all.

I'd say English falls into the middle category. Starlight are two words in one. I haven't studied proper English grammar but if i remember correctly in my main language similar words (with whole merging) are considered neologisms and actually two words. In English i feel like it's considered one. Which draws a weird line when you consider German comparatively, and not individually.


orbital_narwhal t1_je79zs6 wrote

> this German word doesn't exist in English

It’s very common that a language has a distinct word for a concept for which no distinct word exists in another language. But that’s not the same as composite words. Although sometimes composites take on a different or additional meaning than just the combination of their parts (see below).

I can think of a bunch of German words that really do not exist in English except for their loanwords:

  • Zeitgeist
  • Weltschmerz
  • Wanderlust
  • Fernweh
  • Zugzwang
  • Ohrwurm
  • sturmfrei

araralc t1_je7bqrb wrote

Yeah, usually the "this word doesn't exist in another language" is about concepts or other things that are culturally influenced. But somehow I've seen a bunch of those lists or mentions that are actually just a simple German composite that can be translated into other languages if you don't make "it gotta be a single word" a rule. So like, completely translatable stuff. I always saw those and would think it was like saying "starlight" isn't a word in Portuguese because "luz estelar" are two words, but with bigger merges.


CurrentIndependent42 t1_je6x80c wrote

Nah the spelling is consistent. The length is hardly an issue than asking a kid to spell a whole English sentence: most of those words are compound nouns that might even be similar in English, just that English uses spaces or words like ‘of’ in between.

“Wow German has a single word for a law about the transmission of tasks for beef labelling supervision!”

I mean yeah, the equivalent of ‘beeflabellingsurveillancetasktransmissionlaw’. Or if we break it down twice, ‘beeffleshlabellingoverwatchingoutgivingoverdraggingslaw’.

It’s not like German has a trillions completely different ultra long words primed for this. They can just be produced as part of the grammar without the convention of spaces. A lot of compound nouns in English could be treated as single words in the same way going purely based on the actual spoken language.


Beetsa t1_je6zcvy wrote

And of course those examples are very artificial. At least in Dutch, such words would be correct, but not really used in practice. Compound words of more than 3 parts are rare in real speech. (Although U have used bijbelstudieleidershalfjaarsevaluatie) a couple of times.


spolite t1_je6m5i5 wrote

Yeah, I don't even know what gender spelling is...

But isn't that a German compound word (since noun clusters aren't a thing in German)?

Like, even if a native German speaker had never heard that compound word, they'd still understand it because it's just a combination of other words?

And also, aren't they made up a lot of the time and thus won't necessarily be found in the dictionary?

I mean... can German compound words be misinterpreted or "put together" incorrectly? And does it happen very often? Almost like... it's expected?

English isn't a phonetic language, it's just all over the place... A grown ass native speaker of English will screw up spelling stuff all the time and it's kinda just normal... normal to keep effing up our own language.


Berloxx t1_je6vg8t wrote

To answer you questions, yes, yes, yes, yes, and lastly, meh, maybe, as a German native speaker I don't really have misinterpreted such words but that may not be the norm, don't know definitely.

You got it 🙂


orbital_narwhal t1_je7ahrj wrote

> Like, even if a native German speaker had never heard that compound word, they'd still understand it because it's just a combination of other words?

Usually yes but occasionally compound words take on a different or additional meaning than one might think based purely off the meaning of the compounds. Furthermore, homonyms are a thing in German and it’s not always immediately clear which meaning a compound carries in an unknown compound words. Also, some (compound) words take on new meanings over time when they’re often used metaphorically.

Examples: Weltschmerz, Ohrwurm, sturmfrei


AC2BHAPPY t1_je6kkjm wrote

... do they really not have spelling competitions in other languages


antiquemule t1_je6pez5 wrote

In France we used to have a yearly dictation competition on prime time television - “the golden dictionaries”. You could tag along at home to see how you compared with the best.

Afterwards, Members of the very serious French academy would explain the obscure grammar rules that had to be followed to get the right answer.

Almost nobody got 100%. Riveting stuff!


pewpewpewouch t1_je6swkl wrote

We do the same in Holland and Belgium. I never got a 100% score.. pretty difficult usually.


Neikius t1_je77h32 wrote

Well it is probably the fault of the french that the English use this atrocious spelling. Would have to check tho.


wombey12 t1_je6wo0q wrote

Ah yes, Les Immortels. Learnt about them through a Tom Scott video; they sound very, very protective when it comes to their language.


noname942 t1_je6l8wk wrote


at least not in most of them

Sounds match to letters almost perfectly so it's just not a problem.


imnotonatrain t1_je6ue9n wrote

Gnome. Knife. Dumb. Design. Knight

Ok, English. Go home, you're drunk


CarsonOrSanders t1_je6r8ui wrote

>Sounds match to letters almost perfectly so it's just not a problem.

Yeah okay. Everyone who speaks in every other language knows how to spell every word because the sounds are so perfect.


noname942 t1_je6w02u wrote

I'm speaking for Czech, Slovak and German, (they're not exactly perfect, but when compared to English... one could say they're very consistent and regular), according to wikipedia it's like that in quite a few languages (they're listing only languages with high degree of grapheme-phoneme correspondence, English is still orders of magnitude behind German and Slovak even if they're not in the list though)

Also, according to wikipedia, spelling bee exists in only 3 languages other than English


CarsonOrSanders t1_je75fsh wrote

Your own wiki link says the spelling bee in Uganda alone has 10 different languages.

Also Hindi, one of the "3 other languages", is the third most spoken language in the entire world.

I guess what I'm getting at were wrong.


dragonmp93 t1_je77evg wrote

Well, Chinesse and Hindi and the most spoken languages because China and India are 1/3 of the entire humanity.


pewpewpewouch t1_je6spcg wrote

We have a National Dictation on tv in Netherlands and Belgium. Celebs are in it as well. But this is very different from the spelling bee, also pretty difficult.


Epic1024 t1_je6qte2 wrote

In Ukrainian letters in a word sound the same way they would sound individually, I imagine it's the same way for many other languages


ok_my_friend t1_je6xszn wrote

Dictations are more popular because they're way harder. There are more words and you can make punctuation mistakes.


tomal95 t1_je76q82 wrote

I don't think they're really a thing in the English speaking world that isn't America. I've never had or heard of one in the UK.


araralc t1_je77prz wrote

They do. I speak Brazilian Portuguese, which has way more uniform rules regarding spelling versus pronunciation, but there were spelling competitions. Idk how those are going nowadays. But they can be very easy if you are fluent in the language conventions. So usually who participates is on the younger side


pewpewpewouch t1_je6s7nb wrote

As a Dutchman i can only say that i think English is much easier grammatically compared to Dutch.


Seigmoraig t1_je6wjrl wrote

English is much easier than most other languages


thedeebo t1_je6x4eh wrote

When English is regular, it's pretty easy. It just likes to throw some curve balls out there.


cabalavatar t1_je6sc48 wrote

I find it interesting that this is almost entirely a US phenomenon. Spelling bees do happen elsewhere in the Anglo world, but they're rare and rarely get any attention.


domotor2 t1_je6f2vp wrote

I think English spelling is reasonable most of the time, and they make a national sport out of the few times it does get difficult.

Spelling bees would be very boring if the contestants were judged on their ability to spell the most commonly used English words!


noname942 t1_je6l5j8 wrote

> I think English spelling is reasonable most of the time

You sure about that? Every word is pronounced and spelled differently, letters don't match sounds 1:1 as they are supposed to, unlike in most other languages


thedeebo t1_je6xexd wrote

It's "reasonable" if you know when and where the word was picked up. For most of the weird stuff, you can blame the French. English was a regular Germanic language before 1066.


Its_justanick t1_je78tw4 wrote

And loanwords

And also the fact they adopted some spelling rules from Flemish

And the great vowel shift

And the fact that the spelling rules haven't been updated in so long.


thedeebo t1_je79th9 wrote

I have to limit what I explain because I could drone on for a while about the history of the English language. I've found just blaming the French to be the most efficient way of explaining the situation.


noname942 t1_je6ymwl wrote

> It's "reasonable" if you know when and where the word was picked up

Ok, let me stop you here, how tf am I supposed to know????? Does the average English speaker know? And even if so, English pronounciation has been evolving separately from spelling for centuries so it doesn't really matter.


thedeebo t1_je77o9x wrote

Most native English speakers seem barely able to spell anything but the most basic words, so I doubt anyone besides weird nerds like me spend any time looking up word etymologies. We just memorize how to spell and speak, like anyone else does. We just have the advantage of having been totally immersed in it since infancy.

I'm sure you'd be unsurprised to learn that the evolution of English pronunciation is partially responsible for the weird spellings as well. The "gh" in "light" used to make the Germanic throat noise, but now it doesn't. Writing is a lot stickier than pronunciation. Everyone learned how to spell from writing that happened before pronunciation changed, so the spelling stuck around. The same thing happened in Romance languages when they started diverging from Classical Latin.

I could go on and on, but I'll save it for my ESL coworker who enjoys having esoteric conversations about linguistics.


Im-shy-not-mean t1_je6rvq8 wrote

English is very weird

There their they're 2 two too to tutu Kansas and Arkansas pronunciation Don't get me started on the differe t meanings of word word "ass"

The list goes on.


Cockalorum t1_je725pt wrote

> Kansas and Arkansas pronunciation

Arkansas was part of the Louisiana Purchase, it was originally named by the French. It is a little surprising the Americans still pronounce it how it was originally named, given how everything between Detroit and New Orleans was named by the French, and for the most part Americans can't pronounce any of it.


TehOuchies t1_je6y47s wrote

I actually got to pull of a "to you two too" in natural conversation. It was great.


NoWunder t1_je72il6 wrote

Nonsense: nonsensical: NonSeussical :on senses: no sentences : no se


Showerthoughts_Mod t1_je5eiww wrote

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Rule-breaking posts may result in bans.


Tnx4therealinfo t1_je66o4v wrote

I worked for a major corporation back in the days when we had offices instead of cubicles. I was a writer among other things. A friend and I would yell out stupid American English expressions. Most were idiomatic (not translatable) and it sure was fun. Spelling is a problem and spellcheck isn't helping me remember how to spell so I rarely use it.


masshiker t1_je6jiw7 wrote

There is even disagreement on how many sounds are made by the five vowels. Some claim twenty.


TroGinMan t1_je6y61p wrote

Wait until you learn French. I can't imagine what spelling bees are like there


Pikkornator t1_je71u5n wrote

Wait till you find out the whole language was based on old which spells.


Canilickyourfeet t1_je75fmp wrote

See...I'm conflicted about this. Because every language has nuances that other languages don't - words which are very good at describing an emotion or thought.

The Russians have words that describe love differently than English. The Chinese have words that express sadness better than English does. But English feels very precise, and serves the purpose of expressing a very specific thought without verbosity. Granted, verbosity is what we're good at, very often without good reason, but I feel the extra words help hone in on the precise idea.

But then again, I circle back to Russian, where I can express a feeling or vibe that English words cannot hone in on in the same amount of words.


What's the Russian expression for "Language is weird." And does it translate the idea in as few words? Genuine question, I'm still studying.


depressed_asian_boy_ t1_je75lsn wrote

They also have spelling competition in other languages (like Spanish)


thehermit14 t1_je75rd4 wrote

I'm British and blame Europe for all the influence, however I was born in Ireland and now live in the UK.

cough spelling bee US


TheKrzysiek t1_je76aik wrote

Arent those competitions a thing for other languages too? I think I saw one for polish


mental-floss t1_je7920g wrote

Rebuttal and checkmate: the people are the problem, not the language.


Mdork_universe t1_je7achm wrote

You think spelling is hard in English, try French! Half the letters in most words are silent!


ThomasRedstone t1_je7d6tk wrote

As an English person, I can tell you with absolute certainty that spelling is not a national sport.


j-r-m-b-v-n t1_je72eva wrote

As a french speaker , english is by far the easiest language to learn


hacksoncode t1_je731vh wrote

Nah, it's not "unreasonable", it's "rich".

Sort of like how a crazy rich person is "eccentric".


thetomahawk42 t1_je73icz wrote

And international competitions can't exist because English spellings are different in some countries...


lankymjc t1_je74koc wrote

Only in the USA. Doesn’t happen in other English-speaking countries.