spbee.jpg Yeah, it’s been a couple days since 14-year-old David Scott Tidmarsh of South Bend, Indiana, won the 77th Annual Scripps National Tournament of Sadomasochism ó I mean Spelling Bee ó and promptly took refuge behind his contestant’s laminate to hide his (relief? glee? expletive-laden victory tirade?) reaction. But it was only today that I learned the tortuous word over which he miraculously triumphed and took home the top honors, and therein lies my beef. The word was: autochthonous. That’s right, a-u-t-o-c-h-t-h-o-n-o-u-s. Nearest I can tell, it’s pronounced aw-tahk-theh-nuss. And its meaning? Pffft: indigenous.

I think it’s safe to say that I and 99.65% of the rest of humanity would have gone our entire indigenous lives without ever hearing or using autochthonous. You know why? Because indigenous is freakin’ good enough. Indigenous is fine. Indigenous is all we need. There is just no cause to be coming up with wretchedly excessive alternatives like autochthonous. Gawd does English suck.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering (even though you’re not), runner up Akshay Buddiga from Denver lost when he missed ó check this out: schwarmerei. Ain’t that a kick in the head? Turns out schwarmerei means “excessive or unwholesome sentiment.” As in “These words fill me with a shitload of schwarmerei.”

6 thoughts on “WORD UP”

  1. You should delight in learning new words, especially if you’re a writer! And don’t use tortuous again.


  2. Tortuous. Tortuous. Tortuous. Tortuoustortuous.



  3. Yeah you have a point about the Spelling Bee, but say what those kids did well. But listen “the word Schwarmerei is not autochthonous to the US but to Germany, so WHY was it included by someone who mispronounced it eleven times?” Akshay had no chance at all, nor would anyone else have had, to get it remotely correct. I am a german speaker (lived there for most of my life) and I spelt it the the way it was pronounced and got it wrong. Something needs to be changed. Think I’ll close my left eye, then my schwarmerei and go to sleep.

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