New Zealand Spelling Bee inspires

Ellen Irvine | Account Manager Lifestyle

Do you know what ‘pusillanimous’ means, let alone how to spell it?

I’d hazard a guess that 99 per cent of the New Zealand wouldn’t know that this word means ‘lacking in courage and resolution’.

Pusillanimous was the word that saw 14 year-old Lucy Jessep win the 2017 New Zealand Spelling Bee at the weekend. 

And pusillanimous is a word that could never be used to describe Lucy and the other 20 students who went head-to-head in a competition that was so close, it stretched the usually 90-minute contest to four hours in length.

These kids were so good, they just weren’t getting knocked out of the competition. It was extraordinary.

We at Blink are privileged to be involved in the Spelling Bee. As lovers of words and story-telling, the ethos behind the competition resonates with us.

While some may argue that spelling isn’t important in today’s age of spellcheck, New Zealand Spelling Bee founder Janet Lucas explains that the Bee is not just about spelling – it’s about vocabulary.

By expanding your vocabulary, you’re giving yourself the tools to express yourself and understand and enjoy language, be it in books, print, online or spoken. It’s easier to communicate effectively when there’s a precise word to express yourself. When the comprehension is there, a child is more able to make a positive and informed contribution.

A lack of communication is at the root of so many issues at different stages of life. Any initiative that can help address this in young people is to be applauded.

And for anyone who says that spelling doesn’t matter, think about this: it doesn’t matter until you get a word wrong.

So don’t be pusillanimous when it comes to words – take a leaf out of Lucy Jessep’s book and surround yourself with books and language.