National Spelling Bee adopts inclusivity guidelines

By Steve Kirby

Following complaints by concerned parents, participants and activist groups, the E. W. Scripps Company has accepted revisions to the National Spelling Bee rulebook to expand the correct spellings of any given word by a startling amount. In a statement, Scripps president Kenneth M. Lowe relayed that the new rules “ensure that all participants feel included in the fun and that all possible spellings are accepted.”

Last year, controversy erupted during a regional bee when Annabelle Maples of Virginia was disqualified for misspelling the word “maneuver.”  Hundreds of gasps rang out when Maples shouted “MANEUVER! M-A-N-O-E-U-V-R-E! MANEUVER!” The panel of judges unanimously decided that the British spelling was not acceptable, and immediately fistfights broke out between Maples, other contestants and Maples’ parents.

An ambassador from the UK, Sir David Curron, lodged an official complaint with Scripps, beginning the long amendment process.

“The language is called English, after all,” he quipped.

During special committee proceedings, several independent experts pointed out that the proper spellings of many words do not exist on a strict binary, and that dividing all spellings into American and English variations is oppressive to Canadians, New Zealanders and Liberians.  After some deliberation, the judges accepted the experts’ suggestions, noting that “the individuality and rights of each participant, and each culture, must be preserved.”

The final amendment reads that “Each speller may, upon delivering their spelling, request that their submission be judged on the Appleton Spelling Spectrum.”  All judges in the Spelling Arbiter’s Society for Spelling were asked to pledge to uphold the new amendment, prompting several judges to resign in protest.

“It is simply ludicrous that M-A-N-O-O-V-R-E and M-U-N-E-U-V-E-R will be accepted as correct spellings,” confided Jay Soren, former associate chief judge. “This is the antithesis of all the Bee stands for.”

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