Friday, May 30, 2014

Indian-Americans Win Spelling Bee ... Again

"American" Kids Can't Spell

From AOL News: For the first time in 52 years, two spellers were declared co-champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday.

Sriram Hathwar of Painted Post, New York, and Ansun Sujoe of Fort Worth, Texas, shared the title after a riveting final-round duel in which they nearly exhausted the 25 designated championship words. After they spelled a dozen words correctly in a row, they both were named champions.

Earlier, 14-year-old Sriram opened the door to an upset by 13-year-old Ansun after he misspelled "corpsbruder," a close comrade. But Ansun was unable to take the title because he got "antegropelos," which means waterproof leggings, wrong.

Sriram entered the final round as the favorite after finishing in third place last year. Ansun just missed the semifinals last year.

They become the fourth co-champions in the bee's 89-year history and the first since 1962.

"The competition was against the dictionary, not against each other," Sriram said after both were showered with confetti onstage. "I'm happy to share this trophy with him."

Sriram backed up his status as the favorite by rarely looking flustered on stage, nodding confidently as he outlasted 10 other spellers to set up the one-on-one duel with Ansun. The younger boy was more nervous and demonstrative, no more so than on the word that gave him a share of the title: "feuilleton," the features section of a European newspaper or magazine.

"Ah, whatever!" Ansun said before beginning to spell the word as the stage lights turned red, signaling that he had 30 seconds left.

Although they hoisted a single trophy together onstage, each will get one to take home, and each gets the champion's haul of more than $33,000 in cash and prizes.

Gokul Venkatachalam of Chesterfield, Missouri, finished third, and Ashwin Veeramani of North Royalton, Ohio, was fourth.

Both champions are Indian-American. The past eight winners and 13 of the past 17 have been of Indian descent, a run that began in 1999 after Nupur Lala's victory, which was later featured in the documentary "Spellbound."


Anonymous said...

Please define what it means to be "American" for all of us idiots...

Anonymous said...

These kids are as 'American' as anyone. The difference is the upbringing they are getting, the attitudes of their parents, the respect for learning and success they are being taught. They are expected to be successful in whatever they do and they are not coddled and 'helicoptered'.

SCATS said...

To 8:25AM ~~ First of all, I don't like name-calling, but in this case I'm letting it stand since you referred to yourself.

Secondly, I don't waste my time trying to explain anything to someone who just told me he/she isn't capable of comprehending.

To 10:35AM ~~ I will bet breakfast these students are raised in homes where ENGLISH IS THEIR SECOND LANGUAGE. At GCSD we can't even graduate students who want to be a mechanic with the ability to spell 'mechanic'!! I've seen the resumes to prove it.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you missed the fact that 8:25's comment is oozing with sarcasm?

But please do go on, I'd love to hear you try and explain what it means to be "American"!

Please tell me how somebody that was born and raised in the United States of America is un-American or even less American than yourself (I'm also assuming that you come from a family that immigrated to the United States at one point in time). Explain how somebody that may still partake and practice elements of their own culture or someone that knows how to speak their native language is less American than you or I!

SCATS said...

To 10:59AM ~~ Did YOU author 8:25AM's comment? If not then by all means tell us how you knew it was sarcastic. I missed the words that should have clued me in ;)

PS ~~ Take a look back at the BLOG. See the quotation marks? There's YOUR clue to the answer to your question.

Anonymous said...

sorry Scats, I also saw sarcasm in 8:25's post. Apparently is went over your head.

Anonymous said...

1059 is not the only one who saw 8:25's comment as tongue and cheek sarcasim. I read it that way too. The clue, American in quotes and the reference to Idiots in the generalist of terms and not singular as you took it and then authored the usual sarcastic shot of your own in his or her direction.

SCATS said...

To 3:24PM & 6:17PM ~~ Congrats!! You represent less than 1% of the people who have read this thread lol

Anonymous said...

How do you know "American" kids can't spell? Since you still haven't defined what you meant by the use of that adjective I can propose a couple possibilities. Perhaps you meant white, but based on your 10:42 comment I could also guess you meant monolingual. Why do you associate monolingualism with being American? Statistically you are right, most Americans are monolingual, but the comment seems blatantly exclusionary to Americans who are multilingual. From your comments you seem to have experience with specific American students who don't spell well, but generalizing such experience to all "American" youths seems disingenuous. Additionally your proposition that past spelling bee winners come from homes where ENGLISH IS THEIR SECOND LANGUAGE is likely false. Children of immigrants are overwhelmingly English dominant speakers. There may be other languages spoken in the home, but those are the second languages, not English. Generally immigrant family home languages are completely overtaken by English by the third generation unless the families live in a densely settled area of people speaking the same tongue. In any case, congratulations to the two fine American students who won this year's spelling bee - one is even a New Yorker!

SCATS said...

To 10:14PM ~~ According to Merriam-Webster, the word you needed was monolingual. They do not recognize monolingualism :

It's apparent from your voluminous comment that you 'think' you know what you are talking about. From personal experiences, you don't.

As but one example, your claim that "Children of immigrants are overwhelmingly English dominant speakers." Take a stroll through the new West Ridge school some afternoon. Talk to the teachers. Talk to their students from the apt. complex next door. It will be an eye-opening experience for you.

Re: "There may be other languages spoken in the home, but those are the second languages, not English" Please call an 800 number and listen for the command to "Press 1 for English."

Re: Past spelling bee winners, the article itself stated that: "The past eight winners and 13 of the past 17 have been of Indian descent." In fact, the top 4 were all from India this year.

Like many from the Middle East or Asia, Indian families cling to their culture once settled in this country. Their children learn English, just as their parents learned English in India(it's taught widely in school throughout Asia & the Far East), but it is NOT their first language.

In comparison, Americans are rather well known for their resistance to learning foreign languages. How many do you speak?

Anonymous said...

Scats the more appropriate remark would be we represent the 1% who read this blog and actually bother to comment. Others just read it and take comments posted here for what ever worth they choose to give it or for purely " recreational" reading, nothing more.

Anonymous said...

Kitty cat. Say it ain't true! Tell us that your position does not paint you as somewhat bigoted against immigrant Americans. Perhaps your ancestors came over on the Mayflower .Wake up, it's a new America . BTW check out directions on certain products such as medicines, toxic products They also are printed in German and French in many instances .

Anonymous said...

The real issue is our educational system DOES NOT CARE if kids can spell correctly. This has been going on in our classrooms for 20 years. The mantra is 'we don't want to hurt the kid's self esteem." Bull crap! Teach our kids how to freakin spell correctly. Take your little red pen and mark the kids paper up for each misspelled word. Oh, wait.......teachers won't use red pens anymore to correct mistakes because it might hurt little Johnny's self esteem. So we graduate a bunch of dumb asses that cannot spell and as of late cannot even write their name in cursive. And our educational system wonders why us taxpayers are pissed........

People who come here from another country make sure their kids won't be made into another dumb ass graduate. I do not understand why parents do not demand more!

SCATS said...

To 6:26AM ~~ While you are entitled to your OPINION, it is NOT THE REALITY :)

In fact, I can tell you for certain that this BLOG is used by others as part of their research into job applicants, lawsuits, political campaigns & other interests. We have access through to show it.

To 6:50AM ~~ If anything, I'm "bigoted" against the "average American" whose ancestors landed in the Land of Plenty so long ago they became complacent about ensuring their young get adequate education.

To 6:52AM ~~ B-I-N-G-O !! I thought no one would EVER say it! I could not agree more with your observation. I would add that in the last 5-10 years, it appears the TEACHERS often don't spell very well either. They can't teach it effectively, if they don't model it themselves.

Anonymous said...

Scats; this is one a the few times that I find myself somewhat supportive if your position.

I agree that a growing percentage of our school age kids are somewhat at a disadvantage when it comes to learning the English Language. The reason are many but the most telling reason is the fact that their parents find it easier to communicate in their native tongue at home. And since they as parents do not have a good working command of the English language themselves. This makes it easier and sometimes necessary to teach their own language prior to their children entering school and introduced to English. For some of these kids, it's another world altogether for them and adjustments are difficult at best. One obvious problem that continues to enable this to continue is, "Political Correctiveness" of today's society as opposed to the way it used to be when my parents immigrated to this country in the early 1900's.

Then, immigrants were eager to learn or language and customs, while never forgetting their native roots. Such was the case in my family. My parents who attended Night School to learn our language. At the time it was a necessity to becoming a Citizen of the United States.
I distinctly recall that when I was growing up at home, only English was spoken in our house . The only time their native tongue was spoken, was when they didn't want my brother and me to understand what was being said.

Sadly, times have changed. The old ways are just that no gone forever.New arrivals to this country refuse to grasp our long held tradition and values opting instead to maintain their old world culture and customs. Unfortunately for this country, our leaders in our society have accommodated that attitude by including their language as a component of our society by including their language to be used to fulfill their needs without adjusting to what used to be the norms in this country as my forebears eagerly did.


SCATS said...

To 10:52AM ~~ In general, I tend to agree with much of what you say, but the reality is that those who immigrate from certain cultures tend to value education AND learning English more than some from other cultures (including "Americans"). Partially, this might be due to the fact that SOME countries REQUIRE their students to learn English from a young age. (In this country, we do NOT value that.) It is viewed as one way to elevate their status (and even their potential economic position)among their own, especially when it comes time to attend college or pursue a career.

Today, we've made it relatively easy for some to immigrate to THE USA without needing to assimilate once here. I believe we offer that written driving test in Spanish. Oddly, many Indians attempt to keep their culture, values, customs alive by resisting assimilation and living in communities with high populations of other Indians, AND at the same time still win the damned Spelling Bee. They value learning English, they value learning it well and they value education in general.

I recall a overhearing a conversation at a used book sale a number of years ago. An Asian fellow was buying an old set of encyclopedias for $10. He had his 3-4 yr. old daughter with him. He told her that when they got home she would get to help him find pictures of animals to cut out and paste on a bigger paper. Then they would learn about that animal's habits and the name it has in both English and Chinese. Based on his eager talk, he considered that to be a playtime activity for parent/child in that home.

Anonymous said...

A recommended read on this very topic is a book by Pat Buchanan in 2001 entitled " The Death of the West". Very controversial at the time and still is today.
In his book, Buchanan states that dying populations in our country along with the " invasion " of immigrants from third world countries will lead to the death of our Western civilization in America
He makes some interesting points about changes in our long held system of education and American history as well as our Christian faith.

Anonymous said...

SCATS - I speak four languages currently. I don't "think" I know what I am talking about - I do know what I am talking about. You base your comments on a vague notion of personal experience. Mine are based on research and real world application. I am very familiar with the students and families from the complex next to Westridge. I can guarantee with almost 100% certainty that every student from a family that speaks another language at Westridge or anywhere else will learn English better than their parents (assuming the parents are first generation immigrants) and will speak their heritage language less fluently than their parents by the time they reach adulthood. I can also extrapolate that most of the children of these current students will likely lose the heritage language of their grandparents and parent due to intermarriage and the dominance of English here. You seem to have some kind of problem with the fact that you have to press 1 for English on the phone - do you advocate for English being the only allowed language in this country? I don't. Additionally English is widely taught everywhere, not just in "Asia and the Far East" - a confusing use of the conjunction "and" since the "Far East" is part of Asia. You also seem to think that the top 4 finishers at this year's spelling bee were "all from India." In fact, they were Indian-Americans from New York, Texas, Missouri, and Ohio, which is an important distinction. I would agree that Americans in general are resistant to learning other languages. I would attribute this to ignorance, "Ammurrican-ism", and the fact that since most of the rest of the world produces a good number of English speakers through their education systems Americans can generally get by speaking English overseas. The relative lack of bilingual programs in the US along with the late age at which we begin foreign language education makes this unavoidable unfortunately. I could write more but I am going out. Enjoy.

SCATS said...

To 4:05PM ~~ I'm not sure that I'd go that far. Many seek out a Western lifestyle.

To 4:17PM ~~ Just because you speak 4 languages doesn't make you any more an authority on this topic than someone like me with personal experiences. How many people have you lived with from other countries? I've lived with people from about 2 dozen different countries. How long have you lived in a home with a family in another country? I've done this several times in different locales for as long as 4 weeks.

How many countries have you visited where you were invited in to share a meal with a family? Again, I've been there & done it during my travels & education.

Yes, I resent having to "Press 1 for English." Instead, the command should be "Press 2 for Spanish" stated in Spanish. That has NOTHING to do with wanting "English to be the only allowed language in this country." Instead, it has to do with not providing the IMPETUS for others to learn to speak OUR language. Typically, the French won't be very helpful to you UNLESS you attempt to speak French, even when you know they are fluent in English. It might be they are onto something worthwhile.

Also, this isn't about whether the students learn to speak English better than their parents. I agree that in the situation you describe, they likely will. That still does NOT necessarily make English their first language.

Americans are just plain lazy & arrogant when it comes to the topic of language. We EXPECT others to learn English, even in business settings.

As for the spelling bee participants, they may reside in various states now, but that doesn't mean they learned English first, nor does it mean they were born here. Of course, I meant they are ALL of Indian descent and thought someone as smart as you would know that. Mea culpa.

Anonymous said...

When I was growing up I appreciated the fact that my parents spoke English and spoke it well. My father spoke English as a second language and spoke it without accent or without difficulty. I never had any difficult in English grammar classes because I had good examples at home. What do we fear from those who speak English as a second language? As a country, we have learned a lot and benefited much from those who grew up in a non-English speaking home. Why would someone who can master the speaking and spelling on English cause such a vile response?

SCATS said...

To 8:39PM ~~ You better reread if you are calling my comment a "vile response." Aside from the last couple of sentences aimed at someone who thought speaking 4 languages made him/her an authority on my previous statements, I'm AGREEING with you! lol

PS ~~ It seems as if you've lost your edge over time ;)