How long did it take for organizers of a Spanish spelling bee to run out of words for the last two contestants? An hour and a half. The finalists of last Saturday’s National Spanish Spelling Bee had a showdown that lasted 53 rounds before the judges ran out of words and declared both of them as winners of the competition, reports NBC Latino. Judith Villa, a fifth grader from Anthony, N.M. and Joana Fernandez, an eight-grader from Rio Rancho, N.M., spelled words like unguiculado (meaning “unguiculate”), cabizcaído (“downhearted”), and vehementemente (“vehemently”) before tying for first place.
The Santillana National Spanish Spelling Bee, hosted by the National Hispanic Cultural Center, is open to fourth through eighth-grade students whose first language is Spanish or who are learning the language. Nineteen students participated this year.
In general, Spanish words are relatively easier to spell than English ones because vowels are pronounced the same way, no matter where they are in the word, and also because groups of letters almost always produce the same sounds. Even so, spelling in Spanish can be tricky because of diacritical marks that are used to indicate different pronunciations.