Rules & Guidelines

Written Contest: The speller will be given 60 seconds to write down the word after a pronouncer has finished pronouncing and defining the word. The speller is not allowed to ask any questions during the session. At the end of the written segment all answer sheets will be scored and the qualifying names of spellers announced.

Role of the Pronouncer: The pronouncer shall attempt to pronounce words according to the diacritical markings in Merriam Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Role of the Speller: During the Oral Contest a speller can ask the pronouncer to:

Repeat the word

Define it

Use it in a sentence

Provide the part of speech

Provide the language(s) of origin

NOTE: The speller can not retract or change any part
of the response once he/she has begun spelling.

Homonyms: If a word has one or more homonyms, the pronouncer indicates which word is to be spelled by defining the word.

If all spellers in a round misspell: If none of the spellers remaining in the spelling bee at the start of a round spells a word correctly during that round, ALL remain in the competition and a new round begins.

If only one speller in a round spells correctly: If only one speller spells correctly in a round, a new one-word round begins and the speller is given an opportunity to spell the next word on the list (anticipated championship word). If the speller succeeds in correctly spelling the anticipated championship word in this one-word round, the speller is declared the champion.

End-of-bee procedure:If a speller misspells the anticipated championship word in a one-word round: A new round begins with ALL the spellers who spelled (correctly and incorrectly) in the previous round. These spellers spell in their original order.

In Round 8 there are three spellers. Speller 12 spells correctly and Spellers 23 and 37 misspell. Round 9—a one-word round—begins, and Speller 12 is offered the anticipated championship word. Speller 12 misspells the anticipated championship word. Round 10 begins and includes Spellers 12, 23, and 37. The rules prescribe that those spellers 12, 23, and 37 spell in their original order; so Speller 12 gets the next word on the list even though Speller 12 misspelled the previous word on the list. Round 10 is not complete until all three spellers have spelled.

Interaction with the speller: Because seeing the speller’s lip movements may be critical in detecting misunderstandings or misspellings, spellers are encouraged to face the judges when pronouncing
and spelling the word.

Notice of rules: The judges ensure that all spellers and audience members are given an opportunity to receive a complete copy of the rules prior to the start of the spelling bee.

Misunderstandings: The judges participate in the exchange of information between the speller and pronouncer if they feel that clarification is needed. Also, the judges listen carefully to the speller’s pronunciation of the word; and, if they sense that the speller has misunderstood the word, the judge’s work with the speller and pronouncer until they are satisfied that reasonable attempts have been made to assist the speller in understanding the word. While the judges are responsible for attempting to detect a speller’s misunderstanding, it is sometimes impossible to detect a misunderstanding until a spelling error has been made. The judges are not ultimately responsible for the speller’s
misunderstanding of a word.

Pronouncer errors: The judges compare the pronouncer’s pronunciation with the diacritical markings in the word list. If the judges feel that the pronouncer’s pronunciation does not match the pronunciation specified in the diacritical markings, the judges direct the pronouncer to correct the error as soon as it is detected.

Disqualifications for reasons other than clear misspelling: The judges will disqualify a speller (1) who refuses a request to start spelling; (2) who does not approach the microphone when it is time to receive the word; (3) who does not comply with the eligibility requirements; (4) who engages in unsportsmanlike conduct; (5) who, in the process of retracing a spelling, alters the letters or sequence of letters from those first uttered; or (6) who, in the process of spelling, utters unintelligible or nonsense sounds.

Speller activities that do not merit disqualification:
The judges may not disqualify a speller (1) for failing to pronounce the word either before or after \ spelling it, (2) for asking a question, or (3) for noting or failing to note the capitalization of a word.

Speller’s role: The speller makes an effort to face the judges and pronounce the word to the judges’ satisfaction both before and after spelling it. The speller, while facing the judges, makes an effort to utter each letter distinctly and with sufficient volume to be understood by the judges. The speller may ask the pronouncer to say the word again, define it, use it in a sentence, provide the part of speech,
provide the language(s) of origin, and/or provide an alternate pronunciation or pronunciations. The speller can not retract his or her letter once they have begun spelling. Once the speller’s questions (as
indicated in Rule 3) have been answered, the speller must begin spelling the word within 60 seconds.

Misunderstandings: The speller is responsible for any misunderstanding of the word unless (1) the pronouncer never provided a correct pronunciation; (2) the pronouncer provided incorrect information regarding the definition, part of speech, or language of origin; or (3) the speller correctly spelled a homonym of the word and the pronouncer failed to either offer a definition or distinguish the homonyms.

Correction of a misspelling: The pronouncer and judges will not ask the speller to correct another speller’s misspelling, even in end-of-bee circumstances.

Misspelling: Upon incorrectly spelling a word, the speller immediately drops out of the competition, except as provided in Rule 5.

Appeals: The speller’s parent(s) or guardian may appeal to the judges for the speller’s reinstatement, provided that the appeal is in compliance with the appeal protocol. The judges render a final decision on the appeal in accordance with the reinstatement protocol.

Appeal protocol: A written appeal must be hand delivered to the designated official (usually the spelling bee coordinator/director). The deadline for delivering an appeal is before the affected speller would have received his/her next word had he/she stayed in the spelling bee; however, to minimize disruptions to the spelling bee, every effort should be made to deliver an appeal by the end of the round in which the speller was eliminated. When five or fewer spellers remain, the written appeal requirement is suspended, and an oral appeal must be made before the speller would have received his/her next word had he/she stayed in the spelling bee. A written appeal must provide: the speller’s name, the word in question, and the reason the speller should be reinstated. While the competition is in session, individuals who have filed appeals may not directly approach the judges unless explicit permission to approach the judges has been given. The judges will contact the speller if they decide to reinstate the speller. To minimize disruption to the pace of the spelling bee and the concentration of the spellers, the judges are under no obligation to stop the spelling bee in order to discuss with the speller’s parent(s), legal guardian, or teacher a denied appeal. The judges’ decisions are final and are subject neither to review nor to reversal by any authority.

Disqualification request: An appeal seeking to dislodge another speller from the spelling bee should be denied.