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THE NATION

He Has a Way With Words

Anurag Kashyap, a 13-year-old from Poway in San Diego County, captures the national spelling bee.

June 03, 2005|Susana Enriquez | Times Staff Writer

After two days of competition, 13-year-old Anurag Kashyap had the last word -- "appoggiatura."

The Southern California teenager outspelled 272 competitors from around the country to win the 78th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington.

"It still hasn't sunk in that I'm a national champion," said Kashyap, an eighth-grader and straight-A student at Meadowbrook Middle School in Poway in San Diego County.

After 19 rounds of spelling words like "sphygmomanometer" (an instrument used to measure blood pressure) and "ceraunograph" (a device for recording thunder and lightning), Kashyap won $22,000 in cash, a $5,000 college scholarship, a $1,000 U.S. savings bond and reference materials.

In a telephone interview from Washington, Kashyap said he planned to use the money for college. He wants to be a computer engineer.

Kashyap said he studied for months, reviewing lists of words and being quizzed repeatedly by friends and a teacher. Even so, he encountered words that made him think twice.

When he got "priscilla" (a type of ruffled curtain) in the third round, he was nervous because it hadn't been on any lists. He spelled it right anyway.

In the eighth round, he was unsure whether the second letter in "pompier" (a term used to describe a work of art that is common and pretentious) was an "o" or an "a." He guessed right.

He was rattled in the 12th round when he got a word he didn't know -- "ornithorhynchous" (having a beak like a bird).

"I figured it out," he said.

Then, in the 18th round, his last two opponents misspelled their words: "trouvaille" (a discovery of interest or value) and "roscian" (to be skilled in acting).

"I was really excited and nervous because I knew that if I got the word right, I would be the champion," Kashyap said.

Once he heard "appoggiatura," he saw it in his mind right away, but asked for clarification anyway. Spellers are allowed to ask for a word's origin, definition, pronunciation, part of speech and use in a sentence. An appoggiatura is an embellishing note in music.

"I just repeated it how I visualized it," he said.

It was Kashyap's second trip to the national spelling bee. Last year he tied for 47th.

Paige P. Kimble, the spelling bee's director, said a good indicator of the competitive level of the event was the 25-word written test given in the first round.

In the last three years, she said, there were two perfect scores. This year there were seven, and Kashyap had one.

"The words are more difficult than they have ever been," Kimble said. "The competitive level is rising, and the need for challenging words is greater."

Kimble knows. She was the 1981 champion. Her winning word? "Sarcophagus."

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Letter perfect

The words Anurag Kashyap spelled correctly to win the 2005 Scripps National Spelling Bee:

cabochon

priscilla

oligopsony

sphygmomanometer

prosciutto

rideau

pompier

terete

tristachyous

schefflera

ornithorhynchous

agio

agnolotti

peccavi

ceraunograph

exsiccosis

hodiernal

appoggiatura

Source: spellingbee.com

Los Angeles Times

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