Sunday, November 02, 2008

Spelling Bee

For those wishing to test their spelling chops, The Visual Thesaurus has developed a spelling bee. Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus, writes,
"The reason why it’s so addictive is that it’s been designed to be adaptive, so the more words that are spelled correctly, the more difficult the words become. And conversely, if you’re not a great speller, the words will get easier and easier. That way a player will always be quizzed at the appropriate skill level — from the orthographically challenged to the most expert spellers. As more and more players try the Bee, the game has steadily improved based on data collected on how words are spelled. Words are being continuously reanalyzed for difficulty based on how spellers fare. Every five minutes, words are rescored for difficulty taking into account the latest data from the Bee spellers. That means there’s an increasingly better fit to different skill levels. "
I ran into a number of problems: First of all, the sound wouldn't play when I used Firefox 3.0.3 on my Mac, but Safari was fine. Once I had overcome the sound problems, I occasionally found a consonant was unclear; no matter how hard I try, I still hear a /p/ at the beginning of bloviate. Other similar problems were /f/ and /s/ sounding the same. Sometimes I knew a word, but the pronunication threw me. Other times, two words were homophonous (e.g., buckle & buccal) and I went for the wrong one.

My score seemed to plateau at 620.

1 comment:

GAC said...

I had some similar problems -- wouldn't work on Chrome (not a surprise), but it's fine for Firefox (I'm on a Vista machine).

Not only are the pronunciations unclear (making me guess "g" for "d" in one place), but there seem to be some odd pronunciations on top of it. Maybe I'm wierd, but everyone I've ever heard say it produces gibber as something akin to [dʒɪbər]. [gɪpər] seems to hearken to Samwise Gamgee's "gaffer" (I think I remember that right).