Additional speller brings Semifinal total to 42

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is announcing the addition of another speller to the pool of Semifinalists.

Nikitha
Chandran
(Speller 44), an eighth grader from St. Petersburg, Fla., will
advance to the Semifinals. This brings the total number of spellers who
will compete in Thursday's Semifinals
to 42.

Two
words on the Preliminaries computer test had alternate spellings in
addition to those initially accepted by the Bee. Those spellings appear
in the Bee's official dictionary,
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary,
and are acceptable spellings of the words.

At
the Semifinals announcement, the Bee was aware of two of those
alternate spellings -- "aurox" for "aurochs," an extinct cattle, and
"viricide" for "virucide," an agent that detects viruses.

A
third alternate spelling, "viruscide," was also judged to be
acceptable. The third spelling was brought to the Bee's attention by
spellers and their parents. The Bee immediately responded
by checking the spelling and researching it.

"There
are many, many words in the Bee's official dictionary that have
alternative spellings and variants," said Paige Kimble, the executive
director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
"We're happy to accept alternate spellings and variants if they meet
the correct spelling in our rules. Our officials reviewed the possible
alternatives and determined that both variations of 'virucide' met the
criteria."

Nikitha
and other spellers incorrectly had "viruscide" marked as an error on
their test. Only Nikitha had enough points that the inclusion of
"viruscide" elevated her into the Semifinals.
The cutoff for the Semifinals is 32 points.

Nikitha's
family has been notified and she is participating in the computer-based
Semifinal vocabulary and spelling exam. She also will participate in
the on-stage spelling tomorrow.

This is Nikitha's second trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

"Integrity is of utmost importance to the Bee. So is fairness," said Kimble. "Our rules do provide for alternate spellings."

The complete list of Semifinalists is available here.