Some words, called onomatopoeia, originated as an imitation of natural sounds—in fact, some linguists have developed a theory (sometimes known as the "bow-wow theory") that this is how all spoken language began. There are onomatopoeia in every language.
Arvind Mahankali (Speller 163) has finished third in each of the last two Bees. He's gotten out each time on a German word.
So far, at least, he's beaten it. Arvind, a New York eighth grader, spelled "dehnstufe" properly.
He acknowledged the German though, shrugging and throwing up his hands when it was read.
"Of course," he said.
Despite his past success, Arvind said before the finals that he wasn't sure he could make it.
"Right now, it's just fun," he said.