Jacques Bailly, a Spelling Bee Stalwart, Returns to Read the Words

3 weeks ago 11

U.S.|Who reads the spelling bee words?


July 8, 2021, 9:11 p.m. ET

July 8, 2021, 9:11 p.m. ET

The longtime pronouncer Jacques Bailly speechmaking  a connection     during the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee astatine  National Harbor successful  Oxon Hill, Md.
Credit...Erik S Lesser/EPA, via Shutterstock

Judging by his résumé, Jacques A. Bailly is eminently qualified to service arsenic the authoritative pronouncer of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, a occupation helium has held since 2003.

He won the bee successful 1980 erstwhile helium was 14. He received a Ph.D. from Cornell University successful past doctrine and wrote a dissertation connected a pseudo-Platonic dialog called the Theages.

He is a prof of Greek and Latin astatine the University of Vermont and teaches courses connected Plato, Aristotle and etymology. He said helium is present learning Old Norse and Sanskrit and likes to plot and “hoard wood.”

But asked however helium got the occupation astatine the bee, helium said simply: “because they asked me.”

Dr. Jacques Bailly has go a fixture astatine the Bee arsenic our pronouncer. This is his 18th twelvemonth successful this relation and his 12th twelvemonth arsenic subordinate pronouncer. His past with the Bee goes backmost further than that though. He was the 1980 #SpellingBee champion! 🏆 #TheBeeIsBack pic.twitter.com/7nT4ESRZYg

— Scripps National Spelling Bee (@ScrippsBee) June 28, 2021

Professor Bailly, 55, who projects a calm demeanor onstage and speaks successful an even, avuncular tone, shuns showmanship and crippled amusement antics.

He said helium understands that the bee is arsenic overmuch a media and nationalist relations lawsuit arsenic it is simply a spelling competition, but helium believes that the spellers should besides debar trying to go the halfway of attention.

“They aren’t up determination to act,” helium said.

Even successful the look of the astir adorable speller, Professor Bailly remains collected. He ne'er patronizes. He ne'er coos.

When a speller sing-songed, “Howdy, Dr. Bailly,” during the 2016 spelling bee, the pronouncer did not instrumentality the bait.

“Howdy, Alex,” Professor Bailly replied successful a dependable voice.

He said helium does not interest astir the semipermanent effects of losing connected the children.

“I recognize that they deliberation it’s tremendously important and they mightiness outcry and each that,” Professor Bailly said. “But I don’t deliberation successful the agelong tally that this is going to wounded them. I don’t spot immoderate cruelty. I don’t spot immoderate meanness.”

As for the winner, triumph should not consciousness similar specified a seminal event, said Professor Bailly, who has a son, 17, and a daughter, 19.

The winners “are typical of the different spellers who worked truly hard,” helium said. “Every azygous 1 of them that I’ve ever talked to has a precise beardown consciousness of humility and said it could person been anyone else.”

When helium competed, helium recalled however blistery and exhausted helium felt onstage and “the feeling, arsenic each connection was given, of ‘oh, I cognize that’ oregon ‘thank goodness I didn’t get that word.’”

When helium won, helium was relieved that it was yet over.

“I could yet bash thing different than beryllium determination successful the blistery TV lights,” helium said.

Professor Bailly, who pronounced for the Canwest Canspell Canadian National Spelling Bee “until its unfortunate demise,” and for the Korean National Spelling Bee, said helium plans to pronounce for the Scripps indefinitely.

He said: “I volition bash it arsenic agelong arsenic they support asking me.”

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