Former Champion Speller Grows Up to Become the Official Word Pronouncer For Scripps Spelling Bee

In an interview somewhat reminiscent of the 73 Questions series, Great Big Story visited with Dr. Jacques Bailly, a foremost expert phonologist, and tossed out random words from the dictionary for him to pronounce. Dr. Bailly, who has acted as the Official Word Pronouncer for the iconic Scripps National Spelling Bee since 2003, has a long history with Scripps, having won the contest himself in 1980.

Before Jacques days as the world’s foremost pronouncer of persnickety words, he began a spelling career on the other side of the microphone. Jacques was a competitive speller and in 1980 he found himself in the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Spelling Bee. His word” Elucubrate, …and it means to burn the midnight oil, to study all night. And with those ten letters Jacques became a champion.

In 2016, Dr. Bailly sat down with reporter Soledad O’Brien for a Real Sports interview.