EDITORIAL – Today’s lesson: How to spell ‘KAABOO’

KAABOO Cayman is offering local bands the chance to play for crowds like this.

The “Big Mo,” meaning momentum, is beginning to build for KAABOO Cayman, even though the first acts for the music and entertainment festival won’t take to the stage until February 2019. Today’s front page includes a story that Digicel Cayman has signed on as a major sponsor and partner in the project, and more private sector companies are expected soon to be adding their branding and support to this international event.

While there are obviously enormous logistical challenges in organizing a songfest of this magnitude, apparently there are linguistic ones as well. We refer, of course, to the spelling of “KAABOO.”

How challenging can it be? “KAABOO” contains only six letters (two consonants and four vowels). It is a simple duo-syllabic neologism. (Note the preferred usage is ALL CAPS.)

And yet, we have seen the festival referred to as KABOO and Kaboom (predictable guesses), but Kaibo, KARoo, Kazoo, Kabob and Caboodle?

As always, the Compass is here to assist. We are proud to have as our executive editor a super-speller named Patrick Brendel who has battled it out on the stage of the U.S. Scripps National Spelling Bee, an annual event televised from near Washington, D.C.

Brendel did well, and we can report that he unquestionably is one of the top spellers in America. (To prove it was not a fluke, Brendel repeated his performance the following year. And so, if you spot a misspelling in the Compass, blame it on Brendel. We do.)

Therefore, we are pleased to present some advice from our in-house expert on how to tackle any new or unfamiliar word, especially if you happen to find yourself on stage, under competitive pressure, on a timer, with television lights glaring in your eyes:

“In competitive spelling,” says Brendel, “it is not unusual for a contestant to be given a word they are unsure of or have never heard of in their life.

“If you happen to be watching the U.S. National Spelling Bee on television and see a contestant with a blank look on his or her face, they are most likely panicking or pondering their options.

“Contestants are allowed to ask about the following to get a better idea of how an unfamiliar word may be spelled: Alternate pronunciations, definitions and alternate definitions, parts of speech, usage in a sentence, language of origin, and whether or not the word contains a specific linguistic root.

“For example: Is the root of the word ‘KAABOO’ the Carib word ‘kapu,’ meaning sky?

“Sometimes, asking several questions about a word constitutes a stalling tactic while the contestant’s mind flails around for some possible spelling. In the National Spelling Bee, a contestant’s time to spell a word is only two minutes, leaving ONLY one final resort: Guess. As hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, ‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.’”

Obviously, bloggers and speakers and even some journalists have been guessing when challenged to spell “KAABOO.” The problem is that far too often, they’re guessing wrong.

Here’s what to do: If a word is not in the dictionary, (and most certainly KAABOO is not), locate an authoritative source, such as kaaboocayman.com, study the word, memorize its spelling, and then use it with confidence forevermore.

And mark your calendars: We will be having a KAABOO quiz first thing tomorrow morning …

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now