Bangalore man clinches
Guinness record for spelling
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Bangalore: Spelling the word 'Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia'
could stump many, but not 25-year-old Guinness Book record holder Shishir
Hathwar, who can not only do it without batting an eyelid but in the reverse
order as well.
It is not just this word (which means fear of long words) but a number of others
including 'grotesqueness' which he can rattle off.
Bangalore-based Hatwar, an electronics engineer in BHEL, clinched the world
record this week for the "fastest backwards spelling of 50 words" in one minute
22.53 seconds, beating the record of Job Pottas from Kerala who clocked one
minute 40.14 seconds in March 2010.
The earlier record was held by Deborah Prebble from UK (two min 21 seconds).
Shishir won by a comfortable margin of over 17 seconds when he spelt 50 randomly
chosen words, including 20 six letter word, 15-seven letter words and 15-eight
The time included that taken by a person to read out the words and spell it
backward. "I took just 1.6 seconds per word including the time taken to read out
the word", said Shishir, who was asked to spell out words chosen from a variety
of fields, including literature, arts and science.
The words he spelt out backwards during the event included 'desolate', 'lavish',
'pharynx', 'excavate' and 'fragrant.'
A voracious reader, Shishir attributes his success to the environment provided
by his parents, his reading habit and out of the box thinking. "Honing
visualisation techniques to an extreme degree also aided in training his mind to
achieve the goal.
Asked how he felt about the record, he said "Exultant, considering that English
is not my mother tongue". Shishir can also read and write Kannada, Hindi and
Sanskrit and speak Tulu.
It was a You Tube clip of Pottas breaking the record that got him started on the
idea he could attempt a similar feat.
Shishir says he also reads books by Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Charles Dickens
and Bertrand Russell. Apart from reading, he revels in outdoor activities like
trekking and swimming. He in fact completed the 21.1 km half marathon in
December 2005 in 98 minutes.
He disapproves the current SMS lingo and short spellings, saying, "It is
mutilating the sublime beauty of language."
Ask him about the most mis-spelt words, Shishir says, "It is words where 'i' is
contiguous with 'e' like shriek, receive".
Shishir's advice to the young who struggle with spellings is "Take to reading
instead of video gaming".
Shishir said he was aware of his talent to spell backwards at a young age and
held several speechless when he spelt words backward as well as six word
Not content with the laurels won, the spelling champion is now out to conquer
new records like speaking three syllable words backward and being able to spell
the maximum number of words backward in a minute.
The son of Dr Ramamurthy, a senior scientist of Centre for Artificial
Intelligence and Robotics, DRDO, he says spellings have never flummoxed him and
there is no spelling which can leave him tongue tied.
He spells words incredibly and rattles off the 45 lettered longest word 'Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosisin'
in the English dictionary in a jiffy.
"Words like Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia (35) and
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (34) are those I am capable of spelling or
pronouncing either in the forward or backward direction," he said.
His amazing ability comes to the fore when he says "Where are you from?" -
pronounced backwards as "Morf uoy era erehw".
"What is your name?" is again rattled off as "Eman ruoy si tahw".
His plans to break another record backward would be a quite a skill test, he
"The record for the most words spoken backwards in one minute is 71 and was
achieved by Nada Bojkovic (Sweden) at Nordstan Shopping Mall in Gothenburg,
Sweden on November 24, 2007.