Constantinople. Spelled C-O-N-S-T-A-N-T-I-N-O-P-L-E. Constantinople.


Watching The Great Australian Spelling Bee with all those children spelling out words reminded me of this word and my struggles with spelling.

“This word was my greatest challenge, I had to master it. It was my Everest.”

When I was in Year 3, approx 8 years of age, I had a lot trouble with spelling. What I clearly remember is the feeling that everyone else seemed to find it easy and I didn’t. We were given a page each week with 15 spaces and any words we didn’t spell correctly in our work we had to write down and¬†practice writing them out all the next week. If there were any spaces you could choose your own words. Well, I wanted a free space so I could practice and beat the ultimate word – Constantinople.


I don’t know why this word was the ultimate test to prove my spelling ability but it was.

Finally my time came, I had an empty space and my chance to conquer this word. I wrote it out every night and then on Friday’s spelling test … I spelled it WRONG!

Next thing I know my Mum and I are called in to “talk” to the teacher. She said that the word was ‘too hard’ and I needed to ‘choose easier words’. Sigh.

So of course I didn’t and the following week I triumphed! My excitement wasn’t even dampened by the fact that city is called ‘Istanbul’ and had been since the 1920s. I won! And look at me now, a copy editor and proofreader!

It’s funny what memories a word can hold.

So my new challenge – New Delhi. When I do crosswords and this is the answer I always have to double-check – is it Delhi or Dehli? I can never remember.

new delhi

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