Discussion of pronunciation guides

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Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Cody » Mon Jun 01, 2015 2:59 pm

Cheynem wrote:As a moderator, I thought the pronunciation guides in this set were out of control. There were literally almost three or four guides every tossup at times, and this was very, very distracting when trying to read questions. There were also guides for words that I would imagine for most quizbowlers were relatively common, let's say "Gauss" or "Hermes." Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you're an idiot if you don't know how to pronounce those words, but there were plenty of words that didn't get guides of equal potential difficulty. For the purposes of clarity and space, I think it would be nicer to save guides for only uncommon quizbowl words, especially at a national tournament when the vast majority of readers have experience reading.
This was my biggest complaint as a moderator. The pronunciation guides frequently made it difficult to find punctuation, throwing off my cadence, and were in general an annoyance rather than helpful.
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Re: 2015 NAQT HSNCT: Congratulations Arcadia!

Post by jonah » Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:19 pm

Cheynem wrote:As a moderator, I thought the pronunciation guides in this set were out of control. There were literally almost three or four guides every tossup at times, and this was very, very distracting when trying to read questions. There were also guides for words that I would imagine for most quizbowlers were relatively common, let's say "Gauss" or "Hermes." Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you're an idiot if you don't know how to pronounce those words, but there were plenty of words that didn't get guides of equal potential difficulty. For the purposes of clarity and space, I think it would be nicer to save guides for only uncommon quizbowl words, especially at a national tournament when the vast majority of readers have experience reading.
For what it's worth, the average number of pronunciation guides per question was 1.52 (excluding PGs in answer lines, since I would not expect those to upset your cadence). I'm sorry to hear you didn't find them useful.
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Re: 2015 NAQT HSNCT: Congratulations Arcadia!

Post by theMoMA » Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:20 pm

I definitely understand the frustration with pronunciation guides; I also find it annoying when I lose punctuation or words in a forest of PGs. But do understand that they are very helpful to a wide swath of readers (perhaps less so at HSNCT, but even then, my understanding is that there's a big (and largely silent) chunk of readers that appreciate them).

I have suggested that pronunciation guides be printed with light grey backgrounds to better allow people to see punctuation. I did this for the very few PGs I inserted into CO last year, and it was well received. An example of what an HSNCT-length tossup might look like with them is below (example taken from NAQT's sample packet from IS #116 and formatted in Word):

Image

I find it much easier for my eye to skip over PGs I don't want to see when they're shaded like above (and I hope it's not just me, otherwise this would be a truly quixotic pursuit). Perhaps this would help walk the line between adding PGs for the people who appreciate them and allowing those who might get tripped up by lots of PGs to better skip over them as they choose. If this is technologically feasible to implement, would this shading be something that people might find useful?
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Re: 2015 NAQT HSNCT: Congratulations Arcadia!

Post by Eddie » Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:41 pm

theMoMA wrote:I definitely understand the frustration with pronunciation guides; I also find it annoying when I lose punctuation or words in a forest of PGs. But do understand that they are very helpful to a wide swath of readers (perhaps less so at HSNCT, but even then, my understanding is that there's a big (and largely silent) chunk of readers that appreciate them).

I have suggested that pronunciation guides be printed with light grey backgrounds to better allow people to see punctuation. I did this for the very few PGs I inserted into CO last year, and it was well received. An example of what an HSNCT-length tossup might look like with them is below (example taken from NAQT's sample packet from IS #116 and formatted in Word):

Image

I find it much easier for my eye to skip over PGs I don't want to see when they're shaded like above (and I hope it's not just me, otherwise this would be a truly quixotic pursuit). Perhaps this would help walk the line between adding PGs for the people who appreciate them and allowing those who might get tripped up by lots of PGs to better skip over them as they choose. If this is technologically feasible to implement, would this shading be something that people might find useful?
I found the grey backgrounds in some of the previous sets this year to be ENORMOUSLY helpful as a reader. There was also a TU in DEES that had a couple of names in red text with an editor's note to mentally pronounce those before hand.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by etchdulac » Mon Jun 01, 2015 4:08 pm

theMoMA wrote:I have suggested that pronunciation guides be printed with light grey backgrounds to better allow people to see punctuation. ... I find it much easier for my eye to skip over PGs I don't want to see when they're shaded like above (and I hope it's not just me, otherwise this would be a truly quixotic pursuit).
Just chiming in to add support for implementing this significant, seemingly simple change to aid readers.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by the return of AHAN » Mon Jun 01, 2015 4:40 pm

etchdulac wrote:
theMoMA wrote:I have suggested that pronunciation guides be printed with light grey backgrounds to better allow people to see punctuation. ... I find it much easier for my eye to skip over PGs I don't want to see when they're shaded like above (and I hope it's not just me, otherwise this would be a truly quixotic pursuit).
Just chiming in to add support for implementing this significant, seemingly simple change to aid readers.
+1. Every now and then, I internally cringed when my reading jumped over a pronunciation guide, only to see a punctuation mark that I wasn't planning for. That is, my inflection that would indicate I was at the end of a sentence wasn't there.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Jun 01, 2015 8:13 pm

I am in favor of the light grey pronunciation guide suggestion; NHBB uses bolded text within parentheses to achieve a similar separating purpose.

Beyond being confusing, it is also the case that pronunciation guides are often wrong. It is a total waste of effort to put in a "best-guess" pronunciation guide which actually makes it less likely that the word will be properly pronounced.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Mon Jun 01, 2015 8:16 pm

I strongly agree that whether it be a shaded background or colored text, some distinguishing feature of pronunciation guides would be very helpful, since I too was thrown off by punctuation issues with them (and, like Mike, felt there were annoyingly many this year).

I also wish there was some consistency about where pronunciation guides go for multi-part names or words. I noticed this in one question that I now don't remember, but I'll make up an example - let's say you decide to include a guide for Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A pronunciation guide like [Gar-SEE-uh Marr-KEZ] is actively unhelpful, since if I think that it's an unfamiliar name and just read the guide, or I think the guide is just for the last word. Please pick Gabriel Garcia [Gar-SEE-uh] Marquez [Marr-KEZ] or Gabriel Garciz Marquez [Gah-bree-ell Gar-SEE-uh Marr-KEZ] and use that consistently.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by the return of AHAN » Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:19 pm

Steeve Ho You Fat wrote:.... A pronunciation guide like [Gar-SEE-uh Marr-KEZ] is actively unhelpful, since if I think that it's an unfamiliar name and just read the guide, or I think the guide is just for the last word. Please pick Gabriel Garcia [Gar-SEE-uh] Marquez [Marr-KEZ] or Gabriel Garciz Marquez [Gah-bree-ell Gar-SEE-uh Marr-KEZ] and use that consistently.
OR... how about Gabriel García Márquez [Gah-bree-ell Gar-SEE-uh MARR-kes] ?
[/my Spanish-speaking pedantry]
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Tue Jun 02, 2015 1:36 am

I believe there were a couple of PGs that were rather lengthy and took up a major portion of two lines. This didn't just mess up cadence - I had to stop for at least half a second to try to locate the next word in the sentence. When moderating a major tournament such as this one I try to do my best to pretend that the PGs do not exist, but sometimes, such as in the instance I described, it is difficult. The nature of how this tournament is run does not allow for much if any time for the reader to go over pronunciations before rounds. Given that fact and the speed we must read with relative to untimed tournaments, I don't see how most of the PGs in this tournament did anything but ruin cadence. The simple fix suggested above would help to improve this.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:35 am

The people complaining about pronunciation guides in this thread represent the top 10% of moderators in terms of being able to pronounce foreign or technical words. The discomfort of Cody Voight is insignificant next to the discomfort of the thousands of children who might be subjected to confusing mispronunciations by the other 90% of moderators, not to mention the game-warping consequences that this mispronunciation might have.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:49 am

Bruce, I'm okay with guides using Andrew's compromise of the colorization to make it easier to skip.

Also, I am skeptical that everyone in this thread is the top 10% of moderators...at HSNCT.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:38 am

We're talking about an issue that surfaced at HSNCT, but is applicable to all sets everywhere. I also think Andrew Hart's suggestion should be followed and decided not to mention that in my first post, since a million other people had already chimed in to support that fine idea.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by bmcke » Tue Jun 02, 2015 12:11 pm

If a word is really going to baffle most readers, I like just adding hyphens between the syllables. "Its C cells produce cal-ci-to-nin, while its follicular cells use ty-ro-sine to make a namesake hormone." This method looks a bit silly, but it sounds smooth when people read aloud, and it doesn't cause moderators to lose their place.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by theMoMA » Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:11 pm

bmcke wrote:If a word is really going to baffle most readers, I like just adding hyphens between the syllables. "Its C cells produce cal-ci-to-nin, while its follicular cells use ty-ro-sine to make a namesake hormone." This method looks a bit silly, but it sounds smooth when people read aloud, and it doesn't cause moderators to lose their place.
That might not be very intuitive for many readers, and indeed could be very confusing. For instance, how would someone who has never seen the word "calcitonin" before know that the second syllable starts with a soft C rather than a hard C? I'd venture that someone who had never seen that word would be more likely to pronounce the second syllable incorrectly with the dashes in there.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Angry Babies in Love » Tue Jun 02, 2015 9:31 pm

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:We're talking about an issue that surfaced at HSNCT, but is applicable to all sets everywhere. I also think Andrew Hart's suggestion should be followed and decided not to mention that in my first post, since a million other people had already chimed in to support that fine idea.
I agree that it's important generally but I think it's more acutely applicable to HSNCT where a) there is known to be an experienced reader core that is fine with fewer guides and b) there is a timer.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by dtaylor4 » Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:36 pm

For the Masonic sets, David Reinstein puts PGs in red text. From what I have gathered from a wide swath of readers, it helps tremendously, as it easily pops out off of the page.

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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by jonah » Sun Jun 07, 2015 1:36 pm

dtaylor4 wrote:For the Masonic sets, David Reinstein puts PGs in red text. From what I have gathered from a wide swath of readers, it helps tremendously, as it easily pops out off of the page.
Except the word(s) being guided are also in red, making these harder to skip.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by theMoMA » Mon Jun 08, 2015 2:25 pm

From what I gather, printing large-scale tournaments in color is not an option. The color options seem to be limited to greyscale, either in background or text. The text size could be toggled as well.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by mahir256 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:32 pm

I would think a good compromise measure (at least for moderators that have hard times pronouncing things) would be to have the pronunciations mixed in with the text, with the actual spellings placed after the answerline.

An example, using the tossup Andrew Hart embedded, is below:
Congenital decreased activity of this organ can lead to cretinism, while its hyperactivity can cause heart palpitations and bulging eyeballs. Its C cells produce KAAL-sih-TOH-nin, while its follicular cells use TYE-ruh-seen to make a namesake (*) hormone. Graves' disease and Hashimoto's disease are autoimmune disorders of--for 10 points--what gland in the neck, enlarged in goiter, that requires iodine?

answer: thyroid gland {calcitonin, tyrosine}
Of course, the words and the pronunciations could be swapped if necessary, but to provide the choice of pronunciation placement to moderators would be detrimental in terms of resource use unless the questions were distributed electronically (which, as we all know, NAQT doesn't allow).
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:53 pm

This idea wouldn't work because it would require moderators to stop reading, look down at the bottom of the question, say the word, and then go back up to where they were reading, find their place again, and resume reading. This would seriously distract them from their flow and delay games as people tried to remember where they had been in the question. In addition, experienced moderators generally want pronunciation guides to be less intrusive - I've read enough quizbowl that I know how to pronounce tyrosine, and I want to be able to see tyrosine and just say it, while the guide is easily ignorable by people who don't need it.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Eddie » Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:53 pm

mahir256 wrote:I would think a good compromise measure (at least for moderators that have hard times pronouncing things) would be to have the pronunciations mixed in with the text, with the actual spellings placed after the answerline.

An example, using the tossup Andrew Hart embedded, is below:
Congenital decreased activity of this organ can lead to cretinism, while its hyperactivity can cause heart palpitations and bulging eyeballs. Its C cells produce KAAL-sih-TOH-nin, while its follicular cells use TYE-ruh-seen to make a namesake (*) hormone. Graves' disease and Hashimoto's disease are autoimmune disorders of--for 10 points--what gland in the neck, enlarged in goiter, that requires iodine?

answer: thyroid gland {calcitonin, tyrosine}
Of course, the words and the pronunciations could be swapped if necessary, but to provide the choice of pronunciation placement to moderators would be detrimental in terms of resource use unless the questions were distributed electronically (which, as we all know, NAQT doesn't allow).
I feel like that would slow down a lot of experienced readers who know how to pronounce said words, since they would have to either parse the pronunciation guide or keep glancing down near the answer line to find the word they're trying to pronounce. I honestly feel that the best solution is to go with the traditional option of difficult word (DIFF-ee-"cult" "WORD") and just add a grey background. It's easy and unobtrusive for both parties.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:21 pm

Don't know about foreign language mumbo jumbo but I think science words should do more of the thing where there's an interpunct in between parts of the word. I feel like it'd make it harder to :capybara: up the pronunciation
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:46 pm

Black Miao wrote:Don't know about foreign language mumbo jumbo but I think science words should do more of the thing where there's an interpunct in between parts of the word. I feel like it'd make it harder to :capybara: up the pronunciation
I'm looking at you car·bo·cat·ions!
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by mahir256 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:10 pm

Steeve Ho You Fat wrote:...it would require moderators to stop reading, look down at the bottom of the question, say the word, and then go back up to where they were reading, find their place again, and resume reading...
This would only happen with good moderators, or at least those who have enough knowledge to make out by themselves what is to be said given the word (or maybe just those who are completely ticked at the presence of pronunciation guides), which I'm sure is all of us in the realm of good quizbowl.

My idea mainly dealt with those mods who for the life of them can't comprehend whatever they are saying and thus have nowhere to go with it. Having had to cope with often completely clueless mods south of Interstate 70 (and I'm sure I'm not the only one in a similar boat), I at least can easily see where respelling guides inserted within the question would drastically improve their reading. Any of those mods, dreadfully slow as they are, break down entirely in reading some 'foreign' phrase or other that comes up. On the whole, they don't quite care about learning from questions, from players, from coaches, from their mistakes; they came to read X number of rounds and go home and so they ought to do it quickly and right the first time.

If that last sentence disturbs you, then we should just have a separate 'improving moderator quality' thread.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Thu Jun 18, 2015 12:15 am

I don't think anyone is denying the existence of bad moderators, including plenty of people who are decent quizbowl players and/or read the forums - everyone can offer their own stories of terrible moderators, and I would certainly suggest people share their recommendations on how to train people to be better (although this is more applicable to things like college players reading at team tournaments than random parents or teachers impressed into service for one tournament once). That being said, I think that displaying a word, clearly followed by a pronunciation guide that is appropriately differentiated from the surrounding words, is the best way to ensure that moderators that recognize the words are able to read the words without distraction and moderators unfamiliar with the words can quickly have a pronunciation guide available to them.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by hftf » Mon Jun 22, 2015 5:53 am

Here is an idea for putting pronunciation guides in marginal notes that attempts to satisfy the requirements below:
Packets 1 and 9 of STIMPY wrote:Image
Image · Larger image · PDF
The pronunciation guide is…
  • not in the way of subsequent words and punctuation. It is easy to maintain a cadence because the next few words are in focus.
  • not distracting to read. Bold and color are used to grab attention, but pronunciation guides should not grab attention.
  • not disrupting to the typographic color. The reason bold and color are rarely used for basic emphasis is so the page doesn’t end up looking like raisin bread.
  • still in high contrast to the question content without being distracting, as the marginal notes are in a separate column.
  • optional. In addition, it is easy to tell at a glance whether the pronunciation guide is worth reading.
  • easy to scan before starting the question. By reading downwards in the margin.
  • easy to access while reading the question. By skipping to the right.
  • easy to return from. By skipping to the left and resuming from the superscripted symbol.
  • has a familiar appearance. Marginal notes are commonly used for translations or other annotations in foreign language textbooks, literature like Shakespeare plays, and scripture. (Matt Jackson: “It looks almost… Talmudic.”)
  • easy to implement in LaTeX, HTML, etc. for automatic exporting in tournament writing software.
Also, typography authority Robert Bringhurst has good things to say about marginal notes, and uses them frequently in his books:
[i]The Elements of Typographic Style[/i], §4.3.1 wrote:Sidenotes give more life and variety to the page and are the easiest of all to find and read. If carefully designed, they need not enlarge either the page or the cost of printing it.
Some drawbacks:
  • Hard to implement in Word (text box anchors are paragraph-level).
  • Probably not possible in Google Docs, though an add-on for marginal notes would not be difficult to make, and would even be a good first project for someone who wants to learn the platform.
  • The margin is widened by 1" or so to make room for the notes, and so the line width is reduced by around ¾". However:
    • Most quizbowl tournaments no longer read from printed packets, so increased printing cost is not a huge issue.
    • A narrower line means a slightly finer scale for measuring question length.
    • Many sources suggest the optimal line length is around 60 characters. A 6½" line of 10 point TNR is closer to 100.
Last edited by hftf on Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:47 am

hftf wrote:
  • Hard to implement in Word (text box anchors are paragraph-level).
  • Probably not possible in Google Docs, though an add-on for marginal notes would not be difficult to make, and would even be a good first project for someone who wants to learn the platform.
These factors are likely to make it impossible to standardize implementation of sidenotes as the "official" way of doing pronunciation guides. As I've said before: most people don't know how to use, and will never learn how to use, LaTeX. HTML literacy isn't that much higher.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Cody » Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:57 am

I don't think sidenotes would work well when reading aloud - having to jump to the side of the page then jump back takes enough time to induce an unnatural pause and means one is likely to lose their place.

Plus, given the absurd number of pronunciation guides at ICT this year (the reason there was a problem - something missing in this discussion is that pronunciation guides don't normally interfere with reading in my experience), there just wouldn't be enough room.
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Ndg » Mon Jun 22, 2015 2:03 pm

hftf wrote: [*] not distracting to read. Bold and color are used to grab attention, but pronunciation guides should not grab attention.
[*]not disrupting to the typographic color. The reason bold and color are rarely used for basic emphasis is so the page doesn’t end up looking like raisin bread.

If I have to look outside the question for the pronunciation, then I really do need something in the question that grabs my attention. At the very least, I would need a mark at the beginning, not the end, of the word to ensure that I'm aware of the guide before I start to read the word.

The aesthetics of the packet are secondary considerations at most. I don't care how pretty the page looks if it's slowing down moderators.

Speaking as a moderator, I don't want to ever have to look outside the question and then go back and find my place. I think Andrew Hart's highlighting method is the best suggestion in this thread because it makes both finding and skipping easy, and, just as importantly, is very easy to implement in the software that people actually use to write questions. (I'd be as happy as anyone here if everyone suddenly learned LaTeX, but it's just not realistic.)
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Re: Discussion of pronunciation guides

Post by Captain Sinico » Fri Jun 26, 2015 6:33 pm

I had the same problem at both HSNCT and ICT; trying to find the end of the pronunciation guides was difficult at times.

Graying the pronunciation guides as suggested sounds like a very good idea. It seems to allow more efficient skipping of those I don't need and finding of their ends more easily, but it also helps location and use of the occasional one I benefit from (even as a self-identified member of Occupy Bruce's 10%.)

While marginal notes seem like a good solution, I don't know if they're very practical for printed packets. A quizbowl packet as currently rendered uses most of the horizontal space on the printed page. Making space by expanding margins to occasionally fill in with guides will cause the tournament to require more pages, which is rather the tail wagging the dog. However, for text read from a screen, I think marginal guides would work great.

I'd also like to suggest a third solution: put the pronunciation guides in a header before the question text, as some instances of MLK and ABD back in the day used to do. This may add a little text compared to inline guides - due to line break chances and duplication of the text if you include both the word and the guide - but it removes the guides from the text of the question, where they can be odious, and has the added benefit of alerting the moderator in advance of difficult words that in the following text, which can be useful even to a moderator who already well knows how to say a word.

As a fourth idea, perhaps it would be possible to produce a version of the set without pronunciation guides, or maybe different levels of guides, like no guides, a few guides, and a lot of guides, and then let the moderator choose their preferred version, or even assign them one.
Mike Sorice
Coach, Centennial High School of Champaign, IL (2014-) & Team Illinois (2016-2018)
Alumnus, Illinois ABT (2000-2002; 2003-2009) & Fenwick Scholastic Bowl (1999-2000)
ACF
IHSSBCA
PACE

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