The Leniency of Pronunciation

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Matthew Bonnan
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The Leniency of Pronunciation

Post by Matthew Bonnan »

This weekend, I was moderating a room at a local tourney. During one of the rounds, a tossup answer line was "Kiribati." A competitor buzzed in and promptly answered ki-ri-ba-ti. Although that's not how it's pronounced, I accepted it as a correct response, seeing as it is spelled in that manner. Later on in that same match, a bonus answer line was "Finno-Ugric." This time, the captain of the other team -- roundabout -- answered "Finno-Ugaritic", or something to that extent in which it was obviously incorrect. I told him that his answer wasn't acceptable, and his team itself went on to lose by a decent amount, more than the 50 or so points that were up for grabs. After the round, one of the coaches from the losing team approached me and said, "You definitely need to be more consistent with what you accept." I asked for a specific instance, and she brought up what was aforementioned. I've read through the NAQT rules before, and I felt that I was right. Even though my decision as a moderator is final, was I in the wrong for this?

[Now featuring made-up examples--mgmt]
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Re: The Leniency of Pronunciation

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

I don't know what NAQT rules say, but the general rule is that you need all of the consonants in the correct order and the same number of syllables. There is great leeway in the pronunciation of vowels. This clearly makes the Finno-Ugric answer wrong: on no planet where quizbowl is played is that a correct answer.

Generally, the more "good" the quizbowl, the more lenient the pronunciation rules. Being a stickler about pronunciation, especially vowel pronunciation, is a common affectation of bad quizbowl.
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Matt Weiner
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Re: The Leniency of Pronunciation

Post by Matt Weiner »

The NAQT rule supports your decisions:
Pronunciations do not have to be exact. A plausible or phonetic pronunciation is usually acceptable, unless it demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding about the correct answer (e.g., Malcolm the Tenth is not acceptable for Malcolm X). As a general rule, while leeway may be given to vowel sounds, consonants should be in the correct order (e.g., Olduvai is not the same as Olvudai), and syllables should not be added or omitted.

It is not the case, however, that "vowels do not matter." Correctly pronounced answers are always acceptable. Plausible pronunciations of answers according to standard English phonetics are acceptable, so long as they do not create ambiguity. Plausible pronunciations of answers according to other languages may or may not be acceptable depending on the exact context. For instance, mee-jee, mye-jye, and may-ih-jee would all be acceptable for Meiji. Moo-joo or may-jay would be incorrect. The intent of this rule is to avoid penalizing players for learning by reading without an opportunity to hear words pronounced correctly.
The rule in HSAPQ, ACF, and PACE is effectively just the first part without the caveat about vowels mattering. As an additional twist, the HSNCT moderators' meeting has been known to tell staffers that at that tournament, and at that tournament only, pronunciations must be exactly correct, though since neither the people making that directive nor the staffers are in any position to judge what that even means, it just defaults back to the regular NAQT rule.
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Re: The Leniency of Pronunciation

Post by Important Bird Area »

For the record, the above-quoted NAQT correctness guideline C.28 applies to all official NAQT events. Any information to the contrary given at past moderators' meetings was given in error.
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Re: The Leniency of Pronunciation

Post by fett0001 »

That set isn't clear.
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Re: The Leniency of Pronunciation

Post by Susan »

fett0001 wrote:That set isn't clear.
I've changed the examples.
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Re: The Leniency of Pronunciation

Post by dtaylor4 »

Susan wrote:
fett0001 wrote:That set isn't clear.
I've changed the examples.
Should Bruce's post be edited to reflect this?
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Re: The Leniency of Pronunciation

Post by Susan »

dtaylor4 wrote:
Susan wrote:
fett0001 wrote:That set isn't clear.
I've changed the examples.
Should Bruce's post be edited to reflect this?
Indeed! Thanks for catching that.
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