Foreign-language answers

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Foreign-language answers

Post by Maerlon » Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:32 pm

Split from the "what protests are for" thread in Collegiate Discussion. --Mgmt.

This does seem to be a consistency problem with readers, especially at smaller tournaments. Reading through this article has definitely made sure I won't be making particular mistakes, although I was already making a personal list of what not to do after having gone through all of these.

Another problem I have is with language-specific pronunciations. I will consistently pronounce names from languages other than English the way they are said in their respective languages, not the way they are said by English-speakers, and it's happened before that readers have called my answers incorrect. If I say Ivan Grozny (Eevan Grozniy) instead of Ivan (Eye-van) the Terrible, I am correct in doing so, yet there are some readers that consider this incorrect. French pronunciations seem

In your opinions, what is the correct course of action for such a case? If a player answers with a foreign name pronounced differently from the English way, is it
a) incorrect?
b) a prompt?
c) correct?

I'd like to hammer this out before I start reading at tournaments. We have a lot of other nationalities playing and language-specific answers are a common thing. It'd be nice to have a solid answer on how to respond to them (and whether I should revise all my names back to English).

Thanks in advance everyone.
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Re: What protests are for & why you should make less of them

Post by Masked Canadian History Bandit » Sun Sep 08, 2013 11:12 pm

Maerlon wrote:This does seem to be a consistency problem with readers, especially at smaller tournaments. Reading through this article has definitely made sure I won't be making particular mistakes, although I was already making a personal list of what not to do after having gone through all of these.

Another problem I have is with language-specific pronunciations. I will consistently pronounce names from languages other than English the way they are said in their respective languages, not the way they are said by English-speakers, and it's happened before that readers have called my answers incorrect. If I say Ivan Grozny (Eevan Grozniy) instead of Ivan (Eye-van) the Terrible, I am correct in doing so, yet there are some readers that consider this incorrect. French pronunciations seem

In your opinions, what is the correct course of action for such a case? If a player answers with a foreign name pronounced differently from the English way, is it
a) incorrect?
b) a prompt?
c) correct?

I'd like to hammer this out before I start reading at tournaments. We have a lot of other nationalities playing and language-specific answers are a common thing. It'd be nice to have a solid answer on how to respond to them (and whether I should revise all my names back to English).

Thanks in advance everyone.
Yana, as long as the foreign-language answer is correct and specific to that answer, there's no reason not to give points. All the rules for English answers still apply (e.g. saying Pyotr Alexeyevich would result in a prompt and not outright acceptance for Peter I or Peter II since they both shared that name).

For these cases, it helps if all frequently-used foreign language translations in the answerline, but providing for all possible answerlines is a lot of work for editors with marginal value if they're unlikely to be given (e.g. 5th tier official titles of a Russian Tsar in Finnish). If you're reading for someone who gives a non-English answer that doesn't show up in the answerline, feel free to instruct them to lodge a protest if they feel they deserved points, and let whoever handles protests deal with it later if it matters.

EDIT: Clarify sentence on translations in answerlines.
Last edited by Masked Canadian History Bandit on Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:25 am

Maerlon wrote:I will consistently pronounce names from languages other than English the way they are said in their respective languages, not the way they are said by English-speakers, and it's happened before that readers have called my answers incorrect. If I say Ivan Grozny (Eevan Grozniy) instead of Ivan (Eye-van) the Terrible, I am correct in doing so, yet there are some readers that consider this incorrect.

In your opinions, what is the correct course of action for such a case? If a player answers with a foreign name pronounced differently from the English way, is it
a) incorrect?
b) a prompt?
c) correct?
In almost all cases such answers are correct outright. As Patrick notes, it's a good idea for answer lines to give translations where useful. (For instance, NAQT's standard for the tsar mentioned above is "Ivan the Terrible (or Ivan IV ["the fourth"] Vasilyevich or Ivan Grozny; prompt on "Ivan").")
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by 1992 in spaceflight » Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:16 pm

What about first and middle names for tsars? My professor for Russian history referred to a lot of tsars by their first and middle names, as do a lot of Russian scholars. (so, for example, anytime I've written on Ivan the Terrible, I say to accept Ivan Vasilyevich; is this wrong?)
Last edited by 1992 in spaceflight on Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by Masked Canadian History Bandit » Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:21 pm

The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi wrote:What about first and middle names for tsars? My professor for Russian history referred to a lot of tsars by their first and middle names, as do a lot of Russian scholars. (so, for example, anytime I've written on Ivan the Terrible, I say to accept Ivan Vasilyevich; is this wrong>)
IMHO, this should be fine, as long as it's unique to that tsar (e.g. saying Pyotr Alexeyevich would result in a prompt and not outright acceptance for Peter I or Peter II since they both shared that name).
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by The Polebarn Hotel » Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:44 pm

Although I'm a competitor and not a reader, if I was a reader, I would probably believe in strict interpretation of the answer line. So if someone answered Ivan Grozny, which I had never heard of as an acceptable name for Ivan the Terrible, I'd probably say that it was wrong. I'm sorry - I didn't know that his name was Ivan Groznyi/Grozny/Grozniy, and it's not on the answer line. It's like saying "Sverige" for Sweden or "Suomi" for Finland. It's pointless because there is that chance that it won't be on the answer line. One could protest after that, I guess. But I think that it should be encouraged to stick with the name that you know will certainly be accepted. Even responding "Samuel Langhorne Clemens" for Mark Twain has its risks - why bother? Just say Mark Twain!
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:23 pm

Crazyflight wrote:Although I'm a competitor and not a reader, if I was a reader, I would probably believe in strict interpretation of the answer line. So if someone answered Ivan Grozny, which I had never heard of as an acceptable name for Ivan the Terrible, I'd probably say that it was wrong. I'm sorry - I didn't know that his name was Ivan Groznyi/Grozny/Grozniy, and it's not on the answer line. It's like saying "Sverige" for Sweden or "Suomi" for Finland. It's pointless because there is that chance that it won't be on the answer line. One could protest after that, I guess. But I think that it should be encouraged to stick with the name that you know will certainly be accepted. Even responding "Samuel Langhorne Clemens" for Mark Twain has its risks - why bother? Just say Mark Twain!
As a player, "just say the obvious, famous answer" is generally a reasonable policy. As a question writer, it's incumbent on you to include as many acceptable answers as possible, because it's very possible that a player learned about Ivan the Terrible in Russian, or read a book where he was referred to as "Ivan Grozny", or whatever, and there's absolutely no reason not to reward a player for giving a correct answer, however uncommon. Thus, as a moderator, a good rule of thumb is to accept anything the answerline tells you to accept (obviously; and good questions will have complete, fleshed-out answerlines); otherwise, encourage players to lodge protests if they answer with something not on the answerline that they believe to be an acceptable alternative.
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by The Polebarn Hotel » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:18 pm

Ukonvasara wrote:
Crazyflight wrote:Although I'm a competitor and not a reader, if I was a reader, I would probably believe in strict interpretation of the answer line. So if someone answered Ivan Grozny, which I had never heard of as an acceptable name for Ivan the Terrible, I'd probably say that it was wrong. I'm sorry - I didn't know that his name was Ivan Groznyi/Grozny/Grozniy, and it's not on the answer line. It's like saying "Sverige" for Sweden or "Suomi" for Finland. It's pointless because there is that chance that it won't be on the answer line. One could protest after that, I guess. But I think that it should be encouraged to stick with the name that you know will certainly be accepted. Even responding "Samuel Langhorne Clemens" for Mark Twain has its risks - why bother? Just say Mark Twain!
As a player, "just say the obvious, famous answer" is generally a reasonable policy. As a question writer, it's incumbent on you to include as many acceptable answers as possible, because it's very possible that a player learned about Ivan the Terrible in Russian, or read a book where he was referred to as "Ivan Grozny", or whatever, and there's absolutely no reason not to reward a player for giving a correct answer, however uncommon. Thus, as a moderator, a good rule of thumb is to accept anything the answerline tells you to accept (obviously; and good questions will have complete, fleshed-out answerlines); otherwise, encourage players to lodge protests if they answer with something not on the answerline that they believe to be an acceptable alternative.
I completely and wholeheartedly agree with this logic. Writers should definitely do their part in making sure that the whole thing runs smoothly, by including things like Suomi for Finland and Ivan Grozny for Ivan the Terrible.
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:55 pm

The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi wrote:What about first and middle names for tsars? My professor for Russian history referred to a lot of tsars by their first and middle names, as do a lot of Russian scholars. (so, for example, anytime I've written on Ivan the Terrible, I say to accept Ivan Vasilyevich; is this wrong?)
The patronymic isn't really a "middle name" nor is it an acceptable form of identification -- it's part of the personal name. Assuming we had some reason to prompt on "Ivan" in the first place (which we almost always do since Ivan III is a plausible thing to ask about at the harder end of most tournaments, at least as a bonus part) I would definitely require either "Ivan IV," "Ivan the Terrible," or "Ivan Grozny." It seems to have become trendy in recent years to list the given + patronymic name as an underlined acceptable answer for Russian people, but I think this is a big misunderstanding both of how Russian naming conventions work and why certain things are or are not acceptable in quizbowl, and my opinion is that it should stop.
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by Masked Canadian History Bandit » Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:39 am

Matt Weiner wrote:
The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi wrote:What about first and middle names for tsars? My professor for Russian history referred to a lot of tsars by their first and middle names, as do a lot of Russian scholars. (so, for example, anytime I've written on Ivan the Terrible, I say to accept Ivan Vasilyevich; is this wrong?)
The patronymic isn't really a "middle name" nor is it an acceptable form of identification -- it's part of the personal name. Assuming we had some reason to prompt on "Ivan" in the first place (which we almost always do since Ivan III is a plausible thing to ask about at the harder end of most tournaments, at least as a bonus part) I would definitely require either "Ivan IV," "Ivan the Terrible," or "Ivan Grozny." It seems to have become trendy in recent years to list the given + patronymic name as an underlined acceptable answer for Russian people, but I think this is a big misunderstanding both of how Russian naming conventions work and why certain things are or are not acceptable in quizbowl, and my opinion is that it should stop.
But if there's only one tsar with that pair of given and patronymic names, is that not uniquely identifying and thus deserving of points?
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by Matt Weiner » Sat Sep 21, 2013 4:19 am

My thinking is that we require the names actually used for people, and we don't accept "the Elizabeth whose father was named George" for "Elizabeth II."
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:39 pm

As explained above, both the "ee-vahn" and "eye-van" pronunciations are automatically correct per good-quizbowl rules on being lenient with players' answers as long as they look like what's on the page and aren't identifying a different, wrong answer (eg, alkane and alkene). However, this isn't always the case, which is the reason this thread exists. And even then, you have to take into consideration that a lot of the most common pronunciations that anglophones use are technically wrong. For instance, most people pronounce "Qin Shihuang" as "Qin Xihuang", but both pronunciations should be acceptable answers anyway.
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by Excelsior (smack) » Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:30 pm

Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant wrote:...a lot of the most common pronunciations that anglophones use are technically wrong. For instance, most people pronounce "Qin Shihuang" as "Qin Xihuang", but both pronunciations should be acceptable answers anyway.
No dialect of English I'm aware of distinguishes between pinyin "sh" and "x" (or "ch" and "q", or "zh" and "j"), and this is I think the fundamental reason that we (do and should) accept pronunciations that sound like "Xihuang" for "Shihuang". Clearly, you can't expect speakers without a phonemic distinction between "sh" and "x" to be able to produce those distinctions. I don't think characterizing these Anglophone pronunciations as "technically wrong" is useful, because if you're speaking English to other English-speakers, there's no practical reason to distinguish between "sh" and "x" or whatever (at the very least, I can't hear the distinction).

(Stated alternatively, quizbowl as it currently exists is a game of English played by speakers of English, and so when we say "Shihuang", we are saying the English word /ʃiːhwɑŋ/, not the Chinese word 始皇, however you IPA that.)
My thinking is that we require the names actually used for people, and we don't accept "the Elizabeth whose father was named George" for "Elizabeth II."
Assuming that Jacob's claim that "a lot of Russian scholars" "[refer] to a lot of tsars by their first and middle names" is true (I don't know whether or not it is), this seems reason enough to accept Russian patronymics or whatever.
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Sat Sep 21, 2013 11:14 pm

Which is why I said they should both be acceptable answers.
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by Masked Canadian History Bandit » Sat Sep 21, 2013 11:17 pm

Excelsior (smack) wrote: Assuming that Jacob's claim that "a lot of Russian scholars" "[refer] to a lot of tsars by their first and middle names" is true (I don't know whether or not it is), this seems reason enough to accept Russian patronymics or whatever.
As long as they're uniquely identifying, of course.
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by cornfused » Sun Sep 22, 2013 5:22 pm

Masked Canadian History Bandit wrote:
Excelsior (smack) wrote: Assuming that Jacob's claim that "a lot of Russian scholars" "[refer] to a lot of tsars by their first and middle names" is true (I don't know whether or not it is), this seems reason enough to accept Russian patronymics or whatever.
As long as they're uniquely identifying, of course.
It's true, especially for Paul I.
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by Cheynem » Sun Sep 22, 2013 5:30 pm

As opposed to Tsar Paul II?
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:58 pm

This turned into splitting hairs about Tsars really quickly. There's a Peter the Great beard tax joke somewhere in there, but I'm too out of it to come up with anything.

I have long been on the extreme liberal fringe of accommodating different pronunciations for quizbowl answers. I'm one of the few defenders of the ACF vowel rule as it existed until recently, and if I had it my way, ACF rules would be even more liberal: for example, I would accept "ch" as a pronunciation for "t" even in places where it's almost always pronounced as a t, because in many places in English t is pronounced as a ch. (Disclaimer: my second buzz I ever took at college quizbowl was a neg where my pronunciation of notocord as "nochocord" was not accepted)

I don't expect to convert anyone to that extreme of a view in this thread, but let me list some reasons as to why I'm such an extremist on this, and perhaps you will find some of them to be valid.

(1) English is basically not written phonetically. Yes, there are complex rules that spelling bee champs can memorize, and many spelling bee champs end up playing quizbowl for some reason, but compared to most languages we do a horrible job of encoding information about the pronunciation of a word into its spelling. For most English words that are not spelled as written, you basically have to memorize pronunciation in addition to memorizing what the word means, how you use it, etc.

(2) Because of the above, you can't expect somebody who has gained knowledge from reading to also gain knowledge of how to pronounce the word that he or she has read. I've long argued that most knowledge quizbowl players have comes from reading (especially at higher levels), so this is particularly salient in our community.

(3) Quizbowl people come from all sorts of random backgrounds. The person buzzing in about a Tsar could easily be neither a native speaker of Russian nor of English. It's not always obvious either: you'd never guess by looking at me or listening to me that English is not my first language, for example. (though my terrible spelling may be a hint!) Given the issues quizbowl already has about not being a particularly inclusive activity in some ways, I think it makes sense to be accommodating.

(4) Quizbowl ultimately values substantive, real knowledge of a thing over trivia facts and petty knowledge. I would argue that pronunciation is petty knowledge. Things have names, and I'm not denying they do, but as I say above knowing names is different from knowing how to pronounce them properly.
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Re: Foreign-language answers

Post by theMoMA » Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:38 am

In my experience, moderators need to do a better job asking people to spell names when they're pronounced ambiguously or maybe-not-quite-correctly. This can clear up a lot of edge cases and potential problems and get to clearer resolutions. (The idea, of course, is not to require the player spell the word correctly, but to clear up the ambiguity in the number of syllables or consonant usage or whatever else.)
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