Pronunciation question

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Pronunciation question

Post by Maxwell Sniffingwell »

OK, this is carried over from an IRC discussion and even a protest at ACF Fall...

Standard pronunciation acceptability:
mACF: Therefore, any reasonable attempt at pronouncing an answer will either be ruled correct
or result in a prompt for spelling (to be evaluated under rule G.11), and any answer with
the correct consonant sounds in the correct order will be accepted.
NAQT: 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.

My questions:
1. Are Buridan and Borodin interchangeable? (They have been treated as such at two different tournaments, one NAQT and one ACF, this year)
2. Did Baudelaire write Les Fleurs de mal (as opposed to ...du mal?) Du and de are easily mispronounced, but they are distinctly different words.

And yes, I'm nitpicking.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by The Time Keeper »

It seems to me that Buridan and Borodin can sound close enough alike if someone isn't enunciating very well and since I can't think of a situation where they could be legitimately confused for one another, I'd be pretty lenient unless the speaker went out of their way to mispronounce whatever the real answer is.

Same deal (perhaps even more so) with Les Fleurs du Mal. Unless the person explicitly pronounces it "dee mal" I'm probably taking it. Leniency can only go so far of course, but when it comes down to it quizbowl is about giving points to people who know what's being asked about, first and foremost.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by AKKOLADE »

Frederick Dukes wrote:OK, this is carried over from an IRC discussion and even a protest at ACF Fall...

Standard pronunciation acceptability:
mACF: Therefore, any reasonable attempt at pronouncing an answer will either be ruled correct
or result in a prompt for spelling (to be evaluated under rule G.11), and any answer with
the correct consonant sounds in the correct order will be accepted.
NAQT: 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.

My questions:
1. Are Buridan and Borodin interchangeable? (They have been treated as such at two different tournaments, one NAQT and one ACF, this year)
2. Did Baudelaire write Les Fleurs de mal (as opposed to ...du mal?) Du and de are easily mispronounced, but they are distinctly different words.

And yes, I'm nitpicking.
Well, spelling could be prompted, and it says leeway on vowel sounds. The consonants are in the correct order, and there are no additional/omitted syllables. So, either accept or prompt for spelling.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

#2 is without question acceptable. #1 is more iffy, but since those people are famous for entirely different things I doubt there will be much of a problem with people intending to say the wrong answer getting credit for it.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by aestheteboy »

A slightly different situation: I was once penalized for pronouncing "Dulce et Decorum est" the "French" way, so to speak. Not that I thought it was a French poem, but the French pronunciation came into my mind naturally, for whatever reason. I think it was the correct ruling considering the wording of the current rules, but it was the first and only time that I was penalized for knowing more than just English. The same thing happened with Du Bois.
Should it be accepted? prompted for spelling? outright negged?
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by cvdwightw »

Your first example is hard because the line the poem takes its title from is in Latin and it's questionable whether you're "translating" into French. I'd probably take it, but then again I'm a pretty lenient moderator and if you don't completely screw up pronunciation then I'm probably going to take it. The second example I would not hesitate in taking since it's an absolutely reasonable way to pronounce that name (for another example, see Koch), despite it not being the way it's pronounced in that instance.

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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by DakarKra »

aestheteboy wrote:A slightly different situation: I was once penalized for pronouncing "Dulce et Decorum est" the "French" way, so to speak. Not that I thought it was a French poem, but the French pronunciation came into my mind naturally, for whatever reason. I think it was the correct ruling considering the wording of the current rules, but it was the first and only time that I was penalized for knowing more than just English. The same thing happened with Du Bois.
Should it be accepted? prompted for spelling? outright negged?
As Dwight says, the line comes from Latin, but there could be issues for some people (I'm assuming non-douche baggery here, though this might not ever come up in its absence). The rules of ellision in Latin poetry would have the line pronounced "Dul-ket De-kor-umst", and a straight Latin (using restored pronunciation or whatever) would be "Dul-kay et De-kor-uhm est". Most of the time that I've heard that line said in a non-Latin context, though, I've heard the Italian (or Catholic or British or whatever) pronunciation of the consonants "Dul-che et De-kor-um est". Because of that, I've always been extremely lenient with pronunciation of the name, including vaguely French pronunciations. I can't say what most people would or should do, though.

As for DuBois, I've heard it both ways approximately equally, so it seems absolutely reasonable to me to accept the other form.

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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by Strongside »

Buridan/Borodin.

I would say these are pretty interchangeable. Unless you said something like BOHR-OH-DEAN for Buridan, I would say it is acceptable.

Les Fleurs de Mal/ Les Fleurs du Mal

As long as it is close, I would say it is correct.

DuBois.

I would say either DUH-BOIS or DOO-BWAH is acceptable in any situation.

Dulce et Decorum Est.

As long as it is close, I would say it is correct.

I have played quiz bowl for several years, and I still don't know how to pronounce lots of stuff. I like to be especially lenient with French. For example most people who don't know French would pronounce Rimbaud how it looks, and not RAM-BOW.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by vandyhawk »

I'd say I agree with most of the above thoughts. If someone is confusing Buridan and Borodin, I don't think my mind would even think to make sure the distinction was there since they are so drastically different. The most nit-picky thing I've ever seen for pronunciation was last year at ICT. On the tossup about "Lara" from Dr. Zhivago, my teammate buzzed in about halfway through and pronounced it "Laura," but was given a neg. I thought that to be rather harsh.

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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by grapesmoker »

Borodin and Buridan are certainly not interchangable, but I can't think of any plausible situation in which one would be given as the (wrong) answer for the other. It just wouldn't happen. For the other examples given I would accept any plausible pronunciation of "dulce" (I took Latin in high school and I still want to pronounce it "dulche"), or Les fleurs du mal[/u].

Remember, the point of the rules is not to be a hard and fast law but rather to emphasize the important things (knowledge of the answer) over the superficial ones (exact pronunciation). So the rules are written in such a way as to encourage moderators to err on the side of knowledge. Obviously, the line is drawn at the exactness of a title (although even that may vary if it's a translated work) but the important thing is to reward knowledge, not to wonder whether Buridan is an acceptable answer for Borodin.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by Maxwell Sniffingwell »

grapesmoker wrote:Borodin and Buridan are certainly not interchangable, but I can't think of any plausible situation in which one would be given as the (wrong) answer for the other. It just wouldn't happen. For the other examples given I would accept any plausible pronunciation of "dulce" (I took Latin in high school and I still want to pronounce it "dulche"), or Les fleurs du mal[/u].

Remember, the point of the rules is not to be a hard and fast law but rather to emphasize the important things (knowledge of the answer) over the superficial ones (exact pronunciation). So the rules are written in such a way as to encourage moderators to err on the side of knowledge. Obviously, the line is drawn at the exactness of a title (although even that may vary if it's a translated work) but the important thing is to reward knowledge, not to wonder whether Buridan is an acceptable answer for Borodin.


Well, it DID happen - I had to sit there and watch "Borodin" get accepted in a clue asking for the dude with the highly philosophical ass.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by Matt Weiner »

Yeah, of course that's acceptable. There is no way the person was trying to allege that the composer Borodin was the philosopher.

The reason these rules exist is that being pedantic about a usually non-existent "correct" pronunciation is the sort of quibbling over side issues that good quizbowl should eschew in favor of focusing on actual content.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by theMoMA »

The rules say that as long as the consonants are correct and in the right order, the answer is correct. So assuming you were playing a m/ACF tournament, B_r_d_n [insert vowels] is correct; stop whining about it!
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Frederick Dukes wrote: Well, it DID happen - I had to sit there and watch "Borodin" get accepted in a clue asking for the dude with the highly philosophical ass.
I honestly doubt the guy was thinking "oh yeah, the guy who talked about the donkey is the same guy that composed all that Russian music".
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by aestheteboy »

Matt Weiner wrote: The reason these rules exist is that being pedantic about a usually non-existent "correct" pronunciation is the sort of quibbling over side issues that good quizbowl should eschew in favor of focusing on actual content.
So I've come to accept that correct/precise pronunciation is not necessary to demonstrate "knowledge" for the purpose of quizbowl. But where do you draw the line? Is knowing the consonants + number of syllables enough to demonstrate "knowledge"? To me, this standard seems utterly arbitrary and frankly absurd. The difference between Borodin and Buridan is not just a matter of pedantry; it's very much an evidence of lack of knowledge.
If "knowledge" in quizbowl means knowing really vaguely what the name/answer sounds like, then let's at least be fair to all the vaguely correct answers. For example, when I mentioned the non-hypothetical situation of saying "Ka za ku stan" for "Ka zak stan," the consensus was that the first answer was not acceptable. So who said that syllables are crucial to show "knowledge" and vowels aren't? "Ka za ku stan" seems a lot closer to the "correct" pronunciation (what ever it is) than Buridan is. Of course, that's just my subjective opinion, but it's not hard to imagine that far far more people would understand "Ka za ku stan the country" than they would "Buridan the composer."
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by msaifutaa »

aestheteboy wrote: So I've come to accept that correct/precise pronunciation is not necessary to demonstrate "knowledge" for the purpose of quizbowl. But where do you draw the line? Is knowing the consonants + number of syllables enough to demonstrate "knowledge"? To me, this standard seems utterly arbitrary and frankly absurd. The difference between Borodin and Buridan is not just a matter of pedantry; it's very much an evidence of lack of knowledge.
If "knowledge" in quizbowl means knowing really vaguely what the name/answer sounds like, then let's at least be fair to all the vaguely correct answers. For example, when I mentioned the non-hypothetical situation of saying "Ka za ku stan" for "Ka zak stan," the consensus was that the first answer was not acceptable. So who said that syllables are crucial to show "knowledge" and vowels aren't? "Ka za ku stan" seems a lot closer to the "correct" pronunciation (what ever it is) than Buridan is. Of course, that's just my subjective opinion, but it's not hard to imagine that far far more people would understand "Ka za ku stan the country" than they would "Buridan the composer."
Well, the trouble is with accents or weak enunciation. I have no idea if I have this right, since I only know Buridan from reading his name and answering it in Quizbowl, but if I was fully enunciating very slowly, I would say:

Borodin == "BOOR-oh-DEEN"
Buridan == "BURR-ih-DAN"

Casually, though, many of those phonemes would just become an 'uh', so:

Borodin == "BOOR-uh-duhn"
Buridan == "BURR-uh-duhn"

And of course, the letter 'u' could easily be pronounced the other way if I'm wrong on that. And even if I'm right, it would be uncharitable not to accept Buridan with "BOOR" for Bur, since that is a reasonable phonetic pronunciation. At that point, they become indistinguishable.

And accents can make all of that even more complicated.

As for 'Kazakhstan', I could forgive the 'ku' based on an accent. For someone who was Japanese, for instance, a soft 'ku' would be expected because the only consonant they have without a vowel is 'n'. They also may be trying to do something with the kh to make some kind of combo consonant that just sounds like 'ku'. Now, if it's not a soft 'ku' and is an obvious and protracted extra syllable, that's different.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by canaanbananarama »

Within the Altaic language family, Kazakhstan's name is pronounced Qozoqistan (or other spelling variants) in the Oghuz (Turkmen, Azeri, Turkish) and Karluk (Uzbek, etc.) groups. Therefore saying it as four syllables should be perfectly fine-as a Turkish speaker I'm inclined personally to add in the "i" because quite frankly it sounds better and that's the way I speak. Also, things like Uzbekstan, Turkmenstan, and Tajikstan should be acceptable based on the reverse, since the pronunciation in the Kipchak (Kazakh, Kyrgyz) are acceptable variants. Either pronunciation is clear knowledge and should be acceptable. I'll now go away and hibernate for the next four years until there's another dispute involving Altaic languages.

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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by msaifutaa »

canaanbananarama wrote:Within the Altaic language family, Kazakhstan's name is pronounced Qozoqistan (or other spelling variants) in the Oghuz (Turkmen, Azeri, Turkish) and Karluk (Uzbek, etc.) groups. Therefore saying it as four syllables should be perfectly fine-as a Turkish speaker I'm inclined personally to add in the "i" because quite frankly it sounds better and that's the way I speak. Also, things like Uzbekstan, Turkmenstan, and Tajikstan should be acceptable based on the reverse, since the pronunciation in the Kipchak (Kazakh, Kyrgyz) are acceptable variants. Either pronunciation is clear knowledge and should be acceptable. I'll now go away and hibernate for the next four years until there's another dispute involving Altaic languages.

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Now the trouble is, if the two pronunciations are each equally acceptable in the steppes of central asia, then doesn't that mean Borodin's Ass won't be able to choose which one to say?
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Re: Pronunciation question

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Within the Altaic language family, Kazakhstan's name is pronounced Qozoqistan (or other spelling variants) in the Oghuz (Turkmen, Azeri, Turkish) and Karluk (Uzbek, etc.) groups. Therefore saying it as four syllables should be perfectly fine-as a Turkish speaker I'm inclined personally to add in the "i" because quite frankly it sounds better and that's the way I speak. Also, things like Uzbekstan, Turkmenstan, and Tajikstan should be acceptable based on the reverse, since the pronunciation in the Kipchak (Kazakh, Kyrgyz) are acceptable variants. Either pronunciation is clear knowledge and should be acceptable. I'll now go away and hibernate for the next four years until there's another dispute involving Altaic languages.

Charles Meigs
While this particular piece of Charles Meigs mastery of Altaic languages might not in and of itself conclude our debate, I think the principle can be extended. There are lots of ways to pronounce things. Even in rare cases where all the authorities sort of agree on how to pronounce a certain name, there will always be some kind of dissent, or a case that can be quite reasonably argued (as Charles demonstrates). So I mean, you'd sort of descend into this ridiculous world of superior pronunciation - are we going to require that everyone hit the exact pronunciation in the original language? If so, good freaking luck next time you buzz in and give a Chinese answer. Specifically, if you can figure out how they actually pronounced the name of Wang Anshi during the Song period, about a thousand historians would really appreciate hearing from you.

On a less-theoretical note, I just think it's lame to go around penalizing people for something like that. Whether or not Buridan could plausibly be pronounced "bore-uh-din" isn't really relevant to knowing anything about Buridan or any livestock he may or may not possess. Note that I'm not submitting knowing his name isn't relevant, but I think it's fair to conclude that having a conclusive knowledge of how the vowels in Buridan are pronounced shouldn't be necessary to prove you have knowledge by giving an answer. I wouldn't feel right giving anyone a hard time about it, anyway.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by ezubaric »

What about vowels that couldn't be reasonably be confused with each other? For instance, there was once a tossup on the Taika reform, and because it was only foggily in my mind and perhaps because I was confusing it with Haiku, I said "Taiku" and was ruled incorrect (this was at ICT and by a former teammate no less). It seems reasonable enough, but goes against the "get the consonants right rule." Of course, this is moot if I were asked to spell it (I wasn't - it was on the clock and the first interrupt), because I would have gotten it wrong anyway.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by Captain Sinico »

The way I see it, the only fair thing to do is to consider: "Is the given response a reasonable vocal rendering of an acceptable answer, i.e. if I show a written form of each acceptable answer to a number of literate people and ask them to carefully say each answer, will a non-trivial fraction of them say one of them that way?" If the answer is yes, then you take it. If not (including due to errors, however non-indicative of a lack of understanding in your or anyone else's opinion) then you're compelled not to.

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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

ImmaculateDeception wrote:The way I see it, the only fair thing to do is to consider: "Is the given answer be a reasonable vocal rendering of an acceptable answer, i.e. if I show a written form of each acceptable answer to a number of literate people and ask them to carefully say each answer, will a non-trivial fraction of them say one of them say that?" If the answer is yes, then you take it. If not (including due to errors, however non-indicative of a lack of understand in your or anyone else's opinion) then you're compelled not to.

MaS
The current consonant rule can be derived from such an approach. There is a very rich divergence in vowel sounds throughout spoken English, and moreover vowel sounds change very easily.

It's easier for any vowel in English to change to any other vowel than it is for, say, a k to change into an f.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by NoahMinkCHS »

I think ezubaric raises a good point that exposes a flaw in the consonants-correct -> word-correct rule. Sorice's rule sounds reasonable, but it's hard to enforce; on stuff like Taika/Taiku it's obvious where it would fall, but not so much on Borodin (as this thread indicates...)

English-speakers tend to turn unstressed vowels into schwa sounds, which I think leads to most of these problems AND to the consonants-correct rule. It's hard for me to justify rejecting an answer just because someone does this (a non-trivial fraction of American English speakers would probably pronounce Borodin as "buh-ruh-dun" in casual speech or in the course of a quizbowl game; ditto for Buridan).

On the other hand, for non-schwa changes (like "uh" to "oo" in Taika), that's not a natural process and shouldn't be taken. If someone said "beer-uh-dun" for the composer or philosopher, that really shouldn't be acceptable, and I would hate for a well-intentioned rule like the consonants-correct rule to be abused by someone arguing for that. If both teams are acting in good faith and in the spirit of the game, hopefully that wouldn't be an issue.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

NoahMinkCHS wrote: On the other hand, for non-schwa changes (like "uh" to "oo" in Taika), that's not a natural process and shouldn't be taken. If someone said "beer-uh-dun" for the composer or philosopher, that really shouldn't be acceptable, and I would hate for a well-intentioned rule like the consonants-correct rule to be abused by someone arguing for that. If both teams are acting in good faith and in the spirit of the game, hopefully that wouldn't be an issue.
What you're ignoring is that if two vowel sounds do not readily change to each other, but both can change to schwa, then people might still legitimately confuse the two. If I hear a word with a schwa in it, I can't figure out how its spelled unless I have additional information, and I might guess the wrong vowel and then pronounce it based on my presumed spelling.
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Re: Pronunciation question

Post by grapesmoker »

We have this discussion every once in a while, and it's generally illuminating, but to put some perspective into the matter, I've been playing quizbowl in college for 8 years now, and the number of times that I remember pronunciation problems arising I think I can count on the fingers of one hand. That's not to say that it doesn't happen, but I'm not sure that it's worth having some kind of rigorous theory of pronunciation acceptability for something that occurs less often than once per tournament. Mike spelled out what I think is the principle of the rule that the pronunciation guidelines are supposed to enforce, and I think it's a totally reasonable one that we should stick to. It's not the letter of the law but the spirit that matters.
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