Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

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Mike Bentley
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Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by Mike Bentley » Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:43 pm

While reading some NAQT packets today I had the following thought:

Why not specially mark the words that are going to be followed by a pronunciation guide? Maybe make them in a different font, have a slightly different color, etc. so that you can know exactly when they start and skip ahead to the guide if you want to. It seems like this would be easy to do and would make these guides a lot more useful.
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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:50 pm

We're not going to start making people print and copy packets in color just for the PGs.

The font change is a better idea, but it would have to be unobtrusive, which might defeat the purpose.
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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:56 pm

Would underlining work?
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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by stevebahnaman » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:14 pm

Underlining would work for me. Even better might be an asterisk like this *Huitzilopochtli (WEET-zee-low-POACHT-lee). That might be easier on the eyes than underlining too.

Has there been much discussion about adding pronunciation guides to ACF questions? I am sure I can guess the reasons why they're not there (editor nightmare etc.) but MAN they would have helped my novice readers. And you know...me. ACF questions contain not only Huitzilopochtli but Coyolxauhqui and Panquetzaliztli and a million other hard words. Maybe they could be required for hard words, a format could be given, and penalties could be assessed for teams that submit questions without them.
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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by theMoMA » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:24 pm

NAQT could use light gray background shading if they didn't want to print in color.
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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:50 pm

Andrew's suggestion is a good one. We can't use the asterisk because it's already NAQT-standard for the power mark.
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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by grapesmoker » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:57 am

stevebahnaman wrote:Has there been much discussion about adding pronunciation guides to ACF questions? I am sure I can guess the reasons why they're not there (editor nightmare etc.) but MAN they would have helped my novice readers. And you know...me. ACF questions contain not only Huitzilopochtli but Coyolxauhqui and Panquetzaliztli and a million other hard words. Maybe they could be required for hard words, a format could be given, and penalties could be assessed for teams that submit questions without them.
ACF has traditionally opted to do without pronunciation guides. First of all, they don't seem to actually help very much, and I think a lot of readers (myself included) actually find them distracting. Second, they are a very, very low priority because we spend the most time on trying to get questions up to a quality standard, then getting the grammar right. Presumably if there were lots of time remaining after that we might think about pronunciation guides, but that's never happened.

What we'll try to do for Regionals is get packets to hosts at least a day or two in advance. If we can do that, perhaps TDs can sit down with their staff and go over any weird pronunciations (or ask us about it).
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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:12 am

Another question is whether to use some kind of phonetic alphabet, or to try to break it down into small words that everybody agrees on the pronunciation of.
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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:13 am

Hey, as someone who has written literally 1500 pronunciation guides for HSAPQ in the last month, I have a great deal to say about this topic, which I will do on Monday after I finish working on...inserting more pronunciation guides for HSAPQ.
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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by stevebahnaman » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:05 pm

My vote is for small words (or easily soundable syllables) over phonetic alphabet.
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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:08 pm

stevebahnaman wrote:My vote is for small words (or easily soundable syllables) over phonetic alphabet.
As someone who can not pronounce things well (Hello, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad!), I favor this.
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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by jonpin » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:14 pm

grapesmoker wrote:ACF has traditionally opted to do without pronunciation guides. First of all, they don't seem to actually help very much, and I think a lot of readers (myself included) actually find them distracting. Second, they are a very, very low priority because we spend the most time on trying to get questions up to a quality standard, then getting the grammar right. Presumably if there were lots of time remaining after that we might think about pronunciation guides, but that's never happened.
Matt Weiner wrote:Hey, as someone who has written literally 1500 pronunciation guides for HSAPQ in the last month, I have a great deal to say about this topic, which I will do on Monday after I finish working on...inserting more pronunciation guides for HSAPQ.
I think this dual concept makes sense, given the differing audience. College tournaments are almost always staffed by college quiz bowl players. Most of the potentially difficult words are words they're familiar with. Granted, cases like Huitzilopochtli could still sometimes benefit from pronunciation guides, but Jerry is right that it really isn't a high priority.

High school tournaments, on the other hand, are often read by quiz bowl players, but sometimes non-QB teachers, and in more than one case from my past just parents. It's definitely possible for someone unfamiliar with words that come up frequently in QB to mispronounce them. That can result in mistakes ranging from "No, GIR-teh is wrong, it's GO-eth" to those uncomfortable ten-second pauses in the middle of a chemistry tossup to a mispronunciation that one team figures out and the other doesn't.

edit to correct painful typo
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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by Louis XIV and Twenty Million Henchmen » Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:11 pm

As mentioned in the Goethe example, it gets difficult when there are front rounded vowels: I hope nobody ever needs to write a pronunciation guide for a question about Kyösti Pöysti, for instance (not that Finnish cartoons are likely to come up in quizbowl anytime soon, but you know what I mean).

What with that, and NAQT pronunciation guides using certain less-intuitive phonetic spellings (like "aa" for /æ/), maybe it would be easier to use a phonetic alphabet – NAQT is already halfway there. If you use pronunciation guides in the first place, that is. The other question is what to prescribe to the reader as the pronunciation you want them to use: in a pronunciation guide you would probably either have "GÖ-teh" or "GER-teh", but not both; do you want the 'R' there? How "authentically" should any given thing be pronounced? Does it depend on the language? If so, a system for pronunciation guides is likely to be subjective and sort of inconsistent.
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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by Captain Sinico » Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:23 pm

Let's slow our respective rolls here. Random high school parents aren't going to know any standard phonetic alphabet. In fact, I'd bet that adding guides with one would only confuse them further, relative to having nothing at all. Considering which one to use is quixotic in the highest degree.
Fortunately, names of things don't need to be reproduced with exactitude. All we need is to have moderators reproduce most things to a decent degree of approximation, considering that they're being listened to by presumably knowledgeable people with every incentive to try to understand them. It really ought to be possible to accomplish basically full comprehensibility using the simple style of guide widely employed now.
I also agree with the sentiment that pronunciation guides are a (small) net negative for a reader who already knows how to pronounce the words. I'm not sure what to do about that, beyond saying that they shouldn't be necessary for tournaments where one expects almost all experienced readers.

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Re: Formatting of Pronunciation Guides

Post by fleurdelivre » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:20 pm

I'm going to advertise my preference for Guy Tabachnick-style syllable separators, possibly with the accented syllable in all caps, as the simplest way to provide some assistance for those who are unfamiliar with the word without tripping up readers with the extra characters of a pronunciation guide. It clarifies most tricky words (though it would fail on, say, Goethe), and is unobtrusive.
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