Language rules

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Language rules

Post by bsmith »

Disclaimer: I'm not trying to "stir the pot" with a hypothetical situation, this issue is coming from an actual person.

Quizbowl in North America is conducted in English, though there are no actual rules about this. The only ACF rule about language specifies that created works must be answered in the original language or an accepted English translation (rule G3); NAQT only has the rule outlined by ACF and a similar one for geographic place names (rules C24 and C18 of the correctness guidelines).

U of Ottawa (and a few others) is a bilingual institution, and we occasionally have bilingual participants whose native tongue is French. For most of our club's history, we only had one francophone regular (Philippe), and he eventually became comfortable with giving answers in English. Now we have a new francophone and, even though he listens to the questions in English, he is giving French answers roughly half the time. I don't speak French, but between himself and other members of the club, his answer gets translated so I can check if he gave the right response. This is a non-issue for practice, but he could potentially be going with us to ACF Fall or the SCT.

For common noun answers (eg: saying "coeur" for "heart"), I was usually prepared to lobby on a francophone's behalf on the basis of "acceptable alternative" and the lack of language rules. This new player, however, is giving the French for specifically outlawed categories (eg: "Allemagne" for "Germany"), because that's what he was taught throughout school.

I'm aware that:
a) the existing language rules are only there to avoid writing thousands of translations for each answer
b) this only applies to very few people (unless international exchange students start playing more) and
c) only cold-hearted people would protest a non-anglophone answering in their native language (opponents were very accommodating when Philippe attended the ICT),
but I believe there should be some sort of rule to protect non-anglophones' answers from sticklers flaunting the official rules. As it stands, Le conte de deux cités is "illegal". Writing thousands of answer translations would not be necessary, but I believe native speakers should be allowed to demonstrate that they are right if an issue heads to the protest room (such as through something as simple as a web search).

Yes, this could be exploited, but what do we say to those who have had an entire education outside of English?


For clarification: I'm not lobbying for foreign-language questions in quizbowl.
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Re: Language rules

Post by Captain Sinico »

I can't really see any reason why tournaments shouldn't make every effort to accept answers in the language of a speaker. This may introduce some practical difficulties, but I think they're eminently solvable.

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Re: Language rules

Post by Matt Weiner »

If I am moderating and I hear someone give a French answer for a common English noun, I'll probably assume they are trying to answer and prompt them so that they can just give me the English. I imagine that 99% of the time, someone who can follow all the clues for "heart" in English will also be able to produce the word. If not, then it can be taken up as a protest, and I don't see why it should not be accepted at that point if it is indeed a correct and unambiguous translation.
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Re: Language rules

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

I don't think that the language rules are there to screw over foreigners or people from different cultures.

That said, I can certainly see this being exploitable. Moderators who are not speakers of a high-prestige language (such as French, which is associated with classiness, or Latin and Greek, which are associated with having a sophisticated education) may be prone to being irrationally deferential to a person who answers in a high-prestige language, out of a fear of being tagged as somebody who doesn't understand that language (especially if the prestige language speaker has teammates who also speak the language, or credibly claim to speak it, who lobby on his behalf that it is correct). I think Matt's idea of treating it as a protest reduces the risk of this kind of exploitation.
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Re: Language rules

Post by lasercats »

I would most likely ask for a prompt unless it's a cognate. It would be fine for me because I speak French, but I could see it being difficult if a player answered in Spanish, Chinese, etc.
As long as you fill the moderator and the coach of the other team in on his situation I don't think it would be a huge problem. The opposing team will likely have a French speaker anyway, if not several. I would also suggest bringing along a French-English dictionary, in the event of protests.
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Re: Language rules

Post by grapesmoker »

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:I don't think that the language rules are there to screw over foreigners or people from different cultures.

That said, I can certainly see this being exploitable. Moderators who are not speakers of a high-prestige language (such as French, which is associated with classiness, or Latin and Greek, which are associated with having a sophisticated education) may be prone to being irrationally deferential to a person who answers in a high-prestige language, out of a fear of being tagged as somebody who doesn't understand that language (especially if the prestige language speaker has teammates who also speak the language, or credibly claim to speak it, who lobby on his behalf that it is correct). I think Matt's idea of treating it as a protest reduces the risk of this kind of exploitation.
I can't imagine that anyone is actually going to try and somehow exploit being a non-native English speaker, or that the moderator would just defer to someone instead of using his or her best judgment. I think we should reasonably accommodate speakers of other languages who have trouble with English, so that if they need to give an answer in their native tongue for some reason, we can accept that after verification. This issue does seem to me to be localized to places like Canada with a large part of the population being bilingual, but I guess it could come up in the context of a Spanish speaker playing in the States or something like that.
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Re: Language rules

Post by alkrav112 »

Or we could just be like the LPGA and, out of the blue, mandate that everyone has to speak English if they're going to play on "our tour." What with all the sponsors we need to cater to...

Oh wait. The LPGA realized that was a bad idea (because it is).
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Re: Language rules

Post by Mike Bentley »

alkrav112 wrote:Or we could just be like the LPGA and, out of the blue, mandate that everyone has to speak English if they're going to play on "our tour." What with all the sponsors we need to cater to...

Oh wait. The LPGA realized that was a bad idea (because it is).
There are rules in yacht racing like this. If you're involved in a protest in a regatta in Japan, you can request that the protest be done in English despite that not being the native language in the country.
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Re: Language rules

Post by evilmonkey »

grapesmoker wrote:
Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:This issue does seem to me to be localized to places like Canada with a large part of the population being bilingual, but I guess it could come up in the context of a Spanish speaker playing in the States or something like that.
Or someone who grew up in Asia and moved to America... I have a Taiwanese girl and Chinese guy on my team, and they make the effort whenever they can to answer in english, but sometimes they only know it in their native language. IMO, the moderators are generally understanding in this regard.
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Re: Language rules

Post by vetovian »

Ben can correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've heard from other graduates, the University of Ottawa is a bilingual institution to such a degree that in every class, students can choose to take their tests in either of the official languages. (I don't know if there are other universities in Canada that allow this, but I'm pretty sure Ottawa is the biggest one that does.) This means that even if all the lectures for your class have been in English, you can still take your tests in French. This custom would explain why it would occur to a student there to give answers in French to quiz bowl questions that are read in English.
bsmith wrote: Yes, this could be exploited, but what do we say to those who have had an entire education outside of English?
I've actually been in a comparable situation, many years ago, as a former Génie en Herbe. This was a high-school quiz show in French. In B.C., where I played, there were one or two French immersion schools participating, and a handful of players who had lived in Quebec or France, but otherwise, most of us had had our entire education in English. We saw the fact that it was in French as being part of the challenge. So we didn't have a lot of sympathy when someone on another team answered (for example) "deoxyribonucleic acid" and it was accepted (though grudgingly), when the player could have guessed some francized form like "acide deoxyribonucléique". It kind of detracted from the game. So I don't think it's unfair to require that answers be given in English when quiz bowl is played in English: it's just part of the game.
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Re: Language rules

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Why don't you just kick Quebec out already?
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Re: Language rules

Post by bsmith »

vetovian wrote:This means that even if all the lectures for your class have been in English, you can still take your tests in French. This custom would explain why it would occur to a student there to give answers in French to quiz bowl questions that are read in English.
The U of O policy on tests is true, but I don't think that's an explanation. Other posters gave examples of Spanish or international students where they are required to complete tests in English, but would be able to come up with quizbowl answers in their language first rather than English. Written exams usually give more time for recalling and translating into English than the fast pace of quizbowl.
vetovian wrote:I've actually been in a comparable situation, many years ago, as a former Génie en Herbe. This was a high-school quiz show in French. In B.C., where I played, there were one or two French immersion schools participating, and a handful of players who had lived in Quebec or France, but otherwise, most of us had had our entire education in English. We saw the fact that it was in French as being part of the challenge. So we didn't have a lot of sympathy when someone on another team answered (for example) "deoxyribonucleic acid" and it was accepted (though grudgingly), when the player could have guessed some francized form like "acide deoxyribonucléique". It kind of detracted from the game. So I don't think it's unfair to require that answers be given in English when quiz bowl is played in English: it's just part of the game.
In the end, an English response in the French game was accepted, yes? I think most people agree that there should be some form of accommodation for non-English speakers... except you in your last statement. I don't believe that answering in English should be "part of the challenge" of quizbowl. The goal of quizbowl is not to promote or protect the English language (unlike what might be the case for the French game in BC). Until there is an established circuit for other languages (such as in debate), the English circuit should recognize that non-native speakers will show up every now and then, and welcome them as best as possible. Yes, there may be "translation protests" for clarifications, but players shouldn't be denied simply based on their ability to recall knowledge in English.

Anyway, one of my original points was that there are rules for answering in English (or the original language) for certain types of questions. I believe those rules were written with the intent of an English audience (presumably, an analogy for Germany would be "German or the original language"), but there are people out there who would have a legitimate case for answering some tossups in French or Spanish or another language.
Constantin Constantius wrote:Why don't you just kick Quebec out already?
Philippe was from Quebec, but our new player isn't. There are other parts of the country where French is the dominant language.
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Re: Language rules

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

So I don't think it's unfair to require that answers be given in English when quiz bowl is played in English: it's just part of the game.
Yeah dude, this is retarded. Just because you didn't like it in high school doesn't mean that we should be putting extra burdens on people's ability to play good quizbowl just because of where or how they happened to be born and raised, which is just plain beyond their control. It may already be a challenge enough for them to be able to follow along in English, who knows? In any case, making something that can be difficult (translating in your head) even more difficult is not what I think anyone in good quizbowl wants to support.
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Re: Language rules

Post by fleurdelivre »

I'm all for being as generous as possible in rewarding accurate knowledge...that and I'm still bitter about negging a Horatii tossup because I only knew the answer from an art history class I'd taken in French and couldn't convert "Le Serment des Horaces" into something appropriately Latin.
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Re: Language rules

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Wouldn't that be acceptable anyway?
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Re: Language rules

Post by cvdwightw »

Constantin Constantius wrote:Wouldn't that be acceptable anyway?
Seeing as it's a French painting and such, I'd assume it would be (or does that rule only apply to books and film?).

I'm all for Matt's common-sense rules for moderator discretion:
1. If it clearly sounds like the player is responding in another language, prompt him/her.
2. If the player subsequently can't come up with the answer, or the moderator doesn't recognize the given answer as being from a non-English language, the moderator should award a neg and the player should protest. Protest resolution committees should endeavor to find someone else who speaks the language, and if the given answer matches what's on the page, within reasonable limits of translation, then points should be awarded.
3. Players who abuse this rule (e.g. answering something completely ridiculous in another language because they can't remember the answer, getting prompted because the moderator doesn't speak the language, and then finally coming up with the right answer) should be blacklisted.
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Re: Language rules

Post by vetovian »

bsmith wrote:In the end, an English response in the French game was accepted, yes?
Yes, but I think only for the same reason that in a game in English, an answer of "acide, désoxyribonucléique" would be accepted by game officials who don't know any French: that particular answer would actually fit NAQT's rules for accepting modifiers and mispronunciations.
bsmith wrote:I think most people agree that there should be some form of accommodation for non-English speakers... except you in your last statement. I don't believe that answering in English should be "part of the challenge" of quizbowl. The goal of quizbowl is not to promote or protect the English language (unlike what might be the case for the French game in BC).
I hadn't really thought of it that way (that one of the goals of Génies en herbe in B.C. was to promote the French language), but I see your point. Maybe it's just that I put more weight on what one might call respect for the audience: if you can only give the answer in a different language, then you might as well not give it at all (with the exception of original titles of works in other languages).
bsmith wrote:Until there is an established circuit for other languages (such as in debate), the English circuit should recognize that non-native speakers will show up every now and then, and welcome them as best as possible. Yes, there may be "translation protests" for clarifications, but players shouldn't be denied simply based on their ability to recall knowledge in English.
In practices, you can work on this, but at the level of a national tournament? I think this would be more trouble than it's worth, and would inevitably cause some amount of resentment against the people who benefit from it. Also, I'm sure there are even some native English speakers who for some reasons (being well-traveled, say) might on some occasions first think of an answer in another language before they can recall what it's called in English.
bsmith wrote:Anyway, one of my original points was that there are rules for answering in English (or the original language) for certain types of questions. I believe those rules were written with the intent of an English audience (presumably, an analogy for Germany would be "German or the original language"), but there are people out there who would have a legitimate case for answering some tossups in French or Spanish or another language.
If you're going to allow answers in other languages, but only if it's French, or only if it's Spanish, then that should be a lot more practical than allowing for all players' mother tongues or languages of previous education.
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Re: Language rules

Post by Mike Bentley »

Peter: On an unrelated note, do you have contact information from people who attended VETO this year? I'm trying to get in contact with them in regards to starting a circuit in the northwest. Please e-mail me at [email protected]. Thanks.
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Re: Language rules

Post by Jeremy Gibbs Sampling »

cvdwightw wrote:I'm all for Matt's common-sense rules for moderator discretion:
1. If it clearly sounds like the player is responding in another language, prompt him/her.
2. If the player subsequently can't come up with the answer, or the moderator doesn't recognize the given answer as being from a non-English language, the moderator should award a neg and the player should protest. Protest resolution committees should endeavor to find someone else who speaks the language, and if the given answer matches what's on the page, within reasonable limits of translation, then points should be awarded.
3. Players who abuse this rule (e.g. answering something completely ridiculous in another language because they can't remember the answer, getting prompted because the moderator doesn't speak the language, and then finally coming up with the right answer) should be blacklisted.
I'm giving a 30-second clock-killing neg out of a random Russian text at the next timed tournament that does this. Hey, my last name is Arsenoff; I must be sort of Slavic.
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Re: Language rules

Post by dtaylor4 »

The Golden Trough wrote:I'm giving a 30-second clock-killing neg out of a random Russian text at the next timed tournament that does this. Hey, my last name is Arsenoff; I must be sort of Slavic.
Just so you know, NAQT has killed the clock-killing neg.
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Re: Language rules

Post by Captain Sinico »

Thus, you should definitely employ this stratagem!

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Re: Language rules

Post by grapesmoker »

dtaylor4 wrote:
The Golden Trough wrote:I'm giving a 30-second clock-killing neg out of a random Russian text at the next timed tournament that does this. Hey, my last name is Arsenoff; I must be sort of Slavic.
Just so you know, NAQT has killed the clock-killing neg.
Does that mean that the last tossup gets read to completion no matter what? I was not aware of this change, but it's surely a good thing.
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Re: Language rules

Post by The Goffman Prophecies »

grapesmoker wrote:Does that mean that the last tossup gets read to completion no matter what? I was not aware of this change, but it's surely a good thing.
See here.
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Re: Language rules

Post by Captain Sinico »

Yeah. R. announced that earlier here, before the thread was converted to a myth answer acceptability discussion. Essentially, matches are played on what were formerly the invisible clock rules.

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Re: Language rules

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

In practices, you can work on this, but at the level of a national tournament? I think this would be more trouble than it's worth, and would inevitably cause some amount of resentment against the people who benefit from it. Also, I'm sure there are even some native English speakers who for some reasons (being well-traveled, say) might on some occasions first think of an answer in another language before they can recall what it's called in English.
Wouldn't a national tournament have far more resources and people available to resolve the protest?
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Re: Language rules

Post by fleurdelivre »

Constantin Constantius wrote:Wouldn't that be acceptable anyway?
If you're asking me, the question was on the historical figures, not the David painting, so no. I didn't know any name for them outside the French, though...not that I'll ever forget it now.
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Re: Language rules

Post by vetovian »

Victor Eremita wrote: Wouldn't a national tournament have far more resources and people available to resolve the protest?
Yes, but it's also where the stakes are highest.
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Re: Language rules

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

What the hell kind of logic is that?
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Re: Language rules

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

vetovian wrote:
Victor Eremita wrote: Wouldn't a national tournament have far more resources and people available to resolve the protest?
Yes, but it's also where the stakes are highest.
Right, so people would be more motivated to get to the truth and avoid an erroneous decision.
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Re: Language rules

Post by grapesmoker »

Constantin Constantius wrote:What the hell kind of logic is that?
You have to remember that Peter's arguments come from an alternate quizbowl universe, so the fact that something doesn't make sense here, in our world, has nothing to do with the internal consistency of the logic on Quizbowl Persei VIII.

Look, it's very simple: quizbowl is a game about learning, not about rules jockeying. Obviously, having everyone communicate in English is logistically the most efficient thing, but situations can and apparently do arise when someone might need to give an answer in another language. There is nothing wrong with this, they are still players who are trying to demonstrate their knowledge, and if for whatever reason they are not fluent in English, we should make a good-faith effort to accommodate them to the extent that this is reasonable within the confines of the game. You know, because that's what it makes sense to do.
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