Sunday, August 17, 2008

H after Z, except after N,B and C

My bewilderment at Olympic sports continued tonight. Alicia Sacramone finished fourth in the vault final Sunday night despite bronze medalist Cheng Fei landing the second of her two vaults on her knees. Sacramone finished .025 points behind Cheng.
“I can’t change her scores,” she said. “The judges made up their minds.”
Cheng Fei. Isn't that furniture arranging? Then, we were treated to Bela Karolyi's "it isn't fair" rant on NBC. If anyone would know how ridiculous gymnastics scoring is, you'd figure he would. There was none of the "that's the way it is" resolution from him. He was practically in tears. I think I understood every other word, which is more than I understand about judging athletic events.
Meanwhile, I'm hearing that the NBC commentators aren't saying Beijing correctly. It's bay-jing, not bey-zhing. Supposedly, the only one saying it correctly is NBC news anchor Brian Williams. All of the voice-over guys and Mister Television, Bob Costas are saying zhing. Now that I know, it bothers me. I would have assumed that NBC would have researched it, but I suppose I expected too much from TV journalists. All they had to do was hit Wikipedia.
"It's been annoying me for quite awhile, honestly," said S. Robert Ramsey, a college professor and author of "The Language of China."
He's not alone, and it isn't just NBC at fault. "For you mousse-coiffed, Mr. Gravitas TV anchor types and you sotto voce public radio types, please oh please stop saying "Bay-zheeng," wrote Kaiser Kuo, who works for a China-based ad agency and wrote an online guide for journalists covering the Olympics. "The pronunciation of the city's name couldn't be easier."
Ramsey said he believed Bay-zhing came into usage because it sounded more foreign, more mysterious. Some in the West may subconciously believe the harder-sounding "jing" sounds like a slur against the Chinese, he said. What strikes him odd is that the "zh" sound isn't used in the English language.
"You have to work to get it wrong," he said
Just like gymnastics.

By the way, the term "sotto voce" (saht'-oh voh-chee') (literally "under voice"), is an Italian expression, means to speak under one's breath. In music, a dramatic lowering of the vocal or instrumental tone - not necessarily pianissimo, but with a hushed quality. I think it's probably over the heads of most of the gang at NBC sports.


Handsome B. Wonderful said...

I can't STAND Bob Costas.

Kate Michele said...

Bela has MADE the coverage of gymnastics!! I love his passion he cracks me up.

i don't get it either


junior alien said...

It's not only the scoring that's ridiculous. ALL the gymnastics stuff is strange. It seems that there is no meaning connected to the contortions they are performing.

But on top of all stands synchronized swimming. When I watch the girls twirl in the water, only one general question forms in my mind: "Why?"
I hope that the girls at least enjoy doing their sport, because for the live viewer it's even hard to see the movements properly as most of them are done under water.