June 27, 2006

Jeopardy Report

We're watching Jeopardy, and they're doing pretty well on the language front. In the language category, the contestants got all five questions right, and the Jeopardy folks didn't make any real mistakes either. My only quarrel with the questions is a quibble. They described Cantonese as having nine tones, in contrast to the four of Mandarin. That is sort of true, but we usually count only six tones for Cantonese because three of the phonetic tones are predictable variants that occur in syllables closed by a stop.

However, Alex Trebek needs to work on his Japanese pronounciation. One clue in the Japanese-American relations category contained the word heiwa 平和 "peace". Alex pronounced it [hajwa], as if it had the same first syllable as "highway". Actually, it's [he:wa], with the first syllable more like "hay". It's the same first syllable as in heisei 平成, the reign name of the present emperor.

Posted by Bill Poser at June 27, 2006 10:46 PM