October 19, 2009

Bilingual golf


Following up on Thursday's post about "borrowed" English words in Japanese, NHK covered the Japan Open over the weekend. Here's a list of English words (pronounced using Japanese phonetics) I heard after watching for about an hour, after which I gave up keeping track.

approach
bunker
chance/big chance (as in: "He's got a birdie chance.")
club
cut
driver
eagle/birdie/par/bogey/double-bogey
gallery
green
hole
iron
lead/leader
major
nice (as in "Nice shot.")
over/under (for single digits, scores reported using English: "One over," "Three under," etc. I wonder if the dividing line is six.)
pace
par three/four/five (English numbers)
pin
pitch
play
pressure (the commentators loved this word)
putt
ranking
score
shot (English numbers, single-digit)
stroke (English numbers, single-digit)
tee shot
tie
top (of the leaderboard)
tournament
try (as in: "Birdie try.")
up/down (as in "He's one stroke down.")

Oh, and the "open" in "Japan Open" is, of course, "open." At least the holes are identified using Japanese numbers and the ban counter (ichi-ban translates as "number one").

A lot of code switching went on with the non-golf terms. "Third shot" in one sentence became "Dai-san" in the next. I wonder if this linguistic "contamination" is endemic to international sports commentary.

Do the French stick to French when they're just winging it? Perhaps such terminology is more accurately described as a pidgin or "trade language":

A simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups [of people] that do not have a language in common . . . constructed impromptu or by convention.

One other thing I've never seen on the PGA Tour: fluorescent red golf balls. Aesthetically speaking, though, a red golf ball sitting on a green green is harsh on the eyes.

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