Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Don't Rix Your Reputation With Bad Pronunciation

Despite this being a decidedly geeky/nerdy blog, I have made no secret of my love for sports. The level at which I played organized sports as a kid didn't go past high school. I don't play them casually much anymore either, though perhaps that will change as my sons get more into them and I can compete against them without pretending to be a complete bumbling idiot to make them feel good. I get all fired up watching them still and I don't think that makes me any less of a geek.

On the contrary, in today's world I firmly believe that geekdom and sports can coexist more peacefully now than at any other time in history. Fantasy sports give true, completely uncoordinated geeks the chance, the kind who began hyperventilating a full two periods before Gym, to feel like they are actually part of a team. Everyone has a chance to pore over numbers and statistics and try to predict trends. On top of that, it gives everyone an opportunity to criticize the performance of someone they believe should be doing better. What could be more geeky than statistical analysis and criticism resulting from it?

Thus, for years, I have proudly considered myself both geek and sports fan and feel equally invested in both aspects of my personality. What is more, I see this trend strongly represented in the public eye. Bob Costas and Mike Greenberg are perhaps the nerdiest of the popular sportscasters. Local sports radio hosts across the country are becoming geekier and geekier too as I personally heard the work of Joss Whedon and discussion of the background history of Thor worked flawlessly into a conversation just last week.

However, every now and then, though I try hard to avoid it, I am forced to pick a side. My geek and my sports fan enter the Thunderdome. As everyone knows, when two enter, one leaves.

The word asterisk has been claimed by the world of sports. Since the MLB steroid scandal, sports casters and personalities everywhere want to talk about whose name and whose stats should have a asterisk placed next to them. I don't care so much that they have been using it a lot. That's fine. In fact, it used to be one of my favorite words, though its overuse has led me to feel similarly about it as I do a popular song overplayed on the radio. It now takes a definite back seat to riboflavin.

The issue I have with the sports world absconding the word asterisk is the rampant mispronunciation of it. I constantly hear, "asterix," or, "astericks," depending on your preferred phonetic spelling. I'm not the grammar police. I make mistakes all the time, like the fact that I probably should have just capitalized both grammar and police in that last sentence. I am a staunch supporter, however, of pronouncing words you decide to use correctly, especially if it is a part of your job.

Should you decide to say the word asterisk in relation to a conversation regarding any sport, please pronounce it right. The s comes before the k. Should you have a problem remembering it, here's a tip. Aster, like the flowering plant, and Risk, like the game of strategic conquest. If that doesn't help you say it right, I don't know what more I can do. Maybe you should axe someone else for help.

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