Monday, July 23, 2007


The lie of the Tiger

Transcribers of the spoken word face similar challenges to interpreters. Not only do they have to be familiar with their subject-matter and its terminology, they also need the sort of overview that allows them to judge whether what they think they have heard can plausibly be what was actually said.

George Kimball, covering the British Open golf for the Boston Herald, had a story about Tiger Woods and what seemed like a terrible lie that ended up being not so terrible after all and not even a lie.

After a rules official granted Woods an unexpectedly generous drop when his ball nestled on some television cables on the 10th hole in Thursday’s opening round, he was queried about the episode in his post-round interview. The official transcript of the session distributed to the press by the Royal & Ancient included the following exchange:

Q: "Did (the drop) help your lie at all?"

Woods: "No, I dropped a little bit worse, actually."

The Fleet Street press, needless to say, jumped all over this apparent prevarication.

Meaning that it was clear to everybody that Woods's ball was in a much better lie as a result of his free drop, yet here he was apparently claiming the opposite.

In all the Tiger-bashing in yesterday’s papers, the possibility that someone was misquoted apparently didn’t occur to the boys from Fleet Street.

No, Tiger wasn’t misquoted. The questioner was. What Steve Elling of CBS Sportsline asked Woods was whether his line had been improved by the drop, and Tiger replied, accurately, that it had not.

"I know what I asked, and he knew what I asked," said Elling. "He answered the question honestly. It was the transcript that was wrong."

Kimball recalls another similar incident involving the same player and the same tournament, this time turning on transatlantic cultural differences. Whether the same transcriber was responsible we are not told.
Ten years ago, Tiger Woods was playing his first British Open as a professional. Still somewhat unaccustomed to the nuances of the links game, Tiger marveled that sometimes he seemed to be hitting knuckleballs when he struck shots from the heather.

[A knuckleball is a kind of pitch in baseball]

When he met with the press after one of those early rounds, Tiger joked that “a Niekro would have been proud of some of the shots I hit today.”

[Phil and Joe Niekro were renowned exponents of this knuckleball technique].

The interview, of course, was being transcribed by a British stenographer who had no idea what a Niekro - Phil or Joe - was. So when the transcript of the interview was distributed that afternoon, Woods was purported to have said “a negro would have been proud of some of the shots I hit today.”

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?