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MISS UNIVERSE 2005: WHEN ENGLISH PROFICIENCY BECOMES A BLUNDER

    22 January 2021 Friday

    Miss Universe 2005 is taking place on May 31 in Bangkok, Thailand. As an international event, it tries to embrace more delegations by tolerating more cultural differences. The organizing committee even has a special design of swimsuit for delegations from countries which give no permission for their representative to wear bikini for religious or courtesy reasons, for example. It is also proven in the policy for providing translators for those who do not speak English.

    Yet, rules and tolerance are only small parts. The real entertainment will for sure come from the contestants. Each year new delegates give similar impressions upon the viewers: pretty faces talked as if they could save the world, gauche smiles, and for some…bad English. For all those reasons, they have made the Miss Universe pageant a good amusement. But do not dare to look down upon these young ladies. They have passed a tough beauty contest in their own country to prove that they are worthy enough to join this one.



    Beauty is of individual opinion; nonetheless, there is no use to doubt one's when she had won a beauty contest. Intelligence is, on the other hand, another thing. But as most delegates are highly educated, they cannot be too dumb to give responds to the frequently asked questions on the interview session, such as: "Name one person, other than your parents, who has had the most influence on your life. Why?" or "What do you see yourself doing ten years from now?" We cannot avoid but to conclude that they must have been prepared for such questions. Yet, many still showed uneasiness that they failed in making up any good answers.



    The lovely Miss Hungary Szandra Proksa is among them. It was obvious that she was too nervous to talk during the interview. Why is that? Pressure is one thing; but there is also another interesting fact that mostly it happened to delegates who come from non-English speaking countries. Now the main source of this is perhaps because they have to speak in English, which is not their mother tongue.



    When Proksa was asked about the most interesting or unique thing that has ever happened to her (aside from winning her title) and/or what the most interesting thing about her would be, she said, "I have already managed to complete 2 language exams, in German and in English". It is then understandable that she wanted to prove her ability in speaking English. However, this is the result:



    Question: "What do you want the rest of the world to know about your country?"

    Proksa : "My country err is in central europe...err, I like err… my country very much (giggle). Err…err… (short pause) this err country isn't too big. My country is in Balaton. Balaton (giggle) is the biggest err… (short pause) lake err..in central europe."



    Let us now see what other non English speaker delegates say during interview:



    Miss Czech Rapublic Katerina Smejkalova



    Question: "What do you want the rest of the world to know about your country?"

    Smejkalova: "In My country…err..I think Prague is a very nice city err..with lots of beautiful sightseeing. So I hope that you will be with it."



    Miss Indonesia Artika Sari Devi



    Question: "What do you want the rest of the world to know about your country?"

    Devi : "The latest fad in my country is the movie maker. You know (giggle) as everybody err..you know…many young ppl…try to uhm..make movie..err..because…err..they believe that this is.. it is the way to express uhm their idea and to express their their opinion and yeah and I think it is success because uhmmm you know the young generation in Indonesia are really like to uhmm enjoy the movie and to gather something value or meaningful in that film. So err and, I for me the movie gave a like moral support or uhmmm like a share experience…"



    It is more likely that they could have thought of better answers in their own daily language. One does not even need a diploma in order to be able to answer such questions. The English native speakers of course could reply better without the long pause and err and the uhm we heard from the above list (and some more).



    Yet, there is no such a thing as absolute fairness, is it? Even in choosing a language can cause jeopardy. If one opted to speak in her mother tongue, people would think she was stupid because she could not speak English. On the contrary, if she did use English then people would in respond compare it to the natives who can possibly speak English as fluent as CNN anchor women. The best would be that each one had to speak in a foreign language. However, it would cause another chaos in the management.



    Overall, this is not about fairness, it is just a damn beauty pageant. Back in 2003, Amelia Vega spoke Spanish when she was crowned as Miss Universe. Many people did watch the show at that time; and many more will this year. All for their own reasons: triumph, national pride, simply pretty faces, hilariousness; that is where silly judgments are made. No matter what language one will be using, the least she can do is to fight their own nervousness and be her best. You go girls!




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