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MISS UNIVERSE 2005: WHEN ENGLISH PROFICIENCY BECOMES A BLUNDER

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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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  • Adi

    Artika, I’m supporting you. I believe that you will be a winner in that contest. I proud with you.

  • william george

    Dear Judges,
    I have a feeling that since the contest is taken place in Bangkok and apparently most of the jdges are from Thailand the chances of crowing Miss Thailand or USA is of more chances.Which s not right way of the judges mind and policy.

  • smock7

    1. Billy Bush presented Ms. Canada as the lone representative from North America in the final 5 contestants. “Now we welcome Ms. Canada, representing North America all by herself”. Technically, she was one of four from North America (others were Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico), and South America was the only continent with one representative (Venezuela), with all the other scoring zero. None from Asia, Africa, or Europe.

    2. The only reason Mr. Bush got confused, is because he is heavily afflicted with whitepeopledom, whereas white people believe that anyone with brown skin is from a different continent. It is an honest mistake.

    3. Ms. Canada went on to win, not because she was the prettiest (not even close to Mexico, Puerto Rico, or the Domincan Republic), but because the Latin vote saturated itself out. If there had been any Asians or Africans, or hell, even an Eastern European, it would have likely boosted the Latin vote so that one of them would have been elected. As with most elections, however, this one left the worst possible option on top.

    4. There could be nothing more painful to watch then the question-answer session held with each of the final contestants. It is like dragging the bottom of your front teeth along a chalkboard.

    5. The United States Virgin Islands won Ms. Congeniality, which is an off-shoot handed out during the middle of the ceremony to the nicest girl, I guess. Is the US Virgin Islands even a country? What could it be more than a set of nicely arranged resorts? How does that constitute a nation? Why does it have the United States in front of it? Doesn’t that just mean it is in our country? So how do they get a representative in the Miss Universe Pagent? Is it hard to imagine that a fake nation made up of resorts won Miss Congeniality? She probably works at a front desk somewhere in her “country”.

    6. Carson Kressely of Queer Eye for The Straight Guy was one of the judges (along with a smorgasbord of Latin soap stars), which had me wonder how a gay guy chooses the most beautiful woman in the whole planet. Does he look for the one who would be most willing to sit with him for hours and listen to him bitch about lovers leaving him feeling empty? I am starting to understand why Canada won.

    7. Billy Bush’s affinity for ad lib is a painful lesson in things done poorly by horrible people.

    8. The contest was sponsored by Donald Trump. The winner is basically imprisoned for a year under a Trump contract, forced to live in a Trump tower and drink Trump water, most likely going to Trump magazine events and Apprentice promotions. Why the hell would a pretty girl from Maldives want to be a Trump stooge? No wonder Canada won.

    9. Along with being a beauty contest the broadcast was also a tourist ad for Thailand, where the contest was being held. Who knows what Trump plans to do with Thailand, how he envisions fucking it all up.

    10. After all of these years, and as stupid as you become over the course of a couple of hours, I still find myself watching this thing.

  • sydney

    Whats with your apparent dislike of Miss CAnada, homosexuals, and Canada the country?

    I don;t get your motivation?

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    Is the US Virgin Islands even a country?

    A second or two of Google inquiry would lead you to the answer.

  • Bob

    Canada would be a lovely country, if it weren’t for all the damn Canadians! ;)

  • Bennett

    Whatever else, the teeth across the chalkboard line is great!

  • sydney

    Well, I don;t like the competition in the first place. Its such a superficial bullshit thing. And the contestents are all retarted. I really laugh at how they all do this charity work (for all the right reasons, I’m sure).

    But no need to single out miss Canada. She’s no dumber than the rest.

  • Greg

    Interesting article, #3. I’m a Miss America/Miss USA/Miss Universe fan. I’m also gay.

    1. I completely agree with your assessment on Billy Bush’s mistakes about the “South American Onslaught” in the top 5. Whitepeopledom. I’ll have to use that in the future.

    2. I disagree with your statement about the reason Canada won. She won because she was the most beautiful and statuesque…according to the overall judges’ subjectives. She was also final question worthy. I don’t believe it comes down to how mixed or unmixed the top 5 is.

    3. (Bragging) I chose Canada as the winner, Puerto Rico 1st runner-up, Venezuela 2nd, Mexico 3rd, and Dominican Republic 4th (mixing up Venezuela and Dominican Republic). And those 5 girls were my top 5 as well with USA and Latvia as alternates. I also chose 9 of the top 10 with Greece being my choice instead of Israel, but Israel was my alternate choice, so I wasn’t too disappointed.

    4. One can be homosexual and still choose who he thinks is the most beautiful woman in the world. Straight women do it (unless all the women on the judges’ panel are lesbian), and straight men are capable of choosing or pointing out a good looking guy. I know I love judging beauty pageants and comparing the women’s swimsuits, evening gowns, and interview skills. I have no desire to date, become romantic with, or sleep with any of them, but that makes me no less qualified to chose the best.

  • dl

    smock7 is a jackass. USVI is a U.S. territory, not a state, not an independent country. Our status allows us to enter international competitions like the Olympics, Miss Universe, etc… Just like Puerto Rico, Guam, or any British territory.