Chris, congratulations on one of the best, if not *the* best, written
position papers I have read on a ham radio reflector. Absolutely well
stated. You, Sir, have a way with words. As an aspiring writer myself, I
respect this greatly.
Following the WRTC 2000, the results probably indicate that the ability to
employ other languages in the middle of a polyglot large ham radio
population base such as central Europe is at best, a second order
determinant. The native English speaking teams did well, and were
distributed fom top to bottom in the scoring rankings. However comparing
the rankings to the WRTC 1996 indcates that there was some lower
distribution of the English speaking teams compared with that W6 based
competition. Some of this is to be expected, with the familiarity of W6
propagation, and the fact that the nearest population center was English
speaking for the most part.
There are benefits and disadvantages of switching from English to other
languages to run additional numbers of the native speakers during certain
band openings. The advantage is clear in that additional numbers of the
native speakers will call the competing team either because they don't
understand them otherwise (in English) or bacause they want to encourage
their national competitors. On the other hand, there will be stations who
normally would call in English, which now will not understand the native
language, and thus both some quantity, but particularily, multipliers, will
be missed. That certain teams develop the capability to switch to other
languages is a competitive advantage over all for sure.
As people have stated, on CW there is no difference unless the team sends
out some unique phrase, which would be illegal. So about half of the
contacts will be on an even keel. On SSB, there are all sorts of ways for
the team to send signals, and probably it's impossible for some teams to
keep from it by means of their distinct accents, and that includes both
native and non-native English speakers.
Is the "forced" use of English is a burden on world class contesters? I
doubt it at this level. The competitors have trained for years, and
virtually all are fluent on contest English on SSB and CW.
My own "take" on this is that "forced English" takes away some of the "home
court advantage" inherent in competition. One can argue this is either
good, or not good. Shouldn't a real Olympics be location neutral.
Probably yes. But a USA venue is not absolutely location neutral, as has
been pointed out. Therefore, my position is that "forced English" is a bad
idea. The unique flavor of various locations is part of the landscape
along with jet lag fatigue, and local food and propagation.
As you concluded, the superior techniques such as team work, keyboard
skills, multiplier passing skils, CW decode capability, SSB decode and
enounciation/speed capability, spotting skills, and propagation/band
selection skills all come into play. The capability to move to other
languages is a known skill in contesting and can produce contacts and
multipliers on the margin.
The referees cannot be from the home countries of any team, and so one can
argue that they might miss some sneaky methods to send signals or otherwise
identify the team members unless English is imposed. But with CW speed
level differences and other nuances, that's impossible if the teams want to
operate in that way on the margins.
This debate is interesting, and the Finns have taken a position.
Personally I support their ability to set the policies. People will have
different perspectives. However until the language matter is found to be
first order determinant of the final ranking, I say viva la difference!
Jim George N3BB
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