After the success of Punjabi Hockey Night in Canada, Parminder Singh and Harnarayan Singh will now call Raptors games in the language of north India.
“We did one Raptors game in March and the response was terrific,” says Parminder. “It was even picked up for broadcast in California.”
Starting Nov. 22, the two will call Raptors games televised Sunday on CBC. As with hockey, they’ll air on Rogers, Bell and Shaw cable channels across the country.
In the meantime, the two announcers have to come up with a proper lexicon to describe NBA action. They want their call to be colourful and fast-paced — just like the game — and are sure they can pull it off, with assists to NBA sportscasters like Chuck Swirsky.
Now the voice of the Chicago Bulls, Swirsky called Raptors games for a decade. A pet phrase was “Get out the salami and cheese mama, this ball game is over!”
Parminder will give this a Punjabi spin: “Bebe, bring out the dal and roti … this game’s over.”
Dal is lentil and roti is flatbread, staples in an Indian meal. Bebe is a pet name for grandmothers in Punjabi.
By weaving in Punjabi phrases and terms, the two want to make viewing their Raptors broadcasts a family event.
It worked for hockey.
In its second season, Punjabi Hockey Night In Canada has a national audience of about 100,000, says Parminder. He believes numbers will be equally high for Raptors, the only NBA team in Canada.
According to the 2006 census, Punjabi is fourth among non-official languages used in Canada.
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