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Language & Cultural Impact on Sports Reporting Essay

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Updated: Jan 31st, 2022


We live in a world that is made up of various categories of people from different backgrounds. Sports form a crucial aspect of society. This is because it is a form of employment and at the same time a form of relaxation for employees. It is worth noting that sports are an international phenomenon. Based on this, it is important to ensure that the various regions within the world are able to access sporting activities that take place across the globe. Thus, there is a need to ensure that people from different backgrounds are able to keep up to date with the sporting fraternity. It is on this basis that there is the need to have sports which can reach different masses of people in different ways.

This will ensure that language is not a barrier especially in this regard. Despite the fact that scholarship is aware that translation is a cultural phenomenon, there have been very few instances where there have been studies to align this concept with the prevailing circumstances. This is because the little information which is in existence does not provide tangible information on this subject. The following study seeks to draw attention to the relationship between language, culture, sports reporting, and translation.


Sport is considered to be a social-oriented phenomenon, and, thus, is closely related to language and culture development. In the following paper, such important matters related to sports culture as the relationship between language, culture, and sports reporting, the role of language, the role of mass media in sport, sports activities as important aspects of socialization, Nord’s model of translation and its importance along with some of the examples of sports reporting will be examined. Overall, the paper aims to show some key cultural and social research in the area of translation – namely – to demonstrate how the translation of sporting events reflects a number of cultural and social biases inherent in the original language of the sports journalist and the adoptive language of the translator.

The Relationship between Language, Culture and Sports Reporting

When speaking about the impact of language and culture on sports reporting, one is to keep in mind the relationship between the issues. So, first of all, it should be pointed out that sport is recognized to be the so-called competitive use of physical and mental skills.

Culture and language, in their turn, depend upon each other and seem to facilitate interaction processes between individuals. The thing, which seems to be common for all the issues, is that language, culture, and sport play an important part in human evolution. “Most civilizations know sports activities of an elementary nature: running; boxing; wrestling; animal fights; horse races; throwing the javelin, the discus, or stones; archery; swimming; dancing; etc.” (Beck & Bosshart 2003, p. 3). So, sports activities are considered to be social issues and thus, they are closely related to language and cultural development.

The Role of Language

Generally, the role of language in sports reporting seems to be extremely important, as language skills are recognized to be socially beneficial. For this reason, one can make a conclusion that correct interpretation of sporting events mostly depends on the translator’s/an interpreter’s level of intelligence. Thus, the culture and language of a person, who is engaged in sports translation is one of the key aspects good reporting depends upon.

So, when speaking about the role of the commentator, the translator/an interpreter, one should understand that sports and entertainment cannot be differentiated. Thus, “sports have become an integral source of entertainment for contemporary societies because spectator sports have every single ingredient of delightful entertainment” (Schramm & Klimmt 2003, p. 61).

Sports and Mass Media

Still, when discussing the impact of language and culture on sports reporting, it is necessary to clarify the relationship between sports and television. “Sports and the mass media enjoy a very symbiotic relationship in American society” (McChesney 1989, p. 49). Thus, there is a need to state that television allows the so-called live reporting; so, it gives people an opportunity to feel the atmosphere of a certain event. It becomes obvious that the culture and language of a translator/an interpreter or a commentator are really important, and they impact people’s feeling of being there.

Nobody will deny the important role of television, as it not only supports and dominates sports but also popularizes new sporting fashions. “Societies, however, may include a number of cultures and languages. For example, while the majority of Americans speak English, a significant proportion is Spanish speaking. Even among the English speakers, accents and vocabularies differ by region of the country” (Lazear 1997, p. 1). Thus, any translation of a sporting event carries the full weight of a cultural position, bias, and point of view, not to mention secondary elements of sports preferences and social hierarchy.

Sports Activities and Important Aspects of Socialization

Sports journalists are to think quickly, in order to describe the events they observe at a certain moment. Their thoughts are to be formed immediately; so still, their language proficiency is to be excellent. Of course, in our days, sports journalists are better educated than thirty years ago. However, the most important difference is that today journalists’ main task is to entertain the viewers. “Sports generates news as well as entertainment values” (Beck & Bosshart 2003, p. 27).

Nord’s Model of Translation and its Importance

Nord’s model of translation has been in existence because of the urgent need to introduce a universal theoretical framework that would enable translators to understand the functional elements presented in the content and the structure of the source text (ST) (Nord 2005). Nord’s model of analysis emphasizes the necessity of analyzing situational context and considers the translation process as an act of communication. All these interpretations are justified by the function that the translation bears, including referential, appellative, expressive, and phatic.

The Examples of Sports Reporting (French-English)

Les deux artisans de la légende du tennis masculin de ces dix dernières années façonnaient leur chef d’œuvre au gré d’un match où chaque point était ardemment disputé

‘Artisans’ in the ST was translated as ‘veteran’ in the TT. On first draft, I translated the term ‘artisan’ as ‘journeyman’. ‘Journeyman’ had connotations with individuals who had the necessary set of skills and years of experience in their respective craft. (Wordnik.com 1913). Hence, both players conformed to the ‘journeyman’ description. In the English language, however, a journeyman is commonly used in the context of a ‘trade’ or ‘guild’. Thus, ‘journeyman’ in a tennis context, did not describe a ‘Sports athlete’ with the attributes previously mentioned. As a result, I had to apply tennis general knowledge to the term once again.

Therefore, I chose the term ‘veteran’, as it recognized both the fact that these individuals were ‘sportsmen’ but that they also conformed to the attributes of a ‘journeyman’ or ‘craftsman’. I was not completely satisfied with the term ‘veteran’ but I believed my only other alternative was to drop the metaphor and simply translate the first part of the sentence as “Both legends of the past ten years… etc.”. However, i felt this alternative would not do the ST ‘justice’ (Macmillandictionary.com 1912).

La faute à une amortie pas encore totalement réglée qui, échouant dans le filet

I adopted the idiomatic expression ‘to come up short’ in the TT. In other words, the ‘drop shot’ missed its ‘intended target’. This expression commonly goes hand in hand with the term ‘drop shot’ in a tennis context. Literally translating ‘échouant dans le filet’ (failed in the net) would have seemed ‘clumsy’ in the TT. Therefore, the adopted expression fulfilled its function adequately (Idiomquest.com 2012).

Nadal avait tout à la fois retrouvé sa fougue défensive et sa longueur de balle

‘Tout à la fois’ in the ST was translated in the TT as ‘all of sudden’. This was an effective idiomatic expression to portray ‘suddenly’ or ‘all at once’. (Idioms.thefreedictionary.com 2012).

Deux titans en finale mais c’est Rafael Nadal qui l’emporte à Roland Garros

The term ‘titan’ caused some problems. In the TT, the term was translated as ‘legend’. Although it may have seemed a somewhat ‘simple’ term, it possessed a more loaded meaning. Why did the author of the text not simply use the French word ‘legende’? The term ‘titan’ originated from Greek mythology where titans were Greek Olympians (Thefreedictionary.com 2012).


In conclusion, sports activities are considered to be social issues and, thus, they are closely related to language and cultural development. Evaluating the facts shows that culture and language make sport an interesting and playful process of self-development or self-actualization. In addition, sports can be also regarded as an important aspect of socialization; thus, cultural identities can be developed by sports activities.


Beck, D & Bosshart, L 2003, ‘’, Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture, vol. 22, no 4, pp. 2-43. Web.

Idiomquest. 2012, ‘Come Up Short | Definition by Idiom Quest’. Web.

Idioms.thefreedictionary.com 2012, ‘All of a Sudden – Idioms – by the Free Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia’. Web.

Lazear, E 1997, Culture and Language, Hoover Institution and Graduate School of Business, Stanford University.

Macmillandictionary. 1912, ‘Magic – Definition of Magic by Macmillan Dictionary’. Web.

McChesney, R 1989, Media Made Sport: A History of Sports Coverage, Newbury Park, CA, London, and New Delhi: Sage.

Nord, C 2005, Text Analysis in Translation: Theory, Methodology and Didactic Application of a Model for Translation-Oriented Text Analysis, Rodopi, Amsterdam.

Schramm, H & Klimmt, C 2003, ‘Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel’, Die Rezeption der Fussball-Weltmeisterschaft 2002 im Fernsehen: Eine Panel-Studie zur Entwicklung von Rezeptionsmotiven im Turnierverlauf. Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft, 51, pp. 55-81.

Thefreedictionary. 2012, ‘Titan (Mythology) – Definition of Titan (Mythology) by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia’. Web.

Wordnik.com 1913, ‘Craft – Definition and Meaning’. Web.

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