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Language and Culture Impacts on Sports Reporting Essay


Sport is one of the social events that have seen a great transformation. Many of the traditional games have disappeared, and in their places, there have emerged new ones. One such game that has come to dominate the world from non-existence is Tennis. This game, which is very popular in France and many other regions around the world, has drawn fans who speak different languages.

Although there are some tournaments played in France during the season, the game is always watched by many fans across the world. Others who do not get the opportunity to watch the game live would rely on the written or recorded information to get a clear picture of the whole event. Communication is a very important aspect of humanity. Without communication, several processes would be broken down completely.

According to Bassnett (2002, p. 56), communication ensures that people stay in harmony as one individual can express themselves properly to others. Through this expression, two individuals can share their mind and work as a unit. Communication among humankind dates back to the early Stone Age period.

During this stage of development of humankind, there was a need to cooperate during such occasions as hunting and gathering, and when with their families. They had to warn their young ones over the dangers that lurked in the forest. The man had not developed language then; hence, they had to use drawings, signs, and gestures to pass desired communication (Widdowson 1979, p. 12).

The evolution of man saw him evolve in various other aspects. One such aspect was language use. The man started making sounds of passing specific information to one another. Communications evolved until that time language was developed during the late Stone Age. Further development of the language would occur during the developmental stage of humankind.

As man developed, language became clearly defined. Humans could use language effectively to express the ideas he had. One intriguing fact about language that man is yet to comprehend is the existence of numerous languages across the world. It has been difficult to explain how the numerous current languages came into existence.

Beaugrande (1994, p. 70) points out the fact that within such a small geographical location as Russia (as a nation), there are several languages that are in use. This is very evident in developing countries. It is common phenomena to find that within one country, there are over sixty different languages in use. However, in some countries like Britain, English has been accepted as the main language.

Almost all British know this language as their first language. However, even within the entire United Kingdom, there exists some difference in the languages’ dialect for example Welsh. One language that has managed to dominate the world is English. This is the most common language in the world, in terms of the number of countries speaking it.

Spread during the reign of Great Britain as the world power, this language is spoken in several countries across the world. Another language that has a wide coverage is French. It is also spoken in several other countries other than the country of origin. Sport is one of the events that heavily depend on communication.

The players on the fields need to communicate with each other to work as a team. Currently, many sports are reported on radios, televisions, newspapers, and magazines, language has been a major concern. A game played in France would most likely be reported in French. Similarly, a match played in English Speaking World would most likely be reported in English.

Due to the growing popularity of different sports in different countries across the world, there has been a need to have a method of translating one language to another. Several researchers have done a lot of research in this field, and their findings have widely been published.

According to Reiss and Vermeer (1984, p. 21), when translating a piece of information from one language to another, the most important factor to observe is that the original meaning is kept. The information as translated should bear in content, to the original information from which it was translated. This is the first item that such a piece of translation should observe. One of the widely used models of translation is Nord’s model of translation.

In this study, I intend to critically evaluate the importance of translation of sports report, from one language to another, critically analysing existing theories, models and other literatures to develop findings that would be useful both to other researchers in this and other related field, other scholars or general individuals who may have a concern about this field. To help bring a clear focus in this process, I have used tennis as the sport whose report would need a translation.

Application of Nord’s Model to Translation

Many scholars have developed several theories upon which the translation process can be based. These theories vary in their demand. For example, Karl Buehler came up with a theory to help in the process of translation. This theory holds that three basic functions of a language exist. These functions are appellative, expressive, and referential (Pym 1993, p. 187).

The appellative function of the language refers to the appeal that a given speech would have towards the audience. How well will it be received by the target audience? Expressive function, on the other hand, refers to how well the speaker articulates his or her message to the target audience. It can be seen that appellative function has a heavy reliance on expressive function.

How the target audience would receive a message depends on how well the sender encodes it. Referral function refers to the meaning of a given message. It is the idea being passed to the target audience. Nord’s model is based on the above three fundamentals, in addition to one other fundamental which is phatic function.

As stated in the above discussion, Nord’s model is very popular among many translators. This is specifically so because, as Nord (2005, p. 33)explains, it allows translators to translate works from one language to another without having a deep understanding of either of the two languages involved in the translation, as long as each word can be translated from the source text to the target text.

The guiding principle of this model is loyalty to the original text. Nord’s model would apply in my translation because of various factors. Tennis is a game that is well developed around the world. In both languages, technical terms of tennis exist in both languages.

Although this game has its epicenter in France, it is well understood in other English speaking nations, and therefore almost all the French terminologies have their direct translation in English (Nord 1997, p. 23). For example, the phrase ‘men’s singles final’ was directly translated from the original text, which read as ‘simple messieurs definite.’ As per the principle of Nord’s model, the emphasis is laid on the loyalty to the original text.

As seen above, I did not change most of the words, but only picked their equivalent in English. This was to ensure originality so that English readers would have the same meaning, as would the French. However, direct translation, as advocated for by this model, may be a little challenging to apply in some terms.

Taking the word ‘clay court’ as translated in the above text; its direct translation back to French will give the exact meaning, which should be ‘le court de Terre battue.’ As Gentzler (2001, p. 43) observes, Nord’s model is more applicable in learning the translation process and translation done by individuals who are in their early stages of learning translation.

Although the above text applies Nord’s model in various places as explained below, it can be evidenced that in some instances like the above case, it deviates from this rule a little. This is important for two reasons. The first reason is that in the process of translation, it is important that the translator realize that the ultimate goal of the process is to have the meaning, the content of the text, and not the words in their literal meaning translated from the original language to the desired language.

Although at times it may be possible to deduce the meaning of what is meant through such translation of specific words in their literal meaning, the communication may lack the coherence, which was in the original text. The other important factor that needs to be observed in the process of translation is the emotions raised by a given text.

It is important to note that in translating a report on such an event as sports, emotions play a very important role. Sports are about emotions (Vinay & Darbelnet 1995, p. 338). As can be seen from the beginning of the above text, the reader is left wondering how they progressed.

Even though the heading of the report source text reveals the person that emerged the winner (a fact that should be avoided in good writing to boost suspense), the report starts with a clear, emotive paragraph. This would be difficult to achieve if Nord’s model is to be used as per its demand for the loyalty of the text.

The above text, though heavily borrowed from Nord’s model as can be witnessed in its content, deviated a little in some occasions from the original text to express the exact meaning and raise similar emotions as those in the text. Colson (1993, p 431) states that although Nord’s Model has received a lot of criticism from the current theories of translation, it has remained relevant and a number of the critics have heavily borrowed from it to join their models.

According to Colson, Nord’s model forms the basis of the current models of translation. This statement is very valid, as witnessed in the above-translated text. It has heavily applied the use of Nord’s theory to develop the final translated text. However, it is worth appreciating that this model came into existence because there was an urgent need at that time to have a formal way of translation.

Currently, there is a genuine need to have better guides for translation. If an individual fails to realize that the context under which this phrase is made is a tennis match, they may not correctly translate this word back to its original meaning. Buhler, Goodwin, and Eschbach (1990, p. 353)state that success of a translation would be gauged by the ability of the translated word to resume their original meaning if translated back to the original language.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Nord’s Model

Nord’s model came at a time when there was a great need to have a formal method through which translation would be based. In this period, there was a great interaction of people from different cultures, and this socialization process required some translation of texts from the source language to the target text. Before this model came into existence, there were other theories of translation that existed before.

Texts were being translated from one language to another using the existing theories. However, as Beaugrande (1994, p. 12) note, these theories lacked a clear basis through which a translator could transfer the text together with the emotions which are always carried by both intratextual and extratextual features.

These models did not give a clear picture of how a text would be made to carry its original meaning from the source text to target text, having in mind the target group’s cultural characteristics. It is very important that such factors as the culture of both the target group and the source are clearly understood by the translator. This would help put the translated text into the right context.

Although translation can take place without an understanding of either of the two cultures, it would be more precise if the translator understands both cultures. Based on these and other requirements of translation as discussed in the above chapters, Nord’s model comes with clear advantages and disadvantages in the communication process.

Advantages of Nord’s Model

As can be seen from the above characteristics, one main advantage that this model has is that it can be used in the translation of all types of texts. Because of its less strict rules concerning understanding the characteristics of the source language, this model can be of use in translation of all types of texts.

Nord’s model is one of the models that translators of sports events can use, especially if the time for the translation process is limited. This scholar notes that with the existence of numerous languages, such universally popular sports like tennis and football can easily be translated from one language to another.

Because of this relaxed rule stated above, the translator can take a wider view of what translation entails. The model would not require the translator to take much time in understanding the semantics of the source language. As such, he or she would be allowed much time to focus on the context and all the nonverbal cues that the original text could have carried.

Because of this, the translated text would have a precise reflection of what the original text had. The translator would have time to internalize the message to express the intertextual and extratextual features of the source text, and keenly translate it to the target text.

Another advantage of this model is that it can be used for various purposes. Because it is simple to understand and use, it has been very popular for training purposes. A teacher would have an easy time to demonstrate how this model is used during the translation process, and the student would find it easy to comprehend the information being put forth.

Besides its usage for training purposes, this model is very popular among professional translators. Because of its simplicity in usage, many professional translators have found it relevant as it allows them to translate larger volumes of text within a considerably lesser time. Moreover, the model does not depend on the translator’s competence.

Disadvantages of Nord’s Model

Although this model has several advantages over other models, it also has some shortcomings. As Landers (2001, p. 185) notes, this model is rather rigid. It demands loyalty to the source text and target text. A translator may not decide on the best way to modify the translated text to bring out the content of the source text better.

This rigidity may at times make the translated text lose the exact meaning of the original text, although the wording and even sentence structure may have a correct reflection of the source text. The meaning that is finally brought out would be completely different from the original text.

Different languages have different stylistic devices. Nord’s model may, therefore, be inappropriate to use because it does not put this into context. By insisting on the loyalty to the source text and target text, it fails to realize that different languages have different stylistic structures that may not be reflected in the text is translated as per the model’s specifications.

Moreover, this study involves translation from French to English. The two languages have a difference in grammar among other structural features. French also has more relaxed rules about sentence structure as compared to English.

Comparison of French and English Stylistics

French and English have a lot of stylistic difference that made the translation above challenges. Although English and French share several common characteristics and both borrow words from each other, they exhibit a striking difference in structure and form. The French language is less rigid as compared to English.

It is simple in structure and rules guiding its sentence formation are less restrictive as English is. Mona (1992, p. 112) says that English is one of the most popular languages in the world, and has a rich vocabulary. She, however, laments that when compared to French, French has more vocabulary. Take for example the word finale in the title of our source text.

In English, this would be translated to final. This points out that the two languages share a lot in common, especially in some specific words. Wor,d finale would be an acceptable English word used as final. Despite these striking similarities, these two languages have several differences on various fronts.

In French, there may be several words that can be used in expressing the same feeling. Mona gives the example of the word love. In English, although adore or like may be used to express love, the other two express different magnitudes and therefore may not be universally used. In French, however, this word can be expressed in many words to mean the same thing.

In sports, the word ‘love’ is very common, and translators would have difficulty if they were to follow Nord’s model of translation because the final translation may lack coherence despite precision in the translation of the words. There is, therefore, need to ensure that the translator appreciates the stylistic differences that exist between the two languages to be successful in the entire process of translation.

This difference would help the translator determine when to apply the loyalty rule of Nord’s model, and when to deviate from it, all in an attempt to have a translated work that maintains the coherence that exists in the original text. These differences can be analyzed as detailed below.

Use of personal pronouns

As stated above, French differs a great deal from English. For example, in the use of the noun, a translator would witness a marked difference because of the difference in semantics in the two languages. In French, nouns are either male or female, irrespective of whether they are animate or inanimate.

In English, he or she are specifically used when one is referring to animate objects to differentiate the two genders that exist. This difference may create a lot of trouble when translating from one text to the other. For example, in French, a ball is referred to as il, which would translate as he in English (Beaugrande 1994, p. 43).

A translator who uses Nord’s model would be grammatically wrong to refer to a ball like he. However, since the French cultural values have a closely connected ball to men (or sports in general), the text in its original form and language makes sense.

According to Astington (1983, p. 14), the word ‘on’ is a French word meaning we, they and one. It would require some deep understanding of the language and the context of the text for a translator to determine the context of the message. In English, the word ‘on’ is a pronoun.

Differences in the use of the verb

Both languages vary in the use of the verb. As Vinay and Darbelnet (1995, p. 138) state, the two languages vary a great deal in their usage of the verb. As this scholar notes, English is far more rigid in its usage of the verb as compared to French.

It is a grammatically correct and a very common phenomenon for a French sentence to be complete without the use of verb. However, in English, a verb is an important aspect of a sentence, without which a sentence would be considered incomplete.

Consider the sentence below: “Two legends in the final, but its Nadal at Roland Garros”. (A direct translation from French)

The sentence is directly translated from French using Nord’s Model. It lacks a verb, and in normal English context, it would lack meaning. The question at hand would be it is Nadal who does what at Roland Garros?’ The action is not explained in the sentence, and therefore it would fail to pass as a correct English sentence.

Cultural references

Culture has a very strong influence on the language. Astington (1983, p. 60) argues that language will heavily be influenced by cultural values and practices. Cultural values would help define the structural form of a given language. English, just as French, is based on the cultural values of countries where they are spoken.

It is important to note that English, as opposed to French, has undergone a lot of transition, since the time of Shakespeare (Bassnett 2002, p. 76). It has evolved differently in different regions of the world due to differing cultural values, although the language has maintained its form across all these cultures.

The cultural value that determines how French uses diction is different from that of English (Vinay & Darbelnet 1995, p. 346). They said that French was comparatively rich in its language, a fact they relate to the rich culture of the French. He argues that French culture is so rich, opening avenues for the country to have a broader vocabulary.

Because of this variety of vocabulary, it may be very challenging to translate one language to another, especially if it is from French to English. Because English has a comparatively limited vocabulary, as the above scholar claims, then it would be easier translating a text from English to French because of the variety of words to choose from.

Technical terms

Technical terms refer to the language that is specific to a given field. Every field has specific terms that it is associated with. Tennis is one of the most popular sports in the world, especially in France, has specific terminologies that are associated with it.

According to Astington (1983, p. 78), It can be very easy to translate some technical terms in popular games like tennis if both languages have a developed understanding of the game. This is witnessed in the above text. There are some words that would not require an expert in either of the languages, as long as one understands one of them and is well versed with this game and its terminologies.

The phrase men’s singles, as can be seen in the translation above, has a very small difference with the French’s equivalent which is simple messieurs. To a person who does not understand the language of this game, the two may not bear any close resembles. However, if one clearly understands Tennis and its terminologies, this resemblance would be easy to detect.

Conversely, it would be a very big challenge if the concerned field is not well developed in another language. In such a case, it might force the translator to borrow the word or phrase directly from the source language. An example in the above text is ‘Porte d’Auteuil,’ which is another name for the tournament and cannot find its proper translation in English. However, the word is also used in English. Translated, it would not create the same impression it does while left unchanged.

Passive and active voice

Astington (1983, p. 49) observes that English and French shares a lot in terms of passive and active voice. Both languages have a close structural form, and therefore have some resembles in the structure of their passive and active voice usage. This can be witnessed in the text above.

Other Parts of Speech

French does not have all the parts of speech that English has. Some of its noun phrases also differ from those of English in structure and form (Vinay & Derbelnet 1995, p. 204). Some of the French noun phrases have the word de added to the stem of another word, a feature that is nonexistent in English.

The English language does not allow free movement of verbs as compared to French. This causes a major problem to French speakers as far as adverb placement in the sentence is concerned. In English, an adverb should not be allowed to interfere with the verb, as well as its object in the sentence.


Language translation has been a common occurrence since the onset of Bible translation. In sports, translation has been very important. Newspapers and other magazines that report on sports have been translated from one language to another because of the need to have this piece of communication consumable to many individuals across the world.

When translating a report of a given sports event, there is a pattern that should be followed to have the coherence of the message maintained throughout the translated text. Several scholars have developed theories to help guide this process of translation. Their guiding question has always been how to develop a model that would help in the translation process, always holding the original meaning of the source text in the translated text.

One such theory is Nord’s model. Nord’s model is a more current model of translation. This model has several advantages. One of the most important aspects of a translation process is the content and structure of the source text.

When translating a text, the two features must be clearly understood and the translated text must bear resembles the original text. It may be quite a challenge for the translator to have a clear understanding of the context under which a given text was written, though this can be deduced from the content.

Nord’s model makes it easier for the translator because it allows them to translate the text without referring to a specific characteristic of the source language. This allows the translator to use one specific language pair as a platform of the translation (House 1996, p. 230).

This is not only a time-saving process, but it is also less demanding for the translator. By allowing the translator to use one language as the basis of translation, it allows the translator to put more focus on the precision of the translation other than having a broad but less detailed analysis of both the source language and the target language.

This model also has several challenges that have made it inappropriate in some instances. As noted in the above discussion, this model may result in a translation whose meaning does not relate closely with that of the original text. This is the main disadvantage of this model.

This research is not the initial one in this field. Neither is it likely to be the last. Other scholars will research in this field later. This research would be very useful to them. This is because it gives direction as to the path that has been taken in this research from those early researchers to the most current one.

It provides the scholar with the findings in this field and then points out at the missing pieces of information, some of which have been responded to in this research while others are not.

List of References

Astington, E 1983, Equivalences, translation difficulties and devices, French-English, English-French, Cambridge University Press, New York.

Bassnett, S 2002, Translation Studies, Routledge, New York.

Beaugrande, R1994, Language, Discourse, and Translation in the West and Middle East, John Benjamin Publishing Company, London.

Buhler, K, Goodwin, D &Eschbach, A 1990, Theory of Language: TheRepresentational Function of Language, John Benjamin Publishing Company, Amsterdam.

Colson, J 1993, “The Exquisite Sophistication of French Scholarly Writing: French Spirit orFrench letter?” Meta, Vol. 38, no. 3, pp 426-439.

Gentzler, E 2001, Contemporary Translation Theories, Multilingual Matters, London

House, J 1996, “Developing Pragmatic Fluency in English as a Foreign Language,” Studies inSecond Language Acquisition,Vol.18, no. 1, pp 225-252.

Landers, C 2001, Literary Translation: A Practical Guide, Multilingual Matters, NewYork.

Mona, B 1992, In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation, Routledge, New York.

Munday, J 2008, Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications, Taylor & Francis, London.

Nord, C 1997, Translating As a Purposeful Activity: Functionalist Approaches Explained, Manchester, St. Jerome.

Nord, C 2005, Text analysis in translation: theory, methodology and didactic application of a model for translation-oriented text analysis, Rodopi, Amsterdam.

Pym, A 1993, “Text Analysis in Translation, Traduction, Terminologie, Rédaction”, Vol. 6, no. 2, pp184-190.

Reiss, K & Vermeer, H 1984, GrundlegungeinerallgemeinenTranslationstheorie, Niemeyer, Germany.

Vinay, J & Darbelnet, J 1995, Comparative stylistics of French and English: A methodology for Translation, Benjamin Publishing, Amsterdam.

Widdowson, H 1979, Aspects of Language Teaching, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

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