EDITORS: Eva Lavric, Gerhard Pisek, Andrew Skinner & Wolfgang Stadler TITLE: The Linguistics of Football SERIES: Language in Performance 38 PUBLISHER: Narr Francke Attempto Verlag YEAR: 2008
Mark Irwin, Faculty of Literature & Social Sciences, Yamagata University
Probably the first attempt at a linguistic analysis of football (soccer), this volume is a collection of some 34 papers, along with an introduction and a 'Football and Language Bibliography' compiled by the Innsbruck Football Research Group. Individual papers are relatively brief, averaging around 10 pages each, including references. All are written in English. Although the content is highly eclectic, the editors inject a degree of order by dividing the volume into six sections (number of papers in parentheses): football terminology (9), football language (8), football discourses (6), football and media (6), media and discourse: emotions (3), football and multilingualism (2).
The nine papers in the 'football terminology' section straddle a number of linguistic subfields. Schmidt presents the Kicktionary, a trilingual corpus; Szczesniak & Callies examine 'manner of obtainment' constructions in sports reporting; Uchechukwu looks at Igbo verb roots within the football domain; the papers by Dosev and Bernard introduce footballing lexis in Bulgarian and in French, respectively; and three papers, those by Pintarić, Sȩpek and El Sayad, look at loanwords in the language of football: English and German in Croatian, English in Polish, and English in Egyptian Arabic, respectively. The final paper by Gamal complements El Sayad's, treating the recent coining of Egyptian Arabic football terms.
The papers presented in the 'football language' section lean heavily towards the use of idioms and metaphor. The papers by Nordin, Vierkant and Anchimbe examine metaphor in football commentary: in Swedish and German, in German, and in Cameroon and on the West Bank (Palestine), respectively. Two papers, by Matulina & Ćoralić and by Levin, look at idioms and high frequency phrases, in Croatian and German, and in English, respectively. Both Calderón and Sonnenhauser treat the onomastics of football, the former cross-linguistically, the latter in German. The remaining paper in this section, by Shamsuddin & Kamaruddin, looks at the language of football in Malaysian newspaper reports.
As its title suggests, the papers in 'football discourses' are heavily focused on discourse analysis. Richard focuses on representations of nationhood and national stereotyping in an analysis of the commentary of the 1976 European Cup final between Bayern München and Saint-Étienne; Agnelli on the construction of identities in Italian print media. Hallett & Kaplan-Weinger offer a discursive analysis of football halls of fame. Two papers analyse football chants in the context of regional identity and stereotyping: Schiering examines those of the German club Schalke's fans, and Luhrs those found across a range of English clubs. The section closes with Duda's examination of words for sports enthusiasts in Polish.
Three of the papers in the fourth section, 'football and the media', deal with grammar/syntax. Müller looks at the interaction between grammar and football in German and English radio commentaries; Walker, the use of the present perfect in English football commentary; and Wiredu & Anderson, adjectives in Ghanaian English football reports. Makarova looks at speech errors in Russian sports commentary. Finally, while Chovanec analyses online minute-by-minute sports commentaries, focusing on ideational and interpersonal functions, Gerhardt examines the interplay between live TV football commentary and the accompanying pictures.
In the fifth section, 'media and discourse: emotions', Theodoropoulou looks at 'triumphalese' in the Greek commentary to the Greece v. Portugal Euro 2004 final, Jung examines the 'spectacularization' of football in Spanish and Argentine commentaries, while Lavric et al. analyse the expression of emotions across six different languages during the Zidane sending off in the 2006 World Cup final.
'Football and multilingualism', the final section, contains just two papers. Giera et al. introduce their research project on multilingual communication within football teams; and Thaler outlines a framework in which football can be integrated into TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).
Although many are short -- some too short -- and quality is varied, the editors are to be praised in bringing together such a wealth of, on the whole, novel, interesting and well-written papers. This was certainly no mean task, given the multilingual background of the contributors. Not only does the collection examine the linguistics of football from, as hinted at above, sociolinguistic, semantic, syntactic, corpus linguistic, discourse analytic, lexical, onomastic, pedagogical and psycholinguistic perspectives, it also examines the topic in a plethora of different languages: English, German, French, Arabic, Polish, Igbo, Croatian, Bulgarian, Swedish, Italian, Russian, Spanish and Greek. Given its de facto status as the most powerful language in football, it is perhaps surprising that so little Spanish material is included, and the obvious Eurocentric bent is to be lamented (Arabic and Igbo are the only non-Indo-European languages covered).
The penultimate paper in the collection, by Giera et al. (a.k.a. the Innsbruck Football Research Group), offers, in my view, the clearest vision of what a future volume might have in store: the increasing multilingual make-up of top European club teams (and a few of the richer clubs outside Europe) illustrates well the necessity for continuing research on (mis)communication: team-internally, between players and managers/coaches, and between players and match officials.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Mark Irwin is an associate professor at Yamagata University, Japan. His
research interests include football, as well as the historical linguistics,
sociolinguistics, historical sociolinguistics and phonology of Japanese.