23 September 2005

go nmsu aggies

Some note of the broadcasting of NMSU football games in Navajo has been making the rounds, first at Semantic Compositions, and now Eric at Language Log.

Naturally it's tempting for the media to frame this as a "(no) word for X" story. Which is too bad given that there's so much meatier stuff to play with: like, is the 4th person (i.e. obviative) structure useful at all in play-by-play? (my guess is yes.) And, do linebackers get the big-blobby classifier, and do the wide receivers get the long-skinny classifier?

SC also links to this article about the baseball lexicon of French, developed for broadcasts of Expos games. Seems like the intent was to rely on native vocabulary rather than borrowing - e.g. balle papillon "butterfly ball" rather than le knuckleball.

(Knuckleball and papillon both appear in hockey; one as an airborne puck spinning edge-over-edge rather than sailing like a disk, the other as a goaltending style).

Much literature on borrowing sports lexical items tracks the intrusion of English items into other languages, like le goal. But French coverage of football in Quebec, like baseball, has an adapted lexicon (e.g., a field goal is un placement). I even found an article suggesting this could be used as a tool for American English speakers to learn French:

Berwald, Jean-Pierre; Berwald, Peter. 1974. Teaching French via American football. American Foreign Language Teacher 4, 4. 17-19

Part of its abstract from LLBA:
Fortunately for foreign language teachers, American football (and closely related Canadian football) is widely covered by French-Canadian print and broadcast media. Using a French vocabulary of players, positions, rules and verbs, teachers can present a number of concepts at various levels of instruction. Some ideas include numbers, colors, verbs, geography, etc.


At Sat Sep 24, 01:01:00 AM 2005, Blogger Justin said...

Wow -- I knew that goaltenders in the style popularized by Patrick Roy were referred to as "butterfly" goalies, but I had no idea it was referred to synonymously in French.



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