New Books

Back of the net! The impact of sports talk on linguistics

Book cover: The Discourse of Sport: Analyses from Social LinguisticsFrom the inspirational to the directional to the entertaining – a listen to the linguistic practices that mark out the contemporary sporting landscape can be both fascinating and, at times, a little hard to decipher.

Interpreting those practices is the focus of a new book The Discourse of Sport: Analyses from Social Linguistics, which, co-edited by UniSA linguistics expert Dr David Caldwell, examines language in a range of sporting contexts, from the action-orientated on-field practices of players, referees and coaches to the reflective post-match interview and commentary style of sports journalists and armchair pundits.

The collection brings together innovative research from socially-oriented applied linguists working in sports.

With chapters that delve into a range of topics, including the media fall-out from the racial incident involving Adam Goodes in 2015, and the integration strategies adopted by international football teams in which players and coaches with different languages and cultural backgrounds communicate with each other, The Discourse of Sport, highlights the growing significance and impact of sport as an area for linguistics study.

Dr Caldwell says the language of sport comes in many different forms and that its “repertoire” has expanded considerably over the past few decades, especially with the advent of blogs, tweets, pre-game interviews and on-pitch language tracking.

“Whether positive or negative, sport provides significant landmarks in our individual and collective memories and public discourses,” Dr Caldwell says.

“Given how pervasive, influential and embedded sport is across multiple levels of society and culture, sport should be appreciated as a powerful cultural site of interest and significance for social linguistics.

“The language of sport comes in many forms: from casual conversations at the pub, to professional commentaries and highly formal editorials.”

In terms of how the vocabulary of sport has entered everyday language, Dr Caldwell says there are so many examples.

"What is interesting is that these classic ‘sport/language’ examples are often clustered into two main groups – the “inspiration sports speak”, and the “inarticulate sports speak” (the funny language mistakes made by players, commentators),” he says.

With contributions from an international group of scholars, this is an essential reference for scholars and researchers in applied linguistics, discourse analysis, sport communication, sport management, journalism and media studies.The book is available here.