Unless, by some miracle, you hadn’t noticed, the World Cup is being contested in Brazil just now. That’s great for football fans, but what does it mean for those of us who make a living from language interpretation and translation?
Well, with the caveat that this blog is not to be taken too seriously, one of the key areas where translators perhaps should be employed in greater numbers is the football TV studio, especially those with former footballers who are now acting as pundits for the BBC and ITV (other stations are available).
What’s particularly embarrassing about some of these individuals is that they are invariably sitting alongside someone from another country whose command of the English language is, in relative and sometimes absolute terms, much better than the native Englishman’s.
Now to be fair, while accurate use of grammar and syntax is important in translation, especially technical translation, it’s not a prerequisite for anyone hoping to be a professional footballer. Moreover, most professional footballers, as anyone who has spent time in their company knows, tend to struggle to put together a sentence without at least one swear word. Perhaps this is one of the reasons they don’t sound bright on the radio or TV: they are concentrating so hard on not using an expletive that they forget what they are trying to say?
That said, for an ex-footballer hoping to make it into punditry, a refresher course on the basics of English grammar might be a good idea. After all, who was it who said, “can you conjugate the verb ‘done good?”. It goes, in case you didn’t know, “I done good, you done good, the boy Lineker done good…..”