Sports interpreting

Sports interpreting

Many sports teams feature players from various countries, and you cannot expect them all to be able to speak the same language. When participating in international tournaments such as the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens, there is an even greater chance that players will not be able to communicate in the host country’s national language. That is where sports interpreting comes into play.

Whether giving a post-game interview or speaking with local reporters about upcoming games, it is important that athletes are properly understood. The best way to ensure this is by hiring a sports interpreter who will not only prevent miscommunication but also help players avoid mistakes when speaking to the media.

sports interpreting

2M sports interpreter at FC Toulon's end of the day press conference (Brisbane Global Rugby Tens 2017)

Sports interpreters are professionals

One may assume you can simply ask bilingual athletes to interpret for others on the team. Whilst they might speak the language just fine, they don’t have the extensive experience of a professional interpreter. This means they may find it difficult to keep up with the pace of the speaker and, as a result, might be struggling with sentences and miss parts of what has been said.

Consider the consequences of this occurring during a live post-game interview at a sporting event: your team might give the impression of being inarticulate. Hiring a professional interpreter ensures your team will come across at its best during such interviews and other live newscasts.

Avoid inaccurate summaries

People who speak more than one language are not necessarily all able to quickly convert one language to another. When it comes to interpreting, this skill is a necessity — it’s what separates a language professional from a teammate or coach who happens to be multilingual.

A non-professional “interpreter” might not only stumble over words, but could also prefer to summarise points, especially when they are confused or cannot interpret fast enough. While the general message may be delivered to the audience, much of the meaning can get lost when information is summarised, or changed if they add their own personal opinion. There is a risk of the audience missing a part of what has been said, or even become offended if the phrasing is incorrect.

As any professional interpreter knows, the aim is to be nearly invisible where the audience is concerned, and sports interpreting is no exception — fans want to know what their favourite players have to say rather than hear the personal views of the interpreter.

Sports interpreting: quality communication by professionals

Make sure the language professional you hire is an interpreter specialised in sports interpreting. This is important because every sport has its own vocabulary and slang. Even well-known sports terms like goal, basket and bat may have idiomatic equivalents in other languages, and fans will quickly notice when their culture’s preferred terms are not being used.

For example in rugby some technical terms vary from one hemisphere to the other: the number 10 is called fly-half in the northern hemisphere and first-five-eight in the southern hemisphere.

A professional sports interpreter knows to keep these terms in the right context so that they are communicated correctly. Often, a sports interpreter will have particular knowledge of a sport including its terminology, and when there are new words they don’t know, they will check with the players. Also, a sports interpreter will prepare with the right terminology beforehand.

See our other interpreting services.

Read our original blog post about Sports interpreting and the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens.

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