The FIFA World Cup is one of the most popular sporting events. In fact, the organization has its own language services department for professional translating and video translation because it has so many languages to accommodate. Officially, FIFA has four major languages: English, Spanish, French and German. Overall, FIFA’s language department translates around three million words per year. Nevertheless, there are still nuances within each language that result in some memorable translation gaffes. Since translation is a delicate balance between the words and their meanings, what happens when you don’t have a word for the meaning. Read on to find out and to see how the international translator is a key player for the FIFA World Cup?
The language of sports is as specific and old as medical or legal terminology, and it becomes evident when we come across issues such as a lack of feminine terms for certain sports positions. This year, during the Women’s World Cup, commentators and reporters were stumped with how to appropriately adapt “defender” and “manager” for women in French. To refer to a women’s soccer defender, the French commentators and switched between défenseure or another feminine form défenseuse. In most cases, media professionals opted for the latter. They said it provided a clearer phonetic distinction, considering défenseure is pronounced exactly like its masculine counterpart défenseur. Obviously, this issue in soccer vocabulary stems from a larger debate concerning gender equality– from the equal pay to patronizing slogans.
In addition to the ‘defender’ issue, the French national team struggled when it came to referring to their manager, Corinne Diacre two years ago. For communications purposes, the team opted for “sélectionneure.” Even the 384-year-old Académie Française remained unsure of how to proceed, saying it would wait for the usage to settle the uncertainty.
An international translator is part of the long-run
Clearly, the presence of an international translator is fundamental to the World Cup’s success. A professional translator is just as key as conference interpreting services in ensuring that this event reaches the large global following. FIFA relies on more than 150,000 volunteers who provide global translation services during the World Cup. As much as technological advancements can help us navigate the basics of a language, pure Machine Translation is not close to replacing an international translator. For instance, during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, many people who speak rare languages, such as Welsh, were unable to rely on apps to move around a city lacking multilingual tourist infrastructure. In general, language is a lead player in any major sporting event. From the commentators to the audience, the influx of foreigners into any country increases the use for translation apps, interpretation needs and language service providers like subtitles and ASL. Overall, major events like the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics host more than international teams. They provide the perfect opportunity for linguistic issues, as they expose travelers and players alike to cross-cultural communication and its complications.
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