Can tactics and instructions in sport get ‘lost in translation’?
Now that the competition is over after three and a half tense and pulsating weeks, our thoughts have turned to some of the tournament’s widely discussed quotes.
A couple of quotes in particular that stood out like a sore thumb for us, were from Wayne Rooney and former England manager and Italian international Fabio Capello.
Capello – who has previously said that the highlight of his playing career was scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win for Italy over England at the old Wembley Stadium in November, 1973 – launched a pretty scathing attack on England star Wayne Rooney.
His comments came following the striker’s suggestions that under former international managers, such as Capello, tactics and instructions were often misunderstood.
In a snipe directed at the Italian, who managed England between 2008-2012, Rooney stated that the English players were happy under fellow Englishman Roy Hodgson as nothing was “lost in translation”. Capello retorted in the Italian press saying: “I think Rooney only understands Scottish. That’s because he only plays well in Manchester, where [Manchester United manager] Sir Alex Ferguson speaks Scottish.”
But can a difference in native language and a person’s grasp of another language seriously impact upon the way in which messages, instructions and indeed tactics in sport can come across and are conveyed?
Understanding is the crucial element, and it can be argued that despite being able to speak English well, Capello’s proficiency is by no means fluent. However, some would argue that a strong accent and imperfect English are simple excuses and easy ways in which to deflect the blame for poor performances, making Capello somewhat of a scapegoat.
Certainly, communication between fluent, native speakers of a given language will perhaps always be easier to understand from both people’s viewpoints.
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We are all too aware that the slightest misunderstanding of a cultural or linguistic nature has the potential to cost businesses, organisations and individuals much more than just money. Credibility and reputations are also on the line.
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