Analysing the Language of Sport and related Sciences - Alessandra Fazio - ebook

This study focuses on a description of an in-depth analysis of the language of sport and related sciences from an LSP perspective (the study of Language for Specific Purposes). It brings together what is known about LSP from the point of view of both linguistic analysis and applied linguistics The study guides the reader through rich and comprehensive research into LSP applied to the specific domain of sport and related sciences (e.g. physiology of exercise, psychology etc.).Questo studio offre la descrizione di un’analisi approfondita del linguaggio dello sport e delle scienze applicate dal punto di vista del linguaggio speciale (LSP del settore dello sport). Consiste in un panoramica delle teorie e metodologie finora applicate a questo campo sia da un punto di vista teorico che da un’applicazione diquesto alla didattica.Alessandra Fazio specialised in Terminology at the University of Geneva. She is a researcher in English Studies at the Università degli Studi di Roma Foro Italico. Her research interests lie in terminology and in the creation of terminological tools, applied linguistics and cognitive linguistics. She is mainly involved in the analysis of the language of sport and sports sciences, arbitration discourse related to sports matters and legal English. She has participated in several national and international projects. She has collaborated with the Institute for Studies on Scientific Research and Documentation, and has taken part in the Scientific Committee of the Italian Association of Terminology and in the Advisory Committee of the European Association for Terminology.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi

Liczba stron: 155

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:


Alessandra Fazio


Edizioni Nuova Cultura

Copyright © 2012 Edizioni Nuova Cultura - Roma

ISBN: 9788861349957

DOI: 10.4458/9148

Copertina: Francesca Minnocci

Composizione grafica e revisione: a cura dell’Autore

È vietata la riproduzione non autorizzata, anche parziale, realizzata con qualsiasi mezzo, compresa la fotocopia, anche ad uso interno o didattico.

Table of contents


1. Introduction to the Language of Sport and related Sciences

1. What this book is about

2. Historical survey of theoretical positions

2.1. Approaches to terminology: a theoretical framework and current methodological trends

2.2. Terminological approach and concepts: pros & cons

2.3. Limitations and future trends

2.4. Users and their needs

3. A definition of the Language of Sport

4. Text, discourse and corpora: some reflections

2. Mapping basic elements

1. LSP: Language for Specific Purpose and Sport Sciences (concepts, relationship among terms, general terms etc.)

1.1. Terms and concepts

1.2. Univocity vs polysemy (normalisation, standardisation and harmonisation)

1.3. Relationships between terms and concepts

2. Logical framework

3. Corpus: (definition, selection, research)

4. Language of additional related sciences

4.1. Agreement on natural language terms used in an LSP

3. Methodology and technological applications

1. Materials & Methods: tools and software for a linguistic analysis

1.1. Methodology, tools and guidelines for database construction

2. Two case studies

2.1. Case study 1: A prototypical fencing glossary compiled using Access and Visio

2.2. Case study 2: juridical language of sport

3. Qualitative vs quantitative Analysis

4. Exploratory techniques

4. Present objectives and future development

1. What are the advantages?

2. Developing an on-line database

3. Possible teaching applications




This study provides an accurate description of the language of sport and related sciences from an LSP(Language for Specific Purposes) perspective. Therefore, the book gives a complete overview of what is known about LSP analysis both from a linguistic point of view and from the viewpoint of applied linguistics.

The study guides the reader through a multifaceted research in LSP as applied to the specific domain of sport and related sciences (such as Physiology of exercise, Psychology of Sport, Sports Medicine, Sports Law, Nutrition, etc.). Starting from a definition of the specific domain and an updated review of the literature in the field, the study focuses on the basic elements and the newest technological useful tools for linguistic analysis. A definition of a clear frame and a possible approach to organize a conceptual model useful to define the specific domain is provided. A complete linguistic analysis of the domain is realized through practical cases and real examples.

The first chapter illustrates the theoretical background and a historical survey of the language of sports and human movement in order to provide the basis for a detailed analysis and definition of the field. The second Chapter gives an overview of the basic elements of the organization of an LSP specifically related to a terminological /ontological approach, thus providing basic principles for an analysis of this specific domain. In the third chapter a possible methodology and related software used to build up a prototypical (English-Italian) glossary of sports terminology is illustrated. Two case studies are provided as examples of the suggested methodology.

Furthermore, in the last chapter, due to the author’s experience in teaching English as a second language in an LSP environment, the design of an ESP course is also described following the terminological methodology and using the specific tools for analysis.

1.Introduction to the Language of Sport and related Sciences

1. What this book is about

It is our aim to define the language of sport and the science of human movement from an LSP (Language for Specific Purposes) perspective. By this we mean learning English to use knowledge or a set of skills in this vast and varied field of professional performance or according to Wenger, an occupational and/or educational “community of practice” (Wenger, 1998) including possible professional roles in the future.

The theoretical background on which our definition is based and our research interests lie (terminology and logical/ontological applications) is also provided. As this handbook is mainly intended for students, it focuses on the teaching of the specific language that defines sport and applied sciences, identifying key factors such as communicative competence, communicative language teaching, the technique of textual analysis, discourse analysis and corpus linguistics exploring how not only meaning, but also conceptual reference is established, negotiated and maintained while drawing attention to critical issues.

From this perspective, our aim extends beyond educational purposes to include a wider audience of expert readers in response to the need to improve effective oral and written international communication.

Materials, methodology and technological applications will be examined referring to textual typology, providing readers with a method of analysis and a robust theoretical model. New technological tools and techniques for corpus analysis will be proposed and illustrated to enhance knowledge acquisition and effective communication. In this sense this handbook addresses the wider field of applied linguistic studies.

It is necessary to define briefly what applied linguistics is and why it is different from linguistics. In Hunston’s words (2002, p.2), “The field of applied linguistics itself has undergone something of a revolution over the last few decades. Once, it was almost synonymous of language teaching, but now it covers any application of language to the solution of real-life problems. As has often been said (e.g. Widdowson 1979, 2000), the difference between linguistics and applied linguistics is not simply that one deals with theory and the other with applications of those theories. Rather, applied linguistics has tended to develop language theories of its own, ones that are more relevant to the questions applied linguistics seeks to answer than those developed by theoretical linguistics.”

Accuracy is of vital importance in the exchange of information and ideas in our rapidly evolving “global village” where the boundaries of cultural, scientific and technological fields are no longer well defined, often creating ambiguity and causing misunderstanding. There is an urgent need for accurate communication in a world where interaction between specific fields or contexts is exponentially increasing. The recent collection of numerous specialized terminological databases is an attempt “to make communication easier and prevent misunderstandings between experts, non-experts and the lay public” as stated by Musacchio (1999 p. 369).

Two main directions of analysis will be highlighted through a contrastive study of the language of sport in both Italian and English. The first investigates the extension between the general and specific use of single language concepts. The second concerns the inter-disciplinary nature of sports language as “sports discourse” referring to many applied sciences such as exercise physiology, biology, human movement science, biomechanics, sports medicine etc..In addition, extra-linguistic situations will be considered; for instance, when analysing sports language we refer to linguistic cues inspired by movement-related situations – exercise, practice sessions or training.

Considering the global complexity of this field of interest, there is an urgent need for an all-inclusive handbook to clarify technical-scientific communication addressed to both students and professionals in the field of sport and applied sciences. Technical-scientific professional development and its effects on related communication is the “scenario” in which sports operators find themselves when researching and processing information.

While it is a challenge to confront students and readers with an all-inclusive robust model which provides an exhaustive collection of the different concepts representing the whole intercultural and interdisciplinary language domain, it must be emphasised, however, that the sociological aspects accounting for most of the current inter-cultural components in this field are in a perpetual state of flux.

With regard to the inter-disciplinary/intercultural language domain, Mc Carthy (1996) and Wenger’s (1998) viewpoints are important to our understanding of how language works. In fact, Mc Carthy (1996) defines culture and cultural practices from a socio-cultural perspective, while Wenger (1998) assumes that a community of practice involves much more than shared technical knowledge or skills in a specific domain. Members are interacting throughout the period of time spent together which gives them a sense of joint enterprise or identity. Such a community of practice finds the need to produce a suitable and shared repertoire of knowledge and ideas exemplified in resources such as tools, vocabulary and documents. It is hoped that this handbook will provide useful guidelines and a link with “the specific community of practice” in the multifaceted field of sport and sports related sciences.

The reference to applied sciences pre-empts a deeper insight into language - a multilayered approach in which additional sociological and historical components are used in different theoretical settings, accounting for a variety of interconnections, perspectives, skills, knowledge and epistemology.

In addition, fairly recent procedural computational concepts of corpus linguistics will be discussed – for example, “keyness” (=significant frequency) and/or “aboutness” (= indicator of specificity), “key-key-words” (= a word which is a “key" in more than one of a number of related texts). Concepts influencing discourse construction such as purpose, associates, concordances, clusters, collocation etc. and techniques of automatic extraction of key words will be introduced and explained.

In this chapter, a theoretical background is illustrated together with a historical survey of the language of sports and human movement to provide a cultural basis for a thorough analysis and a comprehensive definition of the field.

2. Historical survey of theoretical premises

The theoretical background of linguistics will be here outlined to draw a distinction between previous theories and new directions. The language of sport is analysed through a terminological approach and a logical-ontological methodology.

However, before beginning an analysis into the application of a terminological approach to textual/discourse analysis and mapping basic elements, it is necessary to briefly illustrate the linguistic approach and hypothesised future trends, but not before answering two questions that need to be asked: what is terminology and, what is its role within the scientific discipline of linguistics ?

Firstly, terminology studies terms; it processes and codifies them into a conceptual system. In Temmerman’s (2000, p.2) words, terminology “[…] has a subject matter, namely the vocabulary of specialized (spoken and written) discourse. It has the objective, namely the identification, collection and description of terms which can then be applied to the purpose of qualitatively enhancing communication”.

Therefore, the specific subject matter of terminology - vocabulary - is no more than a list of terms adapted to specific purposes. LSP1 dictionaries exist for every branch of scientific discipline although sometimes lists restricted to narrower fields of interest may be collected and organized for tailor-made interests. Irrespective of the bulk of terms collected, the procedure maintains the same logical prerequisites and methodological protocol; the aim is to create an outline of logical reasoning and method, facilitating knowledge acquisition and controlled language use.

Following this procedure the relation between epistemology2 and specialized discourse3 appears strict in the sense that a specialist’s use of the language is not occasional but rather reflects an intense meta-linguistic activity implying a highly accurate choice of terms. This is the first implicit condition for achieving communication objectives and synthetic exposition/argumentation mediating between the result obtained and the resources used.

A terminological study is concerned with the analysis of codified terms and the concepts behind them. It also examines the validation and acceptance of new terms of everyday communication within a particular environment or a shared community. According to Sager (1997), terminological practice requires, above all, a careful analysis both of the specific field of action and the specific use made of its language followed by a needs analysis of the final user. Once the user’s needs are established, a specialised collection of terms, or glossary or even a database may be created following some simple steps: looking for corpus selection, establishing a hierarchical structure, choosing suitable software, identifying items and related objectives, selecting item design, organisation and definition criteria.

2.1. Approaches to terminology: a theoretical framework and current methodological trends

There are not only various trends or methods on how to approach and define terminology, but there are also different functions to be highlighted.

Sager points out that: “there is a major division between those who believe context to be relevant for the identification of usage and those who believe terms to be context independent" (1990, p.10).

Pearson (1998) identifies two main trends in terminology studies that she describes as ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’. Temmerman (2000) also distinguishes between traditional terminology and modern trends in recent criticism on the traditional approach mainly based on the issue of “standardisation”4.

Principles of traditional terminology and modern trends are synthetically represented in the following table taken from Temmerman (2000). In fact, she points out five basic principles and sets them in contrast to modern trends and needs when effectively applying a terminological analysis to a specific language.



1st Principle: Terminology starts with the concept without considering the language.

Language plays a role in the conception and communication of categories.

2nd Principle: a concept is clear-cut and can be assigned a place in a logically or ontologically structured concept system.

Many categories are blurred and cannot be definitively classified by logical and ontological means.

3rd Principle: a concept is ideally defined in an intentional definition.

An intentional definition is often neither possible nor desirable.

4th Principle: a concept is referred to by one term and one term only designates one concept (one-to-one reference).

Polysemy, synonymy and figurative language occur and are functional in specific language.

5th Principle: the assignment concept/term is permanent.

Categories evolve, terms change in meaning, understanding develops.

Table 2. Comparison between traditional Terminology and new trends from a critical viewpoint5

The two trends in terminology may be summarized as follows: according to traditionalists, terms are to be taken in isolation from the text so that context becomes unimportant. Conversely, modern terminologists pay more attention to the context in which the terms appear and ascertain that a contextual fragment is given. However, all terminologists whether traditional or modern need to find ways to structure knowledge by comparing and contrasting related concepts6.

Although the classification and the organization of a corpus may take on different shapes such as thesauri, classifications, faceted-classifications, glossaries etc., a logically organised structure is absolutely essential since data alone is of little use if it constitutes a static system.

Information is useful when links between terminological data and usage in communication can be established. Therefore, a more dynamic approach to terminology can favour the production of a logical, rigorous model which can be applied and further expanded to highly specialised fields of action.

Over the last few years, scholars have made several attempts to create models that would allow for static lists of terms (lists, glossaries, thesauri etc.) to become more and more dynamic. There is at the moment a lively debate in progress regarding the most recent methodological trend concerning the ontological approach7, consisting of an all-inclusive and dynamic attempt to represent a specific knowledge field. However, the reasons for applying traditional or modern socio-cognitive (Temmerman) terminology mostly depend on the nature of the language and on the type of terminological product.

Sager underlines three main functions implicit in the meaning of terminology8:

1) the representative function which aims at representing univocal9 specific concepts occurring in artificial and controlled vocabulary which maintains a neutral/impersonal character;

2) the communicative function that aims at concept transferring either direct (expert-to-expert communication) or indirect communication (translation, language consulting, technical communication, colloquial communication etc.) reflecting the typical functional modification on natural language due to socio-cultural contexts;

3) the cognitive function which aims at restoring the linguistic forms back to their original conceptual content (i.e. the term referent10 to the real world)

2.2. Terminological approach and concepts:pros&cons

In this section examples of applications of different traditional terminological models used over the years are given, showing benefits and limitations and how the ontological approach developed.

The terminological approach applied to the analysis of a specific language is based on some basic traditional principles illustrated in the following table. These principles constitute the fundamental components of the “architecture” for an analysis of a specific language and for any further computer-based applications.



Concept – term


Defining terms/concepts according to their “properties” or characteristics


Logical structure


Establishing a rigorous model

5.TIME FACTOR (in the study of linguistic phenomena)

Synchronic approach

Table 2. Basic components in terminology (adapted from Temmermann)

In the traditional terminological analysis of a specific language, as summarised above in Table 1, terms (see Table 1, n.1) or terminological units are focused on which, according to Cabré (2000), should first of all be considered lexical units representing or facilitating the representation of specialised technical and scientific fields of knowledge. Secondly, it is essential to provide term definitions which clarify and exemplify concepts by means of their intrinsic characteristics. The definition provides an accurate and brief description of conceptual attributes and characteristics. Finally it is important to “fix” a solid logical structure or model constituting the architecture of the basic structural reference to which terms are to be referred to. This is a delicate phase in which a specific knowledge domain needs to be graphically represented to build up a logical structure (in this case the technical-scientific language of sport and related sciences).

Such a structure should provide a coherent and rigorous model not only because it is the reference framework of the specific domain analysed, but also because it facilitates the disambiguation of terms and related concepts. In fact it is crucial at this stage, to represent concepts coherently, the difficulty being due to the polysemic value of concepts or conceptual variation.

Concepts might show multi-dimensional, multifaceted or multi-layered traits or numerous variations; even new viewpoints related to the same concept can arise. Moreover, it is from a synchronic perspective that this kind of analysis is intended; the linguistic phenomenon is considered a term (=conceptual unit) only from one point in time, usually the present, and the analysis is updated as often as possible. The specific language of sport and its rapid evolution requires new releases continuously.

With regard to the methodological application of this kind of linguistic analysis, the application of traditional methodology, and, in particular, first attempts at conceptualisation are based on the “Knowledge Organisation Structure (KOS)11 model” which in turn is adapted from the “Referent-Oriented Concept Theory” (Dahlberg 2000: 175) setting out the following categories for corpus organization:

1) theory and principles related to the object;

2) object and its description;

3) processes related to the object;

4) principles dealing with specificities associated with an object and defining particular aspects related to the object;

5) physical persons related to the object;

6) object setting;

7) influence exerted externally, i.e. concepts related to other fields of study, but relevant to the domain being analysed;

8) applications of activities in other environments;

9) spreading of knowledge concerning the object and its related elements: teaching, information, places and cultural tools.