8 de septiembre de 2003

Language, sport and University in Spain

Por Jesús Castañón Rodríguez

Language, sport and University in Spain

Jesús Castañón Rodríguez (*)

(*) Text based on the intervention in the round-table conference «El periodismo deportivo en el ámbito universitario, nuevos lenguajes de comunicación en el deporte» («Sports journalism in the university field, new languages of communication in sport») which was held on the 17th of July, 2003. It was part of the course La influencia mediática en el deporte (The media influence in sport), organized by the International University of the Sea in San Javier (Murcia, Spain).

In the 19th and 20th centuries, sport has been an element to define the contemporary history. It has got the rise of the villages’ culture and civilization levels and also it has become leisure industry and a social necessity.

Bit by bit, it has come out from its pitches and places to the avenues and the streets in a passionate way. And it has also been able to join fields based on information and specialized and scientific research with reflection.

The massive consumption of its ways of speaking and writing has expanded the expressive possibilities of language and has created a field of special observation on the part of the linguistic institutions receiving the most innovative trends of the current state of language and being able to create neologisms with a great capacity of influence in society.

Sport’s language in University

Sport and University have never been opposing concepts in Spain. In this way, it’s important to mention that in the International Olympic Committee’s Conference in 1894 which gave way to the restoration of the Olympic Games, it boasted the representation of two educative institutions from Latin-America: the National College in Uruguay , with the doctor José Benjamín Zubiaur , and the University of Oviedo, with Adolfo González Posada, Aniceto Sela and Adolfo Álvarez Buylla as delegates. And also, like in the twenties the rector of the University of Salamanca, Miguel de Unamuno, did contributions in the weekly magazine from Barcelona Sports in 1923 to talk about football as a play of freedom against the discipline of the pedagogical games at that time.

The first steps

The presence of the language based on sport in University has been carried out by means of four phases. In a first moment, between 1959 and 1975, three approaches were put into practice from Madrid, the Canaries and Catalonia. Firstly, a philological dimension and also based on classical culture where Citius magazine, together with Altius and Fortius as well as the Fernández Galiano and Rodríguez Adrados’s pioneering labour. Secondly, an approach to sport with linguistic and sociological approaches from the University Professorships with subject based on Sport and Culture between 1968 and 1974. and in 1972 journalism, with Joaquim Maria Puyal gives rise to the realization of minor thesis on football terminology.

The doctoral theses

In a second phase, from 1976 to 1991, certain activities continue, like the cultural ones, which reflect on sport and they are now led by Faculties of Media Studies in Madrid, emphasizing the important part of Antonio Alcoba. And also, University sets in motion two paths: its centres publish studies and reflections based on sport, both in its linguistic version and literary one and they generate research with doctoral theses which would be read in centres from Asturias, the Canaries, The old Castile and Madrid about the term sport and monographs of different aspects of cycling and football.

Linguists, journalists and sportsmen\women

A third stage, from 1992 to the end of the 20th century, is the result of the new Law of Sport and success of the Olympic Games in summer held in Barcelona. Cultural activities remain, even though now they are carried out by Institutes of Sport with the pioneering I Match about Spanish language in sport, organized by the Andalusian Institute of Sport in 1997. And it has also continuity the reading of doctoral theses with contributions of universities of Alicante, León, Madrid and Navarra.

But what gets a special prominence is the creation of a new educational dimension of Spanish language of sport: specific subjects, courses in summer and in winter time and based on doctorate. The creation of university subjects has comprised its linguistic, literary version and based on communication as well, and it started the path in the universities of Castile between 1995 and 2000, thanks to «Literatura y deporte» («Literature and sport») and «Idioma y deporte» («Language and sport»), imparted in the University of Valladolid, as well as «Comunicación deportiva» («Communication based on sport») in the Pontifical University of Salamanca.

The presence in summer time courses has alluded to literature and communication, with the pioneering labour of Madrid and Asturias since 1997.

Finally, the education of the third stage has taken into account its triple linguistic, literary and communicative dimension with the first step given by the courses «El idioma español del deporte en los medios de comunicación» («The Spanish language of sport in the mass media») and «Literatura de tema deportivo» («Literature on sport») and «La crónica deportiva: el estilo y la estructura» («The sports page: the style and the structure») which have been given in centres of Old Castile and Madrid since 1998 and 1999.

But that social influence of sport has also given rise to other two phenomena. Firstly, the interrelation between linguistics and journalism in the Autonomous University of Madrid thanks to the construction of textual corpuses for the analysis of the journalistic language and also to the collaboration with the University of Oviedo, a collaboration based on the publication about the correctly spoken language on television. And secondly, the incorporation of sport professionals who created works about equivalences of terminology, studies about aspects of physical education terminology and its didactics or dictionaries on the sciences of the physical activity and sport in universities of Old Castile and Catalonia as well as in the Institutes of sport in Andalusia and in the Basque Country.

The common tendency

A fourth stage starts in the 21st century with the conversion of sport into a matter of common interest for the different experts. And now new steps join the continuity of the given thing in the previous stage, aspects given by the universities of Catalonia, the region of Valencia Murcia and Basque Country.

Firstly, an important change takes place in the linguistic institutions. The Association of Spanish Academies evolves from the purism for the hispanicism of vocabulary and the defence of the usage of criteria for the idiomatic correction to create an Observatory of Neologism in order to analyze neologisms with an origin based on sport which appear in common speech and with a great social success. And the Spanish Academy in the last edition of the Spanish Language Dictionary has focused its attention on eighty-one different disciplines based on sport, it has also given more than three hundred terms of a general nature with the mark «en deportes» («in sports») and «y en otros deportes» («and in other sports»). The Corporation has registered terms related to the Olympic Games in summer and winter time (specially athletics, basketball, boxing, cycling, fencing, football and riding; alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and ice hockey) and to non-Olympic games, having special predilection for martial arts and sports of a great social dissemination. Gradually, it has been incorporating the names of all Olympic sports in summer and winter time with their categories and machines and also the definition of all non-Olympic games grouped around federations or with a great popular extent.

The field of communication and journalism which already act as a leisure industry without complexes ,includes in its training specific modules about the proper use of language both in specialized course and postgraduate master. A task the Spanish Olympic Committee starts and several universities of Madrid will develop together with the Agencia Efe, Marca newspaper or the thematic channel Eurosport. Moreover, in Andalusia and Madrid several doctoral theses have been carried out together with works to emphasize the social influence of the language based on sport and its application to reports of other informative fields.

Finally, the sportsmen/women have taken two directions. In Madrid, they have carried out Postgraduate Master from the sports foundations, like for example the Real Madrid team, and more recently a new common tendency has been achieved due to the formation of multidisciplinary working party with sportsmen and sportswomen, journalists and linguists from the Old Castile, La Rioja and Madrid to analyze the influence of the language based on sport in the common language.

A race where several generations have taken part

To conclude, the relationship among language, sport and university is the history of a common tendency. Of a relay race where we have to read backwards and to look forward to take the witness of the anonymous work of thousands of generations and we have to stay on the racetrack to make the expressive possibilities of language can go further, higher and stronger.