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  • Writer's pictureChris

When is a bicycle not a bicycle?

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

When you're a sports translator.

From the outside, it might be easy to think that a sport like football doesn't involve that much in the way of technical language. However, you'd only have to pay attention to a few post-match analyses or interviews to realise that, just like any field, it has its own language.

Like any other translation, it is important to understand the languages of football in your working pairs. And just like any other translation, there are false friends lurking in the background ready to trip you up.

One such example would be the difference between 'bicicleta' in Spanish and 'bicycle' in English. If you look them up in a bilingual dictionary, you'll find they correspond. However, if a Spanish speaking footballer talks about pulling off a 'bicicleta', they almost certainly aren't talking about a 'bicycle' kick in English. In fact, they're probably talking about a step-over. One of these is an acrobatic overhead kick and the other a 'sleight of feet' used to beat a defender when dribbling with the ball.

As you can probably imagine, a mistranslation could lead the audience to think they somehow missed something spectacular or the person speaking wasn't paying attention to the game at all.

If you need a translation, no matter the domain, you will almost certainly need someone with specialised knowledge and awareness, and I think it's important we remember that as translators too. We may not all work with instruction manuals, but we've all spent years honing our skills and developing specialist knowledge, and we absolutely deserve to be valued for that!

Oll an gwella,


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