Speaking in tongues


I had the opportunity this summer to watch World Cup matches in about seven different countries. In five of those seven, I didn’t speak the language and therefore couldn’t understand the commentary. Not that it really matters. Bunch of guys running after a ball, if it goes in the net it’s a goal, right? But it was amusing listening to the games in English, particularly the wry commentary of the British sportscasters who lace their play-by-plays with ironic observations.

Even more entertaining has been watching the games on RDS since getting home. Not only does RDS have the novelty of a female commentator (let’s hear it for gender equality, folks!), but the Quebecois accents punctuating a game that usually gets little more notice in Quebec than snowshoeing – and considerably less than mini-golf – are good for a laugh. Actually, it’s a lot like watching hockey, listening to the Quebecois-inflected phraseology that’s so familiar from our national sport: “il a râté son tire”, “un passe vers le centre”, “hors jeu”, or the rare but enthusiastic “et le but!!!”

If soccer (excuse me, British readers, football) ever catches on in a big way here beyond the World Cup, then you can expect to hear very distinctive commentary and terminology emerge from La Belle Province. After all, we’re unlike the rest of the world in all other things – sport or otherwise – so why should this be any different?

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