The use of metaphor in the language of football: a contrastive analysis of Spanish and Italian by José Francisco Medina Montero, University of Trieste

May 24, 2016 10:07 am

Although football has a huge popularity all over the world and it plays a major role in society and culture, it has not sufficiently been investigated from a linguistic point of view.

José Francisco Medina Montero, PhD in Spanish philology and Associate Professor at the Department of Interpreting and Translation Studies, University of Trieste, has published three articles concerning the use of metaphors in the language of football, by involving participants, sport as an activity and place and the items in a football kit.

As stated by Medina Montero, analysing football language is quite a difficult challenge, language richness is due to a huge social participation. Like metonyms and hyperboles, metaphors appear with increasing frequency both in newspapers, radio and TV commentary, to awake the interest of readers. Apart from established formations, however, most metaphors are extremely short-lived as they can be linked, for instance, to a trendy usage in a particular period of time.

According to Lakoff and Johnson in Methaphors we live by, “the concept of metaphor is in the process of perception and understanding of the world”, so an analysis drawn on metaphors in football language can raise our awareness of how we shape images and create links from a special sector to an another special or not special field.

In his interesting and, personally, funny paper, Medina Montero realizes that the metaphors in the football language came from different semantic fields such as food, anatomy, astronomy, war – military (the largest one), botany, hunting and fishing, social classes, construction, other sports, education, show business, football itself, geometry, history, jewellery, play, literature, mechanics, medicine, mythology, music, nature, the nautical field, objects, politics, professions and trades and many others.

Another valuable point in Medina Montero’s analysis is that as far as translation between Spanish and Italian is concerned, equivalents are often difficult to find, due to the cultural embeddedness of many metaphorical expressions.

Let’s consider the following example; bizcocho, caramelo o perita en dulce (sponge cake, lit. sweet pear, candy), are three Spanish terms with a high sugar content used to refer to a bad team that, a priori, is easy to “eat” or beat. The Italian language prefers the term squadra materasso (mattress team), so not an edible term but rather related to home furnishings.

The work of Medina Montero stimulates reflection on different cultural points of view between two languages that are commonly famous to be close but maybe not as much as we usually believe.

Find the articles here below or in the section Theses and papers.


Introduction written by Francesca Bisiani

Terminology trainee at TermCoord

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