The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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The Tower of Ryan Babel: Football, Language, and Translation

tower-of-babel.jpgThis week’s Run of Play at Pitch Invasion feature looks at the problem of communication in the globalized world of contemporary football, and asks how, with such a wide range of languages in use at any given moment, players, managers, fans and the media are ever able to understand one another.

When an average club contains players with seven or eight different native languages, has a manager who speaks a ninth, and is tracked by media from 65 countries and by fans from every corner of the globe, how do we avoid a complete breakdown of meaning? What’s keeping us from endlessly replicating all those old stories about Tokyo hotels with signs reading, “You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid,” or Hong Kong dry cleaners that urged gentlemen to “drop your trousers here for best results”?

Read the full post here, and spend some time exploring Pitch Invasion while you’re there.


The Tower of Ryan Babel: Football, Language, and Translation

by Brian Phillips · December 20, 2007

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