romance languages

Musings on Romance Languages: Multilingualism on the European Soccer Field

June 9, 2011 by Alyssa Paris
Category: "Spot" on Language, Culture

ZidaneHave you ever wondered how some European soccer players so effortlessly transfer from club to club, country to country, without spending at least a semester in intensive language immersion? France’s Zinedine Zidane, for example, played for Cannes and Bordeaux, then Juventus, in Piedmont, Italy, and later Real Madrid, in Spain. In crucial moments of the game, was he able to come up with the right translation for, “Pass the ball now!”, without a split second of hesitation?

If you’ve watched any post-game interviews, you know the answer to this. These professional soccer players are not only amazing athletes; they are also gifted language learners. Several of the Brazilians who play for Spanish teams, for example, have only the slightest accent as they recount the critical game plays to the Spanish press. How do these world-class players have time to study the language of their club? The secret to their quick language acquisition in this case is the Romance language advantage.

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