Sports live text commentary as a hybrid register

Keywords: electronic registers, live text commentary (LTC), sports announcer talk (SAT), sports commentary, linguistic features


Aim: To present and analyze features of live text commentary (LTC) as a recent register of the English language using examples from the coverage of UEFA Euro 2020. The paper explores the influence of spoken language and sports announcer talk (SAT) on the register. It focuses on the differences and similarities between LTC and SAT and presents an overview of features unique to LTC.

Methods: LTC was examined as a text variety following Chovanec’s (2018) analysis and using the register perspective proposed by Biber and Conrad (2009). Examples from fourteen LTCs reporting on the UEFA Euro 2020 competition held in June/July 2021 were analyzed, including their typical situational and linguistic characteristics and some of their functions.

Results: LTC is a hybrid register that exemplifies today’s convergence of different media. LTCs take the context of production from live blogs, while their language is mainly reminiscent of SAT, including tense usage and adoption of certain forms. Spoken language, in general, is also an influence, especially on the syntactic and grammatical levels. Distinct LTC features include the internal structure, icons, and interactiveness of the text. The analyzed commentaries feature clearly outlined sections (e.g., opening and closing posts) that serve specific discursive purposes. Icons have a particular function in LTC; their meaning is well-established, and they sometimes function as utterances. Another remarkable characteristic is the intertextuality derived from text contributions provided by various spectators of the sports event, including fans. This interaction is, at times, simulated.

Conclusion: The paper confirmed LTC as a hybrid format with avenues for further hybridization. In LTC, we see an intertwining of different elements, which, taken together, produce a new whole in a process typical of the convergence seen in the media today. The most innovative aspects of LTC, the intertextuality, interactiveness, and co-production of a text, are limited.

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