Linguistics was the winner on the day

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2013
linguistics

LIKE I SAID: Victoria University graduand Kieran File now trains teams - including the Wellington Lions and Hurricane - in the use of language in the media.

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Look, at the end of the day, that's football - and it's the sort of cliche that has helped to secure Kieran File a doctorate from Victoria University.

As British football commentators might put it, the boy done good.

Mr File, an avid sports fan - and now doctor of applied linguistics - has spent the past four years studying the language of post-match interviews with golf, tennis, rugby and football players.

While much of it could be cliched, it performed important functions, he said yesterday.

"'That's football' is one of my favourites - it can help players brush off things that have gone badly and that way they come across as level-headed and not easily jolted by negative happenings in the match."

He is already putting what he has learnt into use by training sportspeople and teams - including Wellington Lions and the Hurricanes - in the use of language in media interviews.

"‘Some people may want to be deliberately uninformative, some people may want to be quite out there, some may want a higher profile and want to try different things," he said.

"Fans really want to know about these guys, they want to know what makes them tick, what they think, what their opinions are.

"At times, post-match interviews, yep, may lack substance, so if I can build awareness of how they can offer something more to the fans, then that would be the goal."

Many sporting cliches were the same worldwide, but New Zealand and Pacific cultures could play into how interviews were conducted here, he said.

"We do like our sports players modest and down to earth . . . sometimes in Pacific Island cultures there is the understanding that what I have to say is unimportant, and yet when they are suddenly rugby superstars everyone wants to know what they have to say."

Mr File is one of Victoria's 61 PhD graduands, and one of nearly 1200 students graduating from the university this week, many of whom will take part in the traditional parade through central Wellington at noon today.

HOW THEY RATE

Richie McCaw: He tries really hard to give fans a bit of insight into the match, but one of the things he does really well with his language is he really looks after his team. He does captaincy through his language choices, he is very respectful and it doesn't bring any unwanted negative attention to the team.''bf

Roger Federer: ''One thing he does well is engages his audience by involving them directly in post-match interviews, by thanking them or indicating  it was them who contributed at picking up particular sections of the crowd or messages he  received. He comes across confident but in defeat he's incredibly magnanimous.''

Jimmy Cowan: do get a very honest opinion, you get the feeling you're getting what he actually thinks. He also gives quite good emotional reactions .... language which gives a feeling for how he and his team are reacting to that loss or win. He won't let an interviewer sugarcoat a loss if he thinks the team didn't play well.''

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Lydia Ko: ''She comes across very down to earth, despite the fact she's a superstar. She uses language to downgrade the hype that is often directed at her in interviews, and that helps her construct this modest identity ... she uses laughter quite well, and she uses personal stories as well about her family and upbringing.''

 

 

- The Dominion Post

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