Back in the early 90s, Russian television began to show competitions in the kinds of sports not yet known in Russia. New sports brought many new concepts and terms into the vocabulary of the Russian language.
In addition to the federal media, regional ones also started covering sporting events, both local and national. The vocabulary of the regional media is somewhat different, as the features of a particular subject of the Russian Federation are taken into account.
Sports commentators try to do everything possible so that the viewer (or listener) becomes not only interested in the report but also experiences emotional stress [4, pp. 111-116]. This emotional background is characteristic of sports broadcasts. In order to ensure a high level of emotionality, commentators use phraseological units (hereinafter – PU) in their speech. The use of phraseological units enables excluding excessive formality and monotony of sports reports [3, pp. 78-83]. Sports presenters on television use the phraseological diversity of the Russian language in their speech as a source of expression and emotional involvement, which is almost obligatory for sports reports.
Phraseology is a well-studied linguistic discipline. The theoretical and methodological basis of the paper is comprised of the works of A.N. Baranov, V.V. Vinogradov, D.O. Dobrovolsky, V.P. Zhukov, V.M. Mokienko, V.N. Telia, A.I. Fedorov et al. We will rely on the narrow understanding of phraseological units, which defines them as units that are characterized by “idiomaticity, expressiveness, stability, reproducibility, imagery, nominative function” [9, P. 413].
The existence of various approaches, wide and narrow understanding of a set expression as a linguistic unit, makes the use of set combinations in a particular type of speech and in texts of a certain genre especially important and relevant [6, P. 456].
The article analyses a number of television broadcasts of hockey matches on the regional television channel Ugra. During the study, we will determine which categories of phraseological units are used by commentators in sports television broadcasts, and what role they play. It should be noted right away that the use of phraseological units is a characteristic feature of the sports journalists’ speech [10, P. 119]. Some researchers believe that sports discourse becomes an object of attraction and use of the idioms that are not suitable for other types of discourse or are applied in a different meaning. In this regard, O. A. Kazennova expresses the opinion that in this case, the semantics of the use of the corresponding idioms are changing. This is also confirmed by the fact that when moving from one type of discourse to another, phraseology keeps its sound form. However, at the same time, its meaning may differ significantly from the original [1, pp. 60-64]. For example, in this aspect, you can analyse such a phraseological unit as run the show. In the traditional sense, this phraseological unit means the presence of a subject of power [7, P. 790]. However, in sports reports, the use of this phraseology is based on the achievements of the sports team in the standings. This can be clearly seen in the following example: “Today, the defenders of both teams run the show (Lokomotiv — Donbas in Donetsk)” [5, pp. 60-68].
Before moving on directly to the research, a few words should be said about the conceptual apparatus of the article. The work uses the Thesaurus of Modern Russian Idiom edited by A.N. Baranov and D.O. Dobrovolsky. The subject of the study is idioms, defined as “super-word formations that are characterized by a high degree of idiomaticity and stability” by the authors of the dictionary [11, P. 43].
We selected the most significant sports TV broadcasts of hockey matches at the regional and federal levels broadcast on the Ugra channel (more than 50 reports were recorded and transcribed). It should be noted that commentator S. Kuritsyn uses phraseological units and idioms of various thematic groups, mainly in their direct use. Interesting are the specific semantics and a distinctive area of use of phraseological combinations. The commentator’s task is to highlight the game. Therefore, he uses different expressions, including the ones that are quite contradictory.
Collected material enabled us to distinguish four semantic (thematic) groups of phraseological units.
1. The concept of “success, victory” can be realized in reports with the help of several phraseological units. For example, sports commentator S. Kuritsyn uses such phrases as rest on one’s laurels, run the show, be on a roll, etc. (14.5% of phraseological units). Here are some examples.
1) “Lokomotiv” cannot rest on its laurels now (with the tied score of 3:3) (“Lokomotiv” Yaroslavl — “Donbass” Donetsk)” [5, pp. 60-68];
2) “Today, the defenders of both teams run the show (“Lokomotiv” Yaroslavl – “Donbass” Donetsk)” [5, pp. 60-68].
The above examples of phraseological units in sports journalism were used by commentators not only to add emotionality to the commentary (though an emotional tone is one of the necessary conditions for this kind of reporting). In this case, they are also used to emphasize the importance of an event, the significance of the game for a particular team.
Based on the obtained observation results, it can be concluded that the main part of the studied idioms and collocations used in sports discourse are elements of the opposite semantic group: LOSS, FAILURE, and LACK OF SUCCESS. Analysing the sports comments of the television reporter, the following phraseological units from the analysed thematic group were noted: be in tatters, give beans, be lame in both legs/be lame in one leg, close up shop, spoil somebody’s game, etc. (24.2% of phraseological units). Here are some examples:
1) “At the end of the second period we are staved in (score 2:1 — the goal is scored to the Yaroslavl team) (Lokomotiv — Dynamo Riga)” ;
2) “Lokomotiv’s game has been spoiled a little by this removal of Cornwall (Lokomotiv — Slovan)” ;
3) “Lokomotiv has received a flick on the nose from the young guys” (score 2: 4) (“Lokomotiv” — “Metallurg,” Magnitogorsk)” .
2. The analysis of sports television reports of the Ugra channel enabled us to prove that set expressions from the semantic field of RISK, DANGER, THREAT are used in the semantic category of CAUTION, DANGER, and namely: play with fire, it’s getting really tough, go for broke, have a gut feeling, tempt fate, lay down at stake, hit a nerve, bite back, etc. (11.3% PU). It should be noted that the phraseological units included in this category are the most common in the discourse of sports journalism. Examples given below confirm this.
1) “Well, dear friends, on the eve of February 23, Lokomotiv hit everyone’s nerves, but still managed to make our day to celebrate the occasion (HC Lokomotiv — HC of the Russian Navy) (score 3:2)” ;
2) “You need to have a gut feeling to know where the puck is. We play in our own Arena (Lokomotiv — SKA St. Petersburg)” .
3. According to the results of the analysis, phraseological units that belong to the semantic category HEAT OF THE GAME, MATCH TENSION are actively used in sports journalism: breathe fire and brimstone, stick to something tooth and nail, bloodbath, hang on with one’s teeth for dear life, be at loggerheads, suck the blood of somebody (9.7% of phraseological units). The resulting conclusion is confirmed by the following examples:
1) “They must stick to it tooth and nail! (“Lokomotiv” — SKA SPb)” ;
2) “We got out of a heavy meeting with the 2:1 score. On Sunday there will be a battle at loggerheads against Moscow CSKA (HC Lokomotiv — HC Leo Prague)” ;
3) “The majority factor can now come through. If we score one, it will be good; if we score two, we will breathe fire and brimstone (score 0:3 in favor of SKA)” .
The sports commentator depicts a possible prospect of a successful game for the Lokomotiv team with the help of the phraseological unit breathe fire and brimstone — “to be in the state of indignation, irritation, frenzy, rampage” [7, p. 785].
4. Analysis of individual sports reports often indicates that when it comes to the age of an athlete or their physical parameters, commentators use idioms from the semantic group AGE: new blood, in full vigour, green blood, etc.) (6.4 % PU). For instance:
1) “Our up-and-comers, our hot links — Aleksandr Polunin, Egor Korshkov, Pavel Kraskovsky (4th link) (Lokomotiv — SKA St. Petersburg)” .
Often, in connection with this, a television commentator focuses on PROFESSIONALISM and EXPERIENCE of various athletes: go through fire and water, know something in and out, old stager, etc.).
Sergey Kuritsyn often opposes YOUTH and HOTNESS of novice hockey players and the EXPERIENCE and PROFESSIONALISM of the others. For example:
2) “New blood introduced into the team did its job. Buchnevich and Barabanov scored a goal at halves (Lokomotiv — SKA St. Petersburg)” .
A colloquial and expressive phraseological unit up-and-comers is used when talking about a person “experienced beyond one’s years, clever, someone, who, despite their young age, has already managed to show their worth” [7, p. 792].
According to the results of the researchers’ observation, we can conclude that when creating sports reports in most semantic categories, only one or two directions are distinguished and used most often [2, P. 60-64].
After considering the use of phraseological units in sports television journalism, we can conclude that phraseological units have a dual function. On the one hand, they make the report more emotional. On the other, they play an informative function. The task of the sports commentator is not just to talk on air for a set period of time, but to engage the viewer, to prevent the audience from switching to another channel. Moreover, the use of phraseological phrases makes the report more informative, but at the same time more emotional. While watching the broadcast of a sports game, the viewer wants to experience emotions, not simply to hear official statistics. The implementation of this particular function is performed by phraseological units in the speech of sports commentators.
Based on the analysis of sports television broadcasts, a number of conclusions can be drawn.
1. Phraseological units in the speech of television presenters of sports reports are actually compulsory phrases, since they make the report more emotional.
2. With the help of phraseological units, sports commentators add additional argumentation to their reports, which is mostly emotional, but at the same time is quite objective regarding the description of the personality of certain players.
3. There are four thematic groups of phraseological units used in sports reporting. The analysis of individual broadcasts showed that the most frequent ones are used within the concepts of “victory,” “luck” (14.5%), “danger” (11.3%).
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