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Announcing announcers’ English atrocities

I was watching a hockey game last week and heard the announcer say after a couple of players scuffled after the whistle: “The two are exchanging words back and forth.”

I have done some live commentary, and it is not easy, but hearing something like that makes you realize that announcers sometimes aren’t really thinking about what’s coming out of their mouths.

Take the British announcer calling the Henley Regatta boat race between Cambridge and Oxford some years ago: “They’re almost at the line . . . Oxford in front . . . No, it’s Cambridge . . . Well, one of them is in front.”

As the saying goes, thank you, Captain Obvious.

Other times, it’s having too much information which you happen to look to at the wrong second: “And here’s Moses Kiptanui, the 19-year-old Kenyan, who turned 20 a few weeks ago.”

I would be guessing the announcer glanced down while he was speaking, saw Kiptanui’s birthdate, and had already forgotten he had mentioned his (former) age.

It’s not always the play-by-play people who make the mistakes. A lot of colour commentators are very knowledgeable about their sport, but can’t always phrase that knowledge correctly.

Like the fellow asked for his opinion on a football game who said, “well, if history repeats itself, I think we should expect the same thing again.”

And let’s not forget the players, like the football player who informed us, “I’ve never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body.”

Speaking of injuries to specific body parts, there was the soccer announcer who saw a player take a ball right in the face and go down in a heap: “That may be a broken nose. It looks like the same nose he broke last year.”

And one of my favourites, from an announcer of a women’s distance race at a major meet: “That is a new world record for Grete Waitz. She smashed the old record. It’s also a personal best for Waitz.”

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