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Closed Caption Communications - Bridging language gaps in sports

Published:Friday | January 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMRocheda Bartley
Linguist Monique Robb (left) and business mastermind Joel Laing.

Imagine what the world would be without sports. There would be no Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi, Shelly-Ann Fraser, or the legendary Usain Bolt. Sports lovers who depend on the exciting games for oxygen to survive would think of life as dull and hollow. Yes, let's give thanks for sports. But how meaningful is a game if you can't understand the language of the commentators, players or coaches? You'll probably miss a stirring comment from your favourite sports personality or the reason for red card.

Closed Caption Communications, a young interpretation organisation in Kingston, has deemed it its responsibility to bridge language difference gaps, which often poses a challenge in sports and several other industries.

Growing out of a vision by linguist Monique Robb and business mastermind Joel Laing, the organisation dubs itself as the best on the island that offers this service.

Initially, its aim was to act as a catalyst for the Government and corporate bodies to develop the nation and expand the reach of Jamaica's culture globally through a greater understanding of language and linguistics. Now, the organisation has expanded its horizons by tapping into the realm of sports.

"We believe that the different sporting cultures influence all aspects of a country and its people. For example, the African countries are really good at long-distance races, and the Asian countries excel in precision sports. If we [Jamaicans] could communicate with them, we could learn from each other and develop our various sporting disciplines," Robb told Flair.

Formed in late 2017, Closed Caption Communications is now a six-member team, with all except one being interpreters. The group specialises in Mandarin, French, Spanish and Chinese. Its latest project is with a group of Chinese coaches who are in Jamaica on a coach/training agreement between the Jamaican and Chinese governments, training some of our fellow basketball, volleyball, and badminton players and swimmers.




As intense competitors, one of our aims is to market and sell our culture To the world. Interpretation is a vital component in exporting sports and selling the Jamaican brand through our sportsmen and women. This is one key area that the group intends to promote.

"Interpretation helps us to establish a sport as a business, for example, football. The Barclay's Premier League in England is broadcasted all over the world in an array of languages. Through interpretation, people who speak different languages will be able to understand what is going on. And this can impact the monetary value of sponsorship a team gets and the number of endorsement deals that arise, as the monetisation of the sport continues to increase." Laing explained.

Not only this. According to Laing interpretation helps the sporting arena in accessing good quality equipment and in developing proper training facilities. He believes foreign exposure can help us to identify what our facilities are lacking.

The organisation wants the sporting realm to consider interpretation more seriously. It believes greater opportunities lies ahead if sport marries interpretation.

"Remember, some of the training skills and disciplines that are currently being practised here and in other countries can now be clearly understood by everyone. These can now be shared more freely or as freely as you will allow," Robb advises.

So, here's your chance athletes, Don't let it pass.

*Note: The names of the individuals mentioned in this article have been updated.