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Language Study

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Language Study

What is the difference between and the purpose of the language of Australian rules football panel TV programs and the language used by football crowds on game day and what impact does this have on audience?


Language is the way we all communicate all across the world which differs depending on the nation you are a part of. It can also differ culturally for example religion, gender, local community or sport. Within all sports, language differs in form, tone and … depending on context. This language study focusing on Australian rules football is unique in its language that is spoken but that same language is different depending on how the sport is presented. For example, the language of Australian rules football differs greatly between that delivered on AFL TV shows and that heard at from live AFL crowd of supporters at a game. This study will look examine the language used within and between into the two contexts to help explain what is the difference between the language of Australian rules football panel TV programs and the language used by football crowds on game day.


AFL talk shows generally involve a panel of people who are experts in the game and have experience playing or involvement with commentating on games. These shows are designed for entertainment but also to give a deeper understanding through a more involved discussion such as positions and skills so the language used is more descriptive, more technical and more about how the game should be played from a technical point of view. The language used involves “percentages”, “ball skills” and “positions” played and amount of games played so the viewers gain a deeper knowledge of the game. Panellists and hosts of AFL TV shows tend to be a lot more neutral with their opinions and don’t necessarily show favouritism to any side with the exception of some people who do show biased and say controversial things that which makes good TV and boosts ratings. Personal opinions may appear in the shows and the panellists may play or have played for a certain club but their language will still reflect a more neutral tone without showing too much emotion and a civilised conversation rather than a heated argument you may see at a game between supporters.

AFL supporters during a live game, show a lot more emotion and tend to be very animated with their support by yelling, screaming, shouting and cheering. The spectators may even yell at the players and other spectators because of getting caught up in the atmosphere and the spectators being passionate about their team and how they are playing at the time.  The audience will tend to use much more provocative language and involve comments about how the game is being played and about particular moments in the game like “Great Mark” or “awesome tackle”.  live AFL fans may swear and become very loud and at times, some people can become abusive with their language because of their feelings about how their team is playing. In recent years, two of these abusive circumstances transpired where a member of the crowd actually shouted racial slurs at indigenous players such as “Monkey” first at Sydney Swans’ player Adam Goods and just a year later similar comments were used against Adelaide crows’ player Eddie Betts. A live game audience may also abuse the umpires calling them “crap” or “playing favourites” implying that they are not a very good umpire. Because of their frustration at decisions and also may abuse players from the opposition team and also spectators supporting the opposing team.

Some spectators at games can become quite different to the people they usually are in their normal lives. The game can make them use language they wouldn’t normally use in their day to day lives because of being caught up in the moment of the game. Some fans take pride being the “19th man” supporting the players from the stands.  

AFL talk shows tend to involve ex-players, current players or other people involved closely with the game of AFL so the way in which they talk about the game is from a more technical and personally involved point of view.  They analyse matches played in recent week and speak about “team tactics” and the “behind the scenes” of the game such as how the clubs as a whole are run. Coaches who are guests on the show from teams may talk about individual players and their “skills” or injuries or level of “involvement in a game”.  They’re designed to be educational and friendly to all audiences.

There are many TV panel shows dedicated to the AFL which have different themes and focuses. The most famous the footy show puts lots of comedic twists and tries to show the game in a very light manner. There are shows like AFL 360 or AFL Game Day where the language used is more technical so the panellists can analyse the game efficiently. There even shows like the Marngrook footy show which is an AFL show dedicated to the indigenous players involved in the sport.   (Fox Sports, 2016)

Live Australian rules audiences vary from peaceful speaking fans to fans that are considered “feral”, that use abusive language, and talk in a way that generally doesn’t convey education or knowledge of the game. They may use coarse language that doesn’t describe the game for example, calling the Umpires “Maggots” because they made a decision that wasn’t popular or by yelling at opposition players and making personal remarks about them or their families just to be abusive. Language used by a live crowd is probably not going to educate about what the game is about or how it is played or what the purpose of the game is, if you attend the game, the expectation is that you have an idea of the rules and the meaning to the game. International visitors from around the world that come to watch a live game in Australia to experience the national sport are bewildered by the intense behaviour and heavy language used by the fans. The fans can be erratic with their behaviour and insulting with their language which has caught foreigners off guard.

Audience (Aims and language and effects of different types of ARF shows – aims, language and effects of live supporters

The “AFL” TV shows encourage a wide audience – the more technical AFL shows like AFL 360 will tend to attract more hard core fans as they are more interested in the technical side of the game and hearing about “outcomes” and “percentages” which aren’t quite as popular among all fans as while its very informing it may become boring for those who aren’t hard core fans. Shows like these educate heavily about knowledge on the game and can make a fan calmer or patient with their language and behaviour live games.



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