“Towards English for Baseball Purposes (EBP)”

Presenter: Philip S. Riccobono

Abstract:

Traditionally known as the “All-American” sport, baseball in recent decades has become increasingly internationalized. Indeed, non-native English-speaking players comprised 29.8% of the 2017 opening-day Major League Baseball team rosters, representing a record 19 nations and territories (MLB, 2017). Moreover, in 2012 international players at the minor league level filled 3,382 spots on team rosters (MLB, 2012). Additionally, English serves as the lingua franca for an array of international baseball events (e.g., the 2020 Olympics, the World Baseball Classic, sanctioned international baseball tournaments). To address the increasing globalization of baseball, a new sub-type of English for Occupational Purposes (EOP), English for Baseball Purposes (EBP) is needed, one containing technical vocabulary essential for communicating within this niche (Coxhead, 2013; Nation, 2008). Hitherto, no published research on this specific topic has emerged. Thus, the present study employs mixed methodological approaches to investigate technical and key baseball lexis across various genres of Baseball English (BE). Ethnographic interviews with N = 6 stakeholders of BE are combined with corpus-based and intuition-based approaches to formulate BE lexis beneficial to non-native English-speaking baseball specialists. This study deploys a Baseball English Corpus (BECO) compiled by the researcher (for his doctoral dissertation) from representative English texts using advanced corpus analysis applications and praxis. In keyword and phrase comparisons across BECO genres, findings indicate baseball core user spoken lexis as BECO’s most unique lexis. This study provides learners and educators of BE with insight into characteristics of BECO as well as its specific technical vocabulary and an exploration of pedagogical implications and praxis in the emerging field of EBP.

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