For journalists covering the upcoming Olympic Games, the Tower of London might as well be the Tower of Babel. More than 200 countries will be sending athletes to London, and every one of those athletes will have a story. So, all of you English-speaking “scribbly liners”—as a late and beloved Boston Globe copy desk chief used to call reporters in the days of that antique tool known as the pencil—open your notebooks. Or turn on your digital recorders. Or hit the button on your iPhone. Or fire up the video camera. Or whatever.
Here are five hints, for what they’re worth, on how to cope with the language barrier when you’re interviewing track and field or marathon athletes at the Olympics or elsewhere:
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg