Monday 5 December 2016

Student serves up Andy Murray identity research

Published 24/11/2015 | 15:26

A dissertation found that reporting on Andy Murray's national identity depended more on the type of newspaper and where it was published
A dissertation found that reporting on Andy Murray's national identity depended more on the type of newspaper and where it was published

The view that tennis star Andy Murray is more often described as British when he wins and Scottish when he loses has been dispelled by new research.

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Stirling University student Ben Dickson examined the use of national identity in sports reporting.

His dissertation study, part of his master of science postgraduate course, analysed about 200 UK press reports on the Dunblane player's Wimbledon matches from 2005 to 2014.

He found that, d espite Murray losing or winning his match, all sections of the press remained consistent when describing his national identity.

Mr Dickson also discovered that reporting on Murray's national identity depended more on the type of newspaper and where it was published.

Scottish newspapers referred to Murray as Scottish twice as frequently as they referred to him as British.

In the UK national press, broadsheets had an increased tendency to refer to Murray as Scottish while tabloids referred to him as British.

Analysis of key words showed that broadsheets tended to give a voice to Murray only when he was successful and that tabloids tended to use more personal language like first names and nicknames.

He said: "Following on from a previous small-scale study I had done for my corpus linguistics module - and as a tennis fan - I was determined to put this issue to bed once and for all.

"My research shows that the result of Andy Murray's matches does not affect the way the UK-based press refer to his national identity.

"What has been identified, however, is that nationalism is key to the language of sports reports in the UK."

Dr Vander Viana, lecturer in teaching English to speakers of other languages and applied linguistics at the School of Education, who supervised the study, said: "The analysis of language constantly throws up surprises.

"Our intuitions on how we think we use language and how we actually use it are not the same, as this fascinating corpus research shows."

Press Association

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