umpire and referee

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by mathman, May 28, 2020.

  1. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    In many sports the chief official controlling the game is called a referee. In baseball the term umpire is used. What is the origin of the difference?
     
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    "An umpire refers to sports officials who apply their services in various kinds of sports competitions, whereas a referee is the person who ensures that all the rules and regulations of the game are correctly followed while the game is in progress."
    http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-umpire-and-referee/

    "Basically, for the most part they're the same. The slight difference is that referees uphold the quality of the game (enforce rules) while umpires settle disputes. "
    https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlik...why_some_sports_have_umpires_and_others_have/
     
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  5. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Umpires cause disputes.

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  7. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    and then
    there is american football
     
  8. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    From these comments it seems that baseball umpires should be called referees.
     
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Football has both referees and umpires, and also judges.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_(gridiron_football)#Umpire

    Referee: straight from the construction, one to whom something has been referred. Papers submitted to journals may be referred to a referee.

    Umpire: a third or neutral party who determines the status of something, some issue about which people disagree or are in structural conflict. If there are no pairs of disagreeing people, no sides, there is no umpire. If people are fighting, they are refereed (part of a baseball umpire's more or less unofficial duties - not formally part of their job).

    In a currently available HBO decently accurate movie about the context of baseball, two baseball announcers talking about a threat of personal hostility on the field during a game, one says about the official calling balls and strikes that he's at risk of having to become "more of a referee than an umpire".
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
  10. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Neither of these are entirely correct, although may hold in some, or even the majority of, sports.

    Cricket, for example, has both. The two men officiating out in the middle, who determine if a wicket has been taken, a legitimate delivery has been bowled or not, and enforce the rules while the game is in progress (such as those covering no-balls, bowlers infringing on the "danger area" in their follow-through, dangerous play etc) are called the umpires, and not referees. Just as a referee in soccer will call a foul, so will an umpire in cricket if the bowler has overstepped the mark, etc.
    In higher levels, especially internationals, there's also a "third umpire" to review footage when a decision is referred to them (e.g. DRS - following a disputed decision), which is more in keeping with the description of the umpire you post above.
    But then there's also a "match referee", whose job it is to make judgements over things such as codes of conduct, handing out penalties (such as fines) for breaches - and this is done after the game, following reports from the umpires.

    One description of the difference between the two that I've come across is that referees move with the game, while umpires are static. This certainly holds for referees in soccer, the rugby codes, and the hockeys etc. And for umpires in tennis and cricket. I don't know enough about most other sports to know where the exceptions undoubtedly are, though.

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    It may also be that in the very early days of the sport, there was a more obvious reason for the officiating individuals to be called one thing or another, and that reason may have been lost over time, such that it is now all rather blurry. But you'd have to examine the history of the sports to see if that pans out.
    In cricket, for example, it might be that the game, being played by "honourable gentlemen", had no need for referees and only had need of someone neutral to opine on the fall of a disputed wicket - i.e. an umpire. But with the introduction of more structure to the game, the umpire became more of a referee while retaining the title of umpire. Something like that.
     
  12. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    This seems to be true for American football and basketball (referees), and baseball (umpire).
     
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Short version of the post above:
    A referee decides which of the parties in a referred dispute is in the right.
    An umpire decides which of the possibilities in an uncertain situation obtains in reality.

    That's a significant difference, actually.
     
  14. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    There seems to be some merit to the idea. In basketball, football, hockeym the referee mainly calls fouls In baseball, the umpire calls safe or out, balls or strikes.
     
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