The Language of Football

Euro 2016 special

phrases, rivalries, accents, history

Click through for Euro 2016 stuff, scroll down for your regular TLOF Articles

Communication profile: Antonio Conte

How the Chelsea boss gets his message across.

Why European football needs English, but not The English

Talking Brexit and football’s second language.

European football’s top 5 words for a nutmeg

5 ways to describe football’s most humiliating move.

Diego Simeone and the language of motivation

He doesn’t just push his players, he stretches at their limits until they twang. But what really stands out about Diego Simeone is his ability to keep that going over such a long period of time. There has been many… Continue Reading →

4 signature moves in European football (featuring Papin, Cruyff, Zlatan)

Saluting the players who have had the honour of seeing their name become a footballing thing.

Naming and claiming the Panenka in Italy

How Panenka’s signature move arrived in Italy, and ended up with a whole new name.

On Bristol Rovers, Boca Juniors and the power of reappropriation

Language is power, and by reclaiming insults and abuse fans can take control of that power. Featuring vultures, pigs and whole heap of horse poo.

Language of a moment: Zidane 2006

As a change of pace, we wrote a piece for In Bed with Maradona. It looks at how the French media came to terms with Zidane’s headbutt in 2006, and the language they used to do so.

Player Pronunciation: Kieran Trippier

The Tottenham right-back is Lancashire to the core, yet there is a French flourish to his name which casts doubt on the pronunciation.

How different languages view football’s number 10

From the hook, to the holy, to the half-hearted, how the AMC is described around the world.

Beyond Gegenpressing: the language of tactical innovation in German football

Looking at tactical developments in German football, and the complex, resourceful language that gave them form.

Interview with Marc Joss: football translator and interpreter (part 2)

In part two, we talk to Marc about his interpreting work with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham.

Interview with Marc Joss: football translator and interpreter (part 1)

In the first of a two-parter, we chat with football translator and interpreter Marc Joss about the translation side of his work.

What’s In A Name?: Wanderers

In the first of almost certainly many posts on the derivation of football clubs’ names, we take a look at the brief popularity of the term Wanderer during the formative years of league football in England.

Player Pronunciation: Kevin De Bruyne

He’s back, so we should probably nail that surname once and for all…

Cliché Corner: ‘to gift’

It’s only football that uses it like this (we think).

Terminology: Footix

One cockerel’s journey from mascot to insult.

Terminology: Mascot

The unsettling origins of what is, let’s be honest, an unsettling phenomenon.

Too many Messis: The plural individual

In the first of hopefully many guest contributions, Dr Wilfred Jack Rhoden has written a piece on your Sherwoods, your Nevilles, your Scholes, your Camerons and even your Dickens. That’s right, the case of the plural proper noun, in football and beyond…

Cliché Corner: Very Much So, Clive

In which we take a linguistic look at why Andy Townsend is bad at his job, and celebrate the ‘less is more’ approach to football commentary.

Who needs English when you can speak football?

Gabriel Paulista may not speak a word of the Queen’s but he can always rely on the language spoken by his hands, feet and head. Is spoken English entirely necessary in order to succeed as a footballer in the UK?

Terminology: Minnow

Looking at the fishy particulars of the word ‘minnow’, and enjoying the Greatest Cup Comeback in History.

The Bad Language of Football, starring Zlatan Ibrahimović

Exploring Zlatan’s foul, multilingual mouth, via the psychology of swearing and Roy Keane’s disregard for basic biology.

Terminology: Calcio

Violent noblemen in fancy costumes fighting over a cow? That’s right, it’s the birth of Italian football.

Nothing but a ‘G’ thing at Manchester United, with Louis van Gaal and David de Gea

Silence may be golden with a hard ‘g’ but can the same be said for the surnames of Louis van Gaal and David de Gea? Perhaps a cameo appearance by a former Manchester United favourite will help to clarify this particular player pronunciation.

Terminology: Hooligan

Exploring the etymology of the hooligan, taking in music hall, the fighting Irish and a spectacular brain-turd from the Thatcher era.

Swede FA: Feminism and the Language of Football

A teenager takes on the Swedish FA and succeeds in making the rulebook gender neutral. Will FIFA follow suit?

How long before David Moyes “does a Shteve”?

The resurrection of David Moyes in Spain brings inevitable comparisons to recent expatriates who dared leave the Premier League and embrace different cultures/affect a silly accent.

Terminology: Soccer

A contentious word among English football fans, but it turns out we’ve only ourselves to blame…

Cliché Corner: Van Gaal’s Other Biscuit

In which the Manchester United manager and Josh Homme-a-like compares Chelsea to a biscuit, and we have a jolly good look at why.

Player Pronunciation: Graziano Pellè

The apparent ambiguity over how to pronounce the surname of the breakout star of Southampton’s unexpectedly successful season is perhaps almost as much of a surprise as the lofty position the Hampshire club finds themselves in currently.  As the player… Continue Reading →

Euro 2016 Profiles: Slovenia

Slovenia are a fascinating bunch, absorbing Romance, Germanic, and Finno Urgic influences into a glorious Slavic whole. Find out why Slovene is so romantic, how to cuss the referee and who exactly the Frog People are.

Terminology: Rabona

A journey down the origins of the ‘rabona’, from playing hooky, to tailless animals and military prostitutes.

Player Pronunciation: Ole Gunnar Solskjær

As a first entry on this blog, the name of the aforementioned, much-loved super sub is perhaps as good a start as any, representing as it does an example of how previously unfamiliar, non-native pronunciations can adapt into common awareness and usage.

Every day, when I wake up, I thank the Lord I’m Welsh!

It is heartening to hear that the Wales national team manager, Chris Coleman, is taking Welsh language lessons, in an effort to better engage with native speakers at the Welsh FA and across the nation.

Player Pronunciation: Gustavo Poyet

Until recently, I would not have been aware as to any other pronunciation of the former Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder’s name. But it was in a recent post-match interview at current club Brighton

The joy of Peter Reid’s colourful language

The Guardian reminded me today of the classic documentary Premier Passions, a five-part series following Peter Reid and his Sunderland side during their doomed Premier League campaign of 1996/1997.

Player Pronunciation: Dirk Kuyt

In response to a friend’s suggestion, I have cast a casual linguistic eye over the pronunciation of one Dirk Kuyt, industrious forward for The Netherlands and Liverpool.

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