World Cup: Lessons in the Language of Football

I will admit that the start of the world cup leads to my partner and I adopting stereotypical roles: him an excitable, uncharacteristically optimistic die hard patriot and me beleaguered and abandoned, seething with resentment at having to switch over Love Island in favour of yet another crucial match. This year though I have decided to embrace it. Well in the classroom at least. During the World Cup, students who are sometimes almost comatose with apathy in class are transformed; it is quite amazing to see them so energised and animated in the corridors as they debate the relative chances of different nations with an encyclopaedic knowledge of players, coaches, managers and strategies. It seems too good an opportunity to let pass which has got me thinking about the power of not just the topic and subject matter but of the language which surrounds it.

There’s a sense of passion that pervades the rhetoric of football and how writers achieve this is really interesting. We can break down lexis into its component parts and consider the power of semantic fields, euphemism, idiom, colloquialisms and even cliché. The dense complex sentences brim with embedded clauses and provide efficient delivery of lots of information; they become goldmines for constructing and dissecting syntax. Continue reading “World Cup: Lessons in the Language of Football”