Thursday, December 30, 2010

soccer vs. football

Too late for The World Cup, but thanks to Stan Carey at Sentence First, I only just now discovered that we Yanks are not the only English speakers who use soccer to refer to, ya know, that game where you can't touch the ball with your hands (tennis? no... the one that Ronaldo plays). In fact, there are about 74 million OTHER English speakers in this world who use soccer to refer to Ronaldo's game too. Add the USA's 308 million, and it is almost certainly the case that more English speakers use soccer than football. With that, I say thppppt to the English...

(image from Wikipedia)

UPDATE [3:38PM eastern]: reader vp points out the following passage from the same Wikipedia article the image came from: several official publications of the English Football Association have the word "soccer" in the title. Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski write that soccer was the most common name for the game in Britain from the 1890s until the 1970s, and suggest that the decline of the word soccer in the UK, and the incorrect perception that it is an Americanism, were linked to awareness of the North American Soccer League in the 1970s.


vp said...

It used to be common in England too. The Wikipedia article has more details.

"Soccer" belongs with a large group of usages that have become incorrectly stigmatized as "Americanisms" in Britain. The -ize spelling in words like "stigmatize" is another.

This phenomenon probably results from cultural insecurity. (I say this as an ex-Brit)

Chris said...

nice one, thanks for pointing that out!

lozguistics said...

Australians never think of the word 'soccer' as an Americanism. But then soccer is only one of three games people will call 'football' in Australia - depending on whether they are referring to soccer, rugby or Australian Rules. You can have a conversation between three people who are all talking about football and referring to three different things.

Licia said...

Slightly OT, but you might like John Cleese rants - Soccer vs Football

rhb said...

So I suppose it's really thppppt you 'Mercans for using our cast-offs.


(Also an ex-Briton, but one who can't stop associating 'Brit[s]' with 'OUT')