Why is football so full of cliches? | BBC Ideas
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Why is football so full of cliches? | BBC Ideas

October 8, 2019


Let’s get stuck in early doors. Why is football so full of clichés? Broadly speaking, there are two types
of football clichés. Firstly, there are the hypertruths – phrases that are so obvious that
they’re not even worth repeating. or… These hypertruths have persisted because they are comforting,
reliable filler. The footballing equivalent of say, talking about the weather
with your in-laws. Then there is the received wisdom – football phrases
that have become accepted as true despite having almost
no basis in logic. When a fan repeats such myths
as, “Some people say…” or that… it taps into their most primal fear – that their team will suddenly
and spectacularly let them down. Paranoia and pessimism are,
after all, central to the enjoyment of football. For all that the English language
of football has evolved into something rather ornate
over the last 150 years, other countries have embraced
their more poetic side. What we might describe as… that is the extreme
top corner of the goal, the Brazilians might call
‘onde a dorme coruja’, literally – where the owl sleeps. While English has countless ways to describe the fundamental
act of scoring a goal, none are quite as evocative
as the French – ‘faire trembler les filets’ – make the nets quiver. Suddenly… doesn’t quite sound so impressive. Football commentary is awash
with bizarre words and phrases borrowed from other walks of life,
often from decades ago. When else in their day to day life would the average football fan
use the words… …that is a goal scored tidily
but with a flourish. Or… …once used for 18th century pirates but now for a defender who has
a habit of suddenly bursting upfield to join the attack. The development
of the football lexicon has largely been a one-way street but it has given the occasional word
or phrase back to the wider English language. …some claim originates from the
BBC’s radio coverage in the 1920s, when a commentator would
refer to a grid system, printed in the Radio Times, to indicate where the ball was
on the pitch at that moment. Despite the negative connotation, clichés do have a useful function. They exist to fill gaps,
to lubricate debate and to act as a conversational
leveller between a novice …and an expert. So with the saturation
of football coverage spare a thought
for the much maligned cliché because… where would we be without them? Thanks for watching! 🙂 Don’t forget to subscribe and click the bell to receive notifications for new videos. See you!

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