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Football, fútbol, futbol, calcio II: terminology

In Part I of this series I discussed the expression the beautiful game used to refer to association football (which I will simply call football in the rest of this post). In this part I will look at the terminology mentioned by Joseph Lambert in his own blog post, The Terminology of the Beautiful Game.

The first half of the following table shows the terminology mentioned by Joseph Lambert in English, French and Italian, to which I have included the equivalents in Spanish and Catalan and English definitions.

Entries marked with an asterisk are not specific terms, but are ordinary words that could be used to describe the same situation.

The second half of the table contains additional interesting terms, and are discussed further below.

petit ponttunneltúneltúnelnutmegWhen the ball is played between the legs of an opposing player.
caviar*peach, *gemAn exceptionally good pass.
doppietadobletedobletbrace, double, pairTwo goals by the same player.
coup du chapeautriplettahat-trick, tripletehat-trick, triplethat-trickThree goals by the same player.
pokerpókerpòkerFour goals by the same player.
pokerissimo, manitamanitamaneta*score five, *thrashing, *thrash, *cricket score, *trounceFive goals, but not necessarily by the same player.
but [goal]golgolgolgoalIf you don't know what a goal is you probably won't be interested in this article!
cornercorner, calcio d'angolocórnercórnercornerDitto!
córner olímpicocórner olímpic*goal (straight/directly) from a corner, *score (straight/directly) from a cornerWhen the ball goes straight into the goal from a corner, without touching another player (except perhaps a small touch by a goalkeeper).
arbitrereferí, árbitroàrbitre/arefereeThe main official in charge of a match.
vuelta olímpicalap of honourWhen players walk around the edge of the pitch, celebrating in front of their fans.
cucchiaio, pallonettovaselinavaselinachipA short, high kick going over the head of an opposing player or over the arms of the opposing goalkeeper. Also used as a verb.
grand pont*autopase*autopase*beat, *go (a)roundWhen a player knocks the ball past an opponent on one side and runs around the other side of him or her.
lucarneescuadraescairetop cornerThe area just inside where the crossbar and post meet on the goalposts.
prolongationprórrogapròrrogaextra-timeAn additional 30 minutes of play in knockout matches when the scores are level at the end of ordinary time.
temps additionnelprolongación, descuento, tiempo añadidoprolongació, descompte, temps afegitinjury time, stoppage time, time added onAdditional time added by the referee to compensate for time lost due to injuries, substitutions or time-wasting.

Joseph’s article does not offer a translation of manita. I believe there is no specific term in English. We would either say that a team scored five or use an expression that refers to the fact that a team were well beaten, such as the verbs thrash or trounce. The expression cricket score is often used when a team is banging in the goals. A commentator might say ‘At one stage Arsenal looked like they might make it a cricket score‘. For those unfamiliar with cricket, this is an exaggeration. Even the lowest innings score ever in first-class cricket is 26, but normally a cricket score would be in excess of 150.

An interesting term in Spanish (and Catalan) is córner olímpico, literally an ‘Olympic corner’. In English we have no such term, so we’d just have to say that a player ‘scored straight from a corner’. According to Nicolás Alejandro Cunto’s blog, the term was coined when Argentina scored such a goal against Uruguay in 1924. The Uruguayan team had recently won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Paris, where they celebrated with a lap of honour, which in Spanish was dubbed a vuelta olímpica – an Olympic lap or tour – a term still used in Spanish – and in Catalan – to this day.

The same article by Nicolás Alejandro Cunto illustrates the much higher proportion of words borrowed from English in Latin American Spanish than in Spanish Spanish. He uses referí (referee) rather than árbitro and wing (winger) rather than lateral.

Another curious Spanish term is vaselina, literally meaning ‘Vaseline’, to refer to what in English we call a chip. In English the word chip is often used as a verb rather than a noun, so ‘marcó con una vaselina’ might become ‘chipped the ball (over the goalkeeper’s head and) into the net’.

Joseph’s article mentions petit pont (small bridge), the French term for a nutmeg. French football parlance also has the grand pont (big bridge), which is when an attacking player knocks the ball past a defender on one side and then runs around the other side of the defender. (If you’re confused by this explanation, watch this exquisite ‘grand pont’ and goal by an 8-year-old called Adam, and if you’re not confused, watch it anyway!) There is no term as precise as this in English. Although a translator could describe the action precisely by explaining the manoeuvre in detail, this is a good example of where it is better to let some information become lost in translation in the interest of maintaining good style (e.g. ‘Ronaldo beat Johnson on the right flank before unleashing a cross to the far post…’).

French refers to the top corner as the lucarne (skylight); Spanish and Catalan use escuadra and escaire respectively, both meaning ‘right angle’. The closer the ball is to the junction between the crossbar and the upright, the more likely a French writer or commentator is to say en pleine lucarne (‘right in the top corner’, or ‘in the very top corner’).

Finally, translators working between French and Spanish or French and Catalan should watch out for a false friend when referring to extra time and injury time (see the table for other synonyms). Extra time is called la prolongation in French, but in Spanish and Catalan prolongación and prolongació mean injury time; extra time is called prórroga and pròrroga respectively.


Key changer for OpenSong using the Do, Re, Mi system

Update on 5 November 2013

The original file I uploaded didn’t work properly. Please use this updated file.

If you want to see how it works, open up this demonstration file in a text editor, then run the exe file and play with the shortcut keys. Remember to release shift-ctrl before pressing each shortcut.


Various tools for projecting song words allow users to add chords to be used by musicians. Such tools are often used by Evangelical churches to project the words of a song for the congregation. In OpenSong files, lines starting with a dot are ignored by the software when projecting the words on a screen but are shown in exports used by the musicians, so a typical section of an OpenSong file might read something like this:

.Do Fa La Fa
These are some words to a song, shoop shoop

OpenSong has a tool to enable the user to change key, but since the program was designed by people in an English-speaking country that uses the “C, D, E,…” system, it is not designed to work with chords written using the “Do, Re, Mi,…” system.

I have designed a tool that will convert chords written in the “Do, Re, Mi,…” system used in Spain, among other places. You can download it here.

It has been tested with OpenSong. If you have files in a different format (i.e. chord lines don’t start with a dot), let me know and I’ll try to adapt it for you.

For this to work you must be using the scale Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, Do. If you live in a country that uses a slight variation, let me know and I’ll try to adapt it.

To use the tool, run the exe file, read the shortcuts in the dialogue box, then place your cursor in the text file (download a demo file here) containing the words and chords and press the appropriate shortcut. You can use it in the song editor in OpenSong or by opening the song source files in a text editor.


Football, fútbol, futbol, calcio I: the beautiful game

I recently stumbled upon an article by fellow specialist sports translator Joseph Lambert entitled The Terminology of the Beautiful Game. Joseph focuses on terminology in his source languages: French and Italian. My source languages are slightly different – I also translate from French, I don’t translate from Italian, and I translate from Spanish and Catalan – so with his permission I decided to write my own post incorporating his French and Italian terms and adding Spanish and Catalan terms.

I will examine the terms he discusses in a future article. In this post I will look at an expression used in the title of Joseph’s article. The term the beautiful game is instantly understood by English-speaking football fans – at least those in the UK and Ireland – as referring to association football, in the same way that boxing fans will instantly recognise the noble art as referring to their sport. Schott’s Sporting, Gaming & Idling Miscellany, by Ben Schott, lists three other poetic nicknames for sports: the sport of kings (horse racing), the gentle craft (angling), the noble science of defence (fencing) and the Tesserarian art (gambling).

The expression the beautiful game has no direct translation into French, Spanish and Catalan, so a translator working from English into these languages must either repeat the word football or use some other expression to refer to the sport. Spanish has the option of using the calqued translation balompié, which the Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas says “no ha gozado de mucha aceptación entre los hablantes y suele emplearse casi siempre por razones estilísticas, para evitar repeticiones en el discurso” (it is not widely used, and when it is it is nearly always for stylistic reasons to avoid repetition). French, meanwhile, can resort to the expression le ballon rond, which literally refers to the bag of air being booted around the field but is often used as a metonym to refer to the sport. French can also use the slightly informal shortened form foot (French can also remove the suffix -ball from the names of two other sports: handball and basketball).

Another alternative in English is soccer, a word that derives from association football (see next paragraph). I remember soccer being in widespread use when I was growing up as a child in England, but in recent times – perhaps particularly since the 1994 World Cup in the USA – it seems to have fallen out of favour in the UK, wrongly branded an unwelcome Americanism by many; the term was first coined in England. Generally it is used only in headlines (where there is a limit on the number of characters) or when specifically discussing football in America.

Association football is the official name of the sport, so called because it is based on the rules originally devised by the (English) Football Association. The full name is used in contexts where it is necessary to distinguish the game from other codes of football: rugby league, rugby union, American football, Canadian football, Australian-rules football (or Aussie- rules football, commonly referred to as footie in Australia) and Gaelic football. Technically the full name of the sport in French and Spanish is football association and fútbol asociación respectively – and FIFA actually stands for Fédération Internationale de Football Association – but these are rarely, if ever, used in those languages. Note that in English it is not unusual for a rugby (league or union) commentator to say something like “that’s excellent football by England” or “that’s excellent use of the football by Wales”.

Watch this space for a follow-up post on vocabulary used to describe the action during matches.

Anglo Premier Translations specialises in sports translations. For more information, visit the main website.


Pronunciation guide part I: the letter J

This is the first of a series of articles I will post about the pronunciation of foreign names. The articles will focus on famous names in sport that are often mispronounced by sports commentators and presenters.

Commentators and presenters should not be expected to pronounce all foreign names exactly as pronounced in the original language. For instance, it would sound pretentious for commentators to pronounce all French Rs the French way. But they should pronounce names as correctly as possible using phonemes (sounds) that exist in English.

Mispronunciations are often the result of the speaker reading a name as if it were English. But sometimes they occur because the speaker applies the pronunciation rules of one foreign language to a name that’s from another language – usually French, because it is the most familiar foreign language to most people in Britain.

For example, when referring to the controversial Uruguayan footballer Luis Suárez, Liverpool’s manager Brendan Rodgers calls the striker LEW-ee, with a silent S. He does this three times in the following interview alone.

This is a type of hypercorrection, and specifically a hyperforeignism: even though a final S in English words is pronounced, Rodgers believes he is pronouncing the name more correctly by omitting it, when in fact he is not. He almost certainly does so because the French name Louis has a silent S, but final consonants are not silent in Spanish, nor are they in most languages. The correct pronunciation would be LWEES, as a single syllable, but since this is hard to pronounce for an English speaker, an acceptable compromise would be lu-WEESS.

The letter J

Let us look specifically at the subject of this post, the letter J, which is pronounced in a variety of ways in different European languages.

(Since these posts are aimed at non-linguists, I have avoided using phonetic symbols and have written pronunciations in such a way that they can be read as if they were English words. Caps are used to denote the stressed syllable.)

Germanic languages except English (German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic)

The Germanic languages (except English) pronounce the J like the English letter Y. Examples:

  • Jan Ullrich (German)
  • Luuk de Jong (Dutch)
  • Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen (Icelandic)

French and Portuguese

French and Portuguese use a sound that does not exist in native English words, but with which most English speakers are familiar. It is the same sound that occurs in the expression déjà vu. Examples:

  • Jean Alesi (French)
  • José Mourinho (Portuguese)


Mispronunciations of a Catalan J are invariably a hyperforeignism, since the letter is pronounced the same as in most English words (e.g. in the word jam).

Sometimes commentators wrongly pronounce it like the J found in other Germanic languages (i.e. a Y sound). For example, during the playing days of Jordi Cruyff, who was given a Catalan first name by his parents (his father Johan was a Barça player at the time), the British media usually pronounced his first name as YOR-di. Perhaps commentators assumed his first name was Dutch, but other Catalan names with a J are also mispronounced as a Y, such as Jordi Alba.

Other times they pronounce it like the Spanish J (see below). Here’s a clip of Stephen Fry in flagrante delicto pronouncing the Catalan word menja as MEN-ha, as if it were a Spanish word, when the correct pronunciation is simply MEN-ja.


For the nitpickers, Spanish pronounces the J like the “ch” in the Scottish word loch. But apart from this word the sound doesn’t exist in English, so to simplify matters let’s say that it is pronounced as a H, which is an acceptable alternative for the native English speaker. (Spanish speakers themselves approximate the English H sound, which doesn’t exist in Spanish, like the Spanish letter J.)

An Anglicised pronunciation of the Spanish name Jorge would therefore be HOR-hay. This pronunciation of the letter J (and the letter G if followed by an E or an I) is unique to Spanish, and should not be used for names in other languages, including Catalan.

Spanish, Portuguese or Catalan?

The spellings of Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan names are often very similar or identical (José is written the same in Portuguese and Spanish), so commentators should make sure they know whether athletes have a Spanish, Portuguese or Catalan name so they can pronounce it correctly.

Common Spanish names containing a J pronounced as a H sound: Alejandro, Alejandra, Jaime, Javier, Javiera, Jerónimo, Joaquín, Jorge, José, Josefina, Joel, Juan, Julia, Juliana, Julio.

Common Catalan names containing a J pronounced like an English J: Jaume, Jeroni, Jordi, Joaquim, Josep, Joel, Joan, Júlia.

Common Portuguese names containing a J pronounced like a French J: Jaime, Jerónimo, Jerônimo, João, Joaquim, Jorge, Josefina, Júlia, Júlio.


Finally, Juventus is a special case. In Italian, the letter J is only used in words borrowed from foreign langauges. Otherwise, the J sound (as in jam) is always represented by the letter G (Genova) or by the combination “GI” (Giuseppe). The name of the Turin-based club is derived from the Latin iuventus, meaning youth, and is pronounced yu-VEN-tus.