Football vs. Soccer II.

We actually covered this issue last year, but Steve Hendricks (who “watches Manchester City and FC Barcelona from Boulder, Colorado”) has written such an enjoyable piece about it, full of both footnotes and jokes, that I can’t resist posting it. A sample of his style:

I should explain that it turned up at Oxford, not Old Hall, because although it was first printed in The Oldhallian, it was penned at Oxford. The penner was an anonymous Old Hall alumnus (who, were there any justice in the world, would be called an Old Oldhallian but instead is a mere Old Hallian, or so say the killjoys at the school) who had alighted at Exeter College, Oxford, and was sending back dispatches on university doings to his old schoolmates. In his letter of December 1885, after wishing Old Hallians who had gone to Cambridge “every success notwithstanding their bad choice”, he reported that the ’Varsity lost to Aston Villa in what “was pre-eminently the most important ‘Socker’ game played in Oxford this term”—a phrase remarkable not only for the first use of soccer but for the last use, so far as scholars of the field have determined, of preeminently important to describe a game played at Oxford.

He ends with an offer to return “soccer” to the Brits when they decide they want it back “as freely as a Tom Cruise blockbuster”; “In return we ask only that, next time, you send a single Agüero instead of two Wright-Phillipses.”

Comments

  1. What does he mean, “freely”? The makers of Tom Cruise blockbusters make them pay through the nose for it!

    In any case, if Americans had invented the word they would never have spelled it with a silent r, though as with Burma, Sadé, etc., they now pronounce the /r/.

  2. I ranted about the Sade issue here not long ago. Though even if Americans had invented the term on their own, I think it’s still likely that they might have picked “soccer” over “socca”.

  3. I doubt it would have been either: more likely we’d write it assoc and pronouncing it /əˈsoʊʃ/.

  4. “So, the cowardly swine are frightened of El Heneral Aston Villa!”

    The Goons, “Foiled by President Fred”

  5. “Since at least the 18th century, some Britons had been calling a potato a tater and a pinafore a pinner.” — author hasn’t allowed for r-dropping

    “the pinny that soccer players put on over their game shirts when warming up” — always called this a bib, ir is there a difference? It’s a type of garment that’s not important enough to enough people for a standard name to emerge quickly.

    “what would drive a fellow to lift the soc from Association and change its sound from /sohsh/ to /sock/ before adding the er. ” — the social secretary of college clubs was the Soc Sec, pronounced as spelt.

  6. “Since at least the 18th century, some Britons had been calling a potato a tater and a pinafore a pinner.” — author hasn’t allowed for r-dropping

    Not sure what you mean; the r is dropped equally in “tater” and “soccer.”

  7. Sorry, I overcompressed my point, which was that /ˈpɪnəfɔr/->/ˈpɪnə/ and /pəˈteɪtə/*–>/ˈteɪtə/ are better analysed as simple clippings of 3 to 2 syllables, rather than as clippings of 3 to 1 syllable followed by addition of -er. Therefore the putative antedating of the -er suffix is unconvincing.

    *Of course /pəˈteɪtə/ rather than /pəˈteɪtoʊ/ is nonstandard, but no more than /ˈteɪtə/

  8. J. W. Brewer says:

    As it happens I just realized the other day that a lyric from a song I’ve been listening to for 30+ years is rather less surreal (and less interesting) if understood in a BrEng sense rather than an AmEng sense, with my own hearing of the text perhaps having failed to take conscious account of the relevant fact that the songwriter and performers are all Brits. The lines are “And all the world is football-shaped / It’s just for me to kick in space,” from “Senses Working Overtime,” performed by XTC and written by its Andy Partridge. (In a later verse the world is “biscuit-shaped,” which may also be more boring given the BrEng sense of “biscuit.”)

  9. I doubt it would have been either: more likely we’d write it assoc and pronouncing it /əˈsoʊʃ/.

    You’d probably be calling it “American Football” and the other one “Ruggsby” (in the face of European objections that it should clearly be called “Hander”).

  10. J. W. Brewer says:

    NB also that the rival teen factions in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders (set in the early/mid-60’s in Oklahoma, sez wiki) are the Greasers and the Socs, and the latter is not pronounced “socks” but /soʊˈʃəz/.

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