There have been a lot of – mostly – young – mostly – men on the web lately, all making the same point very loudly: it’s called “football”, in this country, yanks, not “soccer” (the real wastes of time will spell it “sawker” or some such at this point).
And then there was his use of the “s” word: “soccer” this, “soccer” that. David, pet: we both know that’s not proper English, ain’ it? We both know you only said “soccer” to please the Yanks.
(Incidentally, I’m cherrypicking – the rest of Dave’s article is excellent).
There are plenty more examples where those came from should you really want to see some.
Two assumptions run through all of this, often at the same time.
- It is in some way annoying or insulting that “soccer” is the coinage in the US, so much so that that annoyance or insult demands expression.
- Those who will admit that “soccer” is a word of English origin will usually get around that by claiming that a group of people who can be written off as “toffs” came up with it, and that it fell into disuse before the World Wars.
In actual fact, the word has fallen into relative disuse in England, but only very recently. And the evidence is that it was, until recently, a “down-to-earth” “working class” word (I’m grinding my teeth here: can you tell?).
What’s worse for my army of young men is that the word is in common international use, and not just in the US.
Let’s start with some football annuals. All of the following are entirely British:
Charles Buchan’s Soccer Gift Book 1955-6:
Oh, Charlie: how could you use such non-English English? Surely lovely, plummy Ken Wolstenholme will put you right, ten years later? Or perhaps not…
“The Sun”‘s a patriotic, working class paper. They’ll sort it out, come the ’70s. Won’t they? Oh…
Well, the England captain will show Becks up for what Dave Hill took him for (or, to be fair, didn’t). Or else he won’t.
Didn’t it all die out in the ’80s, though?
But those are just annuals. Proper soccer mags used “football” didn’t they?
It’s actually harder to find one with “football” in the title, to tell you the truth. They must have all been closet yanks; it’s the only plausible explanation:
I hate to tell you this, but even the FA are at it:
And the leading scholarly historical football journal? Say it ain’t so, to coin a phrase..
And we haven’t even got to abroad yet!
The French guard their language with an intensity we can only wonder at, but what’s this? Quelle horreur, army of young men.
But I’m sure my army of young men will want to raise an arm for the Germans, who are going through an insanely-anti-American phase at present.
But you can always join the neckless skinhead crowds in Spain and call it football there if you want to.
But, failing that, surely there’s Italy, unless you are going to be insulted by their calling it “Calcio”, which you really ought to be just for the sake of consistency.
Of course, the ancient rumour is that an Oxford student, Charles Wreford Brown, coined “soccer” from a contraction of “Association Football” to mimic the contraction of “Rugger” from “Rugby Football”, but in the eyes of my army of young men, Oxford students are untermensch, so perhaps they’d prefer Duncan Edwards: