20 May 2012

European Champions!

For a lifelong Chelsea supporter such as me, last night was a bit special. It's not just that we finally won the thing; it was the way we won it.

For goodness sakes: Bayern had twenty corners, and they scored from none of them; but Chelsea had one single corner in the whole game, and Drogba went and scored from it. And then Bayern missed a penalty, they had so many chances with an open goal, there was a disallowed goal for off-side, and they were even up in the final penalty shoot out! ... what can you say?

At the end of the game, I called my son in England and just lay on the floor laughing. My wife says she hasn't heard me laugh so much for years.

From a linguistic perspective: I always find football commentary fascinating, and I feel sorry for English learners from around the world who are trying to make any sense of it. Just think about some of the things the commentators say — not all from last night, but pretty typical for football commentary:

  • they're really under the cosh now
  • Drogba was on his bike there
  • Ribery is looking to pick up the bits and pieces
  • Robben was lucky to get a second bite there

I really pity all those students of English who look up cosh in a dictionary and still have no clue what on earth is going on. I just looked it up in the Macmillan Dictionary, and it means "a weapon shaped like a short thick stick". Well, that helps!

And what is anyone doing on a bike while playing football? But that is the wonder of language — none of it really makes any sense. It's just what we say. Especially in football commentaries.