Say What?! Tower of Babel descends upon World Cup

Posted: December 10, 2010 in Say What?!

Most of us have a difficult enough time with just one language. Multiply that by 17, and the World Cup is one big tongue twister!

By Kim DeRaedt

With at least 17 languages spoken by the 32 teams at the 2010 World Cup, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” was nothing compared to the tongue twisters and language hurdles that had to be conquered by FIFA, the media, and various staff in South Africa.  Some passed with flying colors.  Others stood out like a giraffe among the vertically-challenged Japanese team.

First is the worst
FIFA takes the cake for the worst World Cup faux pas.  It truly was a like a whole different language when FIFA provided the Slovenian team with Slovak interpretation services for a press conference.   The Independent reported that “the Slovenes have a slight complex about that commonly repeated error and it did not help that Slovakia – who don’t get the same insult – are at the tournament too.”

Who you calling stupid?
“Kaiser Chief is so stupid-Defoe blasts Franz insult”
“HERR DRYER! – German legend Beckenbauer in a new rant against ‘stupid’ England”
The newspapers were quick to jump at German legend Franz Beckenbauer whom essentially said, “Stupidly, the English have slipped up a little.” 

Newsflash:  Too bad “dummerweise” doesn’t mean as its spelling appears.  Anyone competent in German would know that the word translates into “it’s a pity.”  Beckenbauer actually said, “It’s a pity the English flunked a bit by coming second in their group.”  So angry Britons, lower your weapons:  Beckenbauer comes in peace.

Finders Keepers
Want a souvenir from the World Cup?  How about this well-spelled but quite perplexing t-shirt?




F** It
That’s “Fix it”.  Count the asterisks next time for all of you Frenchmen out there.  The New York Times revealed that referees were expanding their vocabularies by learning curse words so that they could send the potty mouths packing during last summer’s competition.  Oh, how we always have our priorities in line!

Lighten up
Geez, Maradona!  It was a simple question.  What did you think he meant?  Get your mind out of the gutter!

Humor aside, obviously there are some serious language issues.  Good thing Socceranto came to the rescue.  The ingenious (?) idea prior to the 2006 World Cup attempted to bring the “one world’s, one game” together under one language.  The fan-inspired dictionary/phrasebook pulls from English, Spanish, Italian, German, French, and Portuguese and crafts words based upon names of legendary players, soccer terminology, and newfound expressions as well.  Ever heard of “maradona” or “rono”?  Check out their Socceranto definitions below.

maradona: n. a goal scored with illegal use of the hand. [Derivation: Diego Maradona who scored for Argentina against England in the 1986 World Cup by using his hand.]

rono – n. a (non-Brazilian) player of Brazilian flair or skill; an honorary Brazilian.
[Derivation: Names of Brazil stars, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo.]

For anyone looking to become bilingual, trilingual, or whatever your next step may be, you can brush up on all of your Socceranto vocabulary with this free download.

Don’t try this at home
One final note.  The Japanese video game “Boy’s Soccer Team 5” might not be the greatest stocking stuffer this holiday season.  Something tells me that with these non-native translation blunders, FIFA 2011 may be slightly more exciting for gaming enthusiasts. 

Word Worms:
The above information and many more translation boo-boos can be found at:
The New York Times, as always, showcasing the best side of soccer:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s