Ode to the language of football, an idiom more universal than Esperanto

More than one hundred and thirty years ago, a language was invented that became what English is today to Americans, Britons, and the multitude of people who have learned it: a universal language.

At the end of the 19th centurye century, Jewish ophthalmologist Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof, who lived in the Russian Empire, in what is now Poland, developed the world’s only completely artificial language, Esperanto. Zamenhof came from a region where Poles, Germans, Russians and Jews did not exactly live in harmony. And their linguistic differences highlighted their cultural differences.

Zamenhof therefore wanted to create an international language, which he called “Esperanto,” and whose words would be free of chauvinism. According to the optimistic estimates cited by The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, by David Crystal, Esperanto today has at most 15 million speakers on the planet, too few for a universal language. But what would have happened if football had already conquered the world in 1887 and if Doctor Esperanto had been a football fan?

He could simply have used a language, used in 10,000 different languages ​​and hundreds of thousands of dialects, which always revolves around the same central ideas: free kick, penalty, foul, offside, header, goal – to name just a few.

“Boall! Boall! Boall!”

New expressions regularly appear in the “footballoranto”. The fact remains that there is no term, however complicated, that football fans cannot explain with their hands and feet, as is fitting for a universal language.

Here, a memory: at the end of the 1980s, a group of students took a trip to Prague, while Czechoslovakia was still under the influence of the Soviet Union. As soon as he arrives, one of the students buys a soccer ball. When the news gets around the group, the vast majority want to play on the lawn next to the hotel.

As soon as the ball enters the goal, cobbled together from metal bars, several men – originally from North Vietnam, as we learn later – throw themselves against the fence that encloses the field and, like the mad chorus of an ancient tragedy, repeat one and the same word: “Boall! Boall! Boall!” In other words, in the language of Shakespeare: “Ball!” Translation: we saw that you play football. Say, please, can we play with you? The answer is not long in coming: “Yes!”

The most democratic of sports

Those who say that this sports gene, which works beyond all linguistic and national borders, will have the same effect with a basketball or handball, or even a tennis ball are right. Except that basketball hoops are not common. That playing handball requires a minimum of know-how. And that two teams of 11 players who

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