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Reading: From National to Global Obsession: Football and Football English in the Superdiverse 21st Ce...

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From National to Global Obsession: Football and Football English in the Superdiverse 21st Century

Authors:

Gunnar Bergh ,

University of Gothenburg, SE
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Sölve Ohlander

University of Gothenburg, SE
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Abstract

Today’s football enjoys an unprecedented global status, as the world’s favourite sport as well as a mass cultural phenomenon. To a significant degree, it transcends national, social and cultural boundaries. European top teams are characterized by a striking ethnic and linguistic diversity; Manchester United fans may be found across the globe. Today’s football can thus be seen as a special example of ‘superdiversity,’ a notion introduced following far-reaching changes in migration patterns since the 1990s, in Britain and elsewhere. Its emergence coincided with a vastly increased media coverage of football worldwide, in turn contributing to greatly increased use of football language, on television and the internet. Football language—involving communication at various levels among players, spectators, fans and commentators—represents a conceptual sphere shared by the (‘imagined’) global community of all those who take an interest in the ‘people’s game.’ Consequently, due to football’s present-day status, millions of people across the globe are also familiar with football language. Sociolinguistically, it makes up a special part of a person’s linguistic repertoire, independently of more conventional sociolinguistic variables. Against this background, we argue that today’s football and football language—especially football English as a register of Global English—may serve as a communicative link across barriers related to nationality, culture and language. In this regard, certain parallels are noted between the early social history of British football and the potential of today’s football and football English to promote integration and a sense of identity in superdiverse societies, not least by providing opportunities for communicative interaction.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.627
How to Cite: Bergh, G. and Ohlander, S., 2020. From National to Global Obsession: Football and Football English in the Superdiverse 21st Century. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 19(5), pp.359–383. DOI: http://doi.org/10.35360/njes.627
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Published on 19 Dec 2020.
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