Language Matters June 2006: The World Cup in Germany

Language Matters Newsletter 7 – June 2006

The World Cup in Germany


Dear soccer fan!

We are back with our Newsletter. Welcome to our June issue on the WHAT, WHY, HOW and WHERE of languages. You can read about WHAT Canadian immigrants think of the World Cup, WHY SOCCER is the best game in the world, HOW to quickly learn basic German phrases for your travels and WHERE to learn and practice your German.

Lenka de Graafova, Managing Director. Thanks for reading.


It cannot be missed. It surrounds us, it pulls us out of bed at the crack of dawn. It is the center of discussion at any social or business event. It is hot on Google. It is hot on TV. Yes, you know what I’m talking about – the World Cup!

Most likely, during your web search for gift ideas, travel destinations or shopping you will see pop-ups showing the latest scores. You will be prompted to see videos of the best goals, to download football action, to change your browser’s field or wear T-shirts with national colors to show support for your favorite team.

I was interested to see how the World Cup was perceived by people of various nationalities and speakers of different languages. This interest was fuelled by the fact that the male members of my family make me get up every day, long before 6 am, in time for the kick-off, in order to watch or at least recognize the presence of ball-kicking men on TV. Watching my (Czech) national team win or lose is an absolute must and there are no excuses for not sticking my face close to the TV screen.

To find out if any other people have become victim to the World Cup Bug & Fever, either by choice or by force, I conducted a little survey, asking friends and colleagues of various cultural backgrounds about what the World Cup means to them and how their everyday lives have been affected. I received numerous interesting responses:

  • Canadian: “It is an opportunity to watch people from all over the world come together and represent their countries.”
  • German: “As a German I am happy to see the World Cup and the well playing German team lifting up the mood of the whole country.”
  • German: “First thing that comes to my mind when I hear the word “balls” is of course the Football World Cup.”
  • Mexican: “For Mexicans, SOCCER is life, it’s all that truly matters. It’s what people pray for and live for. It’s passion, pressure and pleasure. The World Cup is the perfect excuse to make our dreams come true and gather in one place – the best of the best from all over the world.”
  • American: “World cup! It is a cup which all countries get to drink from, it is true inspiration and simply fun.”
  • Bulgarian: “World Cup is a significant event, but I am totally desinterested in it.”
  • French: “I think it’s a great opportunity to bring the people together in a world class event. A little bit of “rivalry” does not hurt (in a friendly way…) and it is a chance to see great games from countries that are not necessarily the “big” contenders. This is part of globalization and multiculturalism too here at home in Canada!!! Go Go les Bleus…”
  • Turkish: “It’s very disappointing that this time Turkey couldn’t make it to games. However, it is still a lot of fun to watch this soccer carnival.”
  • English: “The World Cup to me means a chance to hope an impossible hope, dream an impossible dream and then live a familiar nightmare of a glorious yet unjust exit against a better team. All I can guarantee is my heart will be trampled on, but I’ll come back for more of the same in another four years.”


Football has its own lingo. Besides the variations of the British and American English names for the game, football and soccer, hard-core football fans will use terms that are not to be found in any dictionaries.

  • A screamer – a hard shot from a long way out
  • Run the channels – a striker who makes runs behind the defensive line
  • Early bath – what awaits a player who is sent off
  • Have a dig – try a shot
  • Professional foul – a cynical foul on an opponent who was threatening the goal
  • Flip flap – a special trick made famous by Ronaldinho

Lastly, a small note on the World Cup match atmosphere, written by an enthusiastic fan currently reporting from Germany!

“The match is deep into extra time, the score is level and the fans want their team to score. Nobody wants the Russian Roulette of the heart stopping penalty shootout. Suddenly a striker is cynically brought down; a professional foul. The referee flashes a red card and it’s an early bath for the guilty defender. The attacking star lines up the free kick from fully 30 yards. He expertly bends it around the wall into the top corner. Agony and ecstasy, shame and glory all summed up in 30 seconds of heart pounding action. One set of fans explode with joy, the other hold heads in hands. Post match the great German beer will flow. It will be a long night for both set of fans for vastly different reasons.”


Statistics show that there are about 187,410 Germans living in Vancouver. They have either immigrated here and established businesses, or found employment, or they come here on a Working Holiday Visa to get to know Canada. If you are interested in learning German or improving your existing knowledge, check out the active German community that organizes various events around the City. I’ve met a few of them and they’re really friendly and helpful when it comes to brushing up your German. You might want to take your language skills beyond the knowledge of Bratwurst and Sauerkraut!

Upcoming German Events

  • 20 JAHRE “DEUTSCHER PLATZ” Start: Sun, 01/10/2006 – 14:00, 29th Avenue und Atlin Street
  • Laternenfest 2006, German Traditions and Rituals, Start: Fri, 10/11/2006 – 06:30


To get a feel of real-life German, check out our language course in Vancouver! It’s fun but you will learn serious stuff.

Our German language course: All levels are welcome. Classes of 3-7 students are taught by professional teachers. These 2-hour language sessions take place once or twice a week in Vancouver, Burnaby or, alternatively at your office. Other language courses and individual tutoring can be arranged upon request.

  • Course fees (excluding GST): $ 350 (20 lessons; 2 hours/week)
  • To know more about our languages courses, go on our website.