soccer usages

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Thu Oct 24 21:09:48 UTC 2002

Kathleen E. Miller said:
>At 12:40 PM 10/24/02 -0400, you wrote:
>>A goal is something that you are trying to attain.  You don't
>>guard your own goal.  Your goalie stands in front of the other team's goal.
>This is semantically interesting, I think. I'm not sure if I am missing the
>original point. But common usage seems to sway the exact opposite
>direction. Just to make sure I wasn't "misunderstanding" I asked one of our
>editors at the magazine who used to edit the sports page (And has written a
>book titled "The Death of Hockey") and this is what he had to say. Calling
>me on many things but backing me up on the "our goal" thing.
>"First off, "goalie" is really hockey only ("goaler", if you're a Canadian
>of 60 or older, is also acceptable). It really has to be "goalkeeper" or
>"keeper" if you're talking about soccer, even if you're an American,
>although if you say "goalie" you're not wrong. But the first choice, and
>the term that should appear more often, should always be "goalkeeper" or
>Next, you would ask not "Who's on goal" but "Who's IN goal." Right? That's
>just a typo in the original message, no? And the person in goal for your
>team, or in the nets for your team, is your goalkeeper. He or she is
>standing inside YOUR goal. I don't know where this basketball thing is
>coming from, but there are no two sports more diametrically opposed in
>philosophy than basketball and socccer, unless it's basketball and hockey.
>So a good rule of thumb is if some principle applies in basketball, it most
>certainly does NOT apply in soccer.

Well, it's obvious that this wasn't written by a linguist! It's long
been clear to me that hockey, basketball, soccer, and, for all I
know, lacrosse and a bunch of other games all have the same "deep
structure". There are a few basic parameters that have to be set (the
length of a game, the surface you play on, the number of players on a
team, and the relative size of goal and ball) and the more obvious
differences, notably the relative difficulty of scoring a point (from
which follows a typical final score) follow from the settings of
these more abstract paramaters.

Alice Faber                                             faber at
Haskins Laboratories                                  tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                                     fax (203) 865-8963

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