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All is not English that glitters: False Anglicisms in the Spanish Language of Sports/No es ingles todo lo que reluce: falsos anglicismos en el espanol del deporte.


It is almost universally recognised that English has become an international lingua franca, used for worldwide communication, mainly among non-native speakers. This has had an impact on those speakers' native languages, which have incorporated an extensive list of English vocabulary (and also from syntax and morphology). This latter phenomenon, known as borrowing, has reached unprecedented levels due to information and communication technologies and the Internet, and is particularly visible in the vocabulary of sports in different languages. In general, English words may enter another language in at least two ways: either in their original form (e.g., club in French or Spanish) or after some kind of morphological, orthographic and/or phonetic adaptation (e.g., chutar in Spanish, from "to shoot").

Given the variety of phenomena underlying language borrowing, in order to study false Anglicisms, it might be worth clarifying what is meant by the terms Anglicism and false Anglicism. In the case of Spanish, scholars have provided several definitions of Anglicism, which can at times be vague, such as Moliner's (1998, s.v. anglicismo) "palabra o expresion inglesa usada en otra lengua" ["English word or expression used in another language"], but also very specific, such as Pratt's "un elemento linguistico, o grupo de los mismos, que se emplea en ... castellano ... contemporaneo y que tiene como etimo inmediato un modelo ingles" ["a linguistic item or group of items used in ... contemporary ... Spanish, whose immediate etymon is an English model"] (1980, 115). The most authoritative reference for the Spanish language, the Diccionario de la Real Academia Espanola (henceforth, DRAE) reads as follows: "i. Giro o modo de hablar propio de la lengua inglesa. 2. Vocablo o giro de esta lengua empleado en otra. 3. Empleo de vocablos o giros ingleses en distintos idiomas" (s.v. anglicismo) ["i. Expression or way of speaking typical of the English language. 2. Word or expression of this language used in another language. 3. Use of English words or expressions in other languages"]. As one can see, this latter definition includes not only direct and indirect influences from English but also semantic, phonological and syntactic features proper to English that affect the Spanish language. Some definitions go even further, and include words for which English has been "a mediator": according to Lopez Morales (1987, 303), Anglicisms are "no solo palabras que proceden del ingles, independientemente de que sean ya generales en el espanol y de que hayan sido aceptadas por la Academia, sino tambien aquellas que proceden de otras lenguas, pero que han entrado al espanol a traves del ingles" ["not only words whose origin is English, regardless of whether they have become generalised in Spanish and have been accepted by its Academy, but also words from other languages which have entered Spanish through English"].

Although reasons of space preclude us from discussing at length the scholarly attention that the use of English vocabulary in Spanish deserves, mention must be made of: (i) synchronic studies like those by Gomez Torrego (1995), Lorenzo (1996), Medina Lopez (1996), Pratt (1980) and Rodriguez Gonzalez (1996, 2012); (ii) diachronic studies like Rodriguez Segura (1999), and (iii) those on the use of Anglicisms in specialised or professional languages such as Alcaraz Ariza (2000), Alejo (2004), Alzugaray Aguirre (1982), Balteiro (2009), Campos (2011), Gerding Salas, Fuentes Morrison and Kotz Grabole (2012), and Rodriguez Gonzalez (2012). Also excluded from this current work are considerations regarding whether Anglicisms should, or should not, be accepted in a language. In general, we would like to take a descriptive stand, whereby one may observe that there are a number of factors explaining the adoption and use of Anglicisms, such as the trend-setting nature of English, the need (at times) for a new word in the recipient language, language economy (English being as a rule more concise and brief than many European languages), prestige, the desire to show greater expertise in a given area, and probably an attempt to facilitate international communication by using words belonging to what is felt to be a lingua franca--on this, see, for example, Bolanos-Medina and Lujan-Garcia (2010, 245-249), Duran Martinez (2002), Lorenzo (1996), Medina Lopez (1996) and Rodriguez Segura (1999, 17).

However, a look at some of the reasons for the use of Anglicisms might also explain other phenomena, such as a language developing its own lexical stock in the fashion of a foreign one. Indeed, if a language is ready to use an English word because of prestige, conciseness or a desire to put on an appearance of expertness, or in other words, if it is willing to resort to "imported goods," it might also feel inclined to "copy" or "imitate" the English language. This may be the case of the so-called "false Anglicisms," whose success causes them not only to be accepted as if they were genuine items, but even to be re-exported into other languages, which welcome them because of their apparent English origin. This phenomenon, which has often been described as a result of language contact, though is probably more related in some cases to prestige or other psychological reasons than to linguistic ones, will be presented in the following section.


While, as has been seen above, Anglicisms have been widely dealt with in the literature, fully-fledged studies on false Anglicisms are quite recent. Furiassi defines false Anglicisms as "autonomous coinages which resemble English words but do not exist in English, or ... unadapted borrowings from English which originated from English words but that are not encountered in English dictionaries, whether as entries or as sub-entries" (2003, 123). A false Anglicism or "pseudoanglicism"--for discussions of the various labels and definitions, see Furiassi (2010, 19-20), Onysko (2007, 52), Campos (2011, 83) and Winter-Froemel (2011, 44)--may be a word apparently of English origin but actually created elsewhere--e.g., Spanish footing, a word created in French, vs. English jogging (on mediating languages see Rodriguez Gonzalez 2002, 134). But a false Anglicism can also be a word which is originally English, but may have undergone changes in the recipient language (in terms of meaning or form) in such a way that it might even not be recognizable by a native English speaker (e.g., Spanish false Anglicism boogies for what is known in English as crepe-soled shoes or brothel creepers). In fact, the concept of 'autonomous coinages' as used in Furiassi's definition may be interpreted quite loosely, since (i) it covers both signifier and signified, i.e., it includes semantic shifts where the form remains the same (crack, which is used in Spanish for "financial crises," i.e., "crash"), or partial deletion of parts of previously existing compounds (e.g., smoking, from a now outdated smoking jacket in English), but also (2) many of the false Anglicisms are coined (or modified) in one language and then spread into others.

In fact, not all false Anglicisms are so alien to the English language: in fact, Furiassi remarks that "although it is certainly true that false Anglicisms are not used by native speakers of English, this fact does not necessarily mean that at least some of them would not be understood, with a variable degree of cognitive effort (e.g., antidoping vs. dope test)" (2003, 121). Spence and Campos have also pointed out that "different meaning" (from English) may be at times an unreliable criterion, for a start, because meaning is a slippery concept not always fully captured by dictionaries, but also because some of these words may have been borrowed from very specialised areas in English (which hence makes them genuine Anglicisms) and thus their meaning is not known by the average native speaker (Spence 1987, 169; Campos 2011, 85). It may even occur that an alleged false Anglicism suddenly appears in English with the same meaning as in the other languages, which puzzles lexicographers, since the word may have been re-borrowed by English (Furiassi 2010, 70; Campos 2011, 92), but might also have changed by itself through no foreign influence. This phenomenon can also be found in other languages: an instance of this is kimono, whose present meaning in Japanese has changed after being re-imported from English. Another example is outlet, whose meaning "shop offering goods at highly reduced prices," as found in Spanish or Italian, may be found in present-day English, although this could be due either to re-borrowing of the "foreign" meaning or simply to shortening of the full form outlet mall. The same could apply to volley in English, which could either have been re-borrowed from the many languages where it functions as a short alternative for "volleyball," or also have evolved by itself in English. In the case of sports, it is precisely their international nature that might encourage both the spread of Anglicisms and, paradoxically, the importing of such false Anglicisms into English. For instance, in March 2015 Manchester City's coach Manuel Pellegrini repeatedly asked his club owners to sign a crack (used as a noun in Spanish meaning "a crack player"), and this was widely reproduced by the media; this could very well help towards crack adopting the new meaning, either through ellipsis or through re-borrowing.

Concerning the classification of false Anglicisms according to their origin, to date it seems that the best detailed typology is that devised by Furiassi (2010, 38-52), who classifies them as autonomous compounds (recordman), autonomous derivatives (footing), compound ellipses (smoking), clippings (relax), semantic shifts (mister), eponyms (pullman), toponyms and generic trademarks. Nevertheless, for our purposes, and in order to avoid excessive subcategorization, the false Anglicisms in the Spanish language of sports (as studied in this paper) will be divided into five categories: autonomous creations (which would include both compounds and derivatives), abbreviations (including both ellipses and clippings), morphological changes, semantic shifts (which include eponyms and toponyms) and hybrid formations.

As may be seen, to the "traditional" categories (Furiassi 2003 and 2010) we have decided to add hybrid formations, also called "loanblends," such as web cafe, which are either not mentioned in the literature as false Anglicisms, or explicitly discarded (Furiassi 2010, 40). However, as will be mentioned in the discussion section, an excessively narrow approach would also exclude many of the "traditional" false Anglicisms, such as footing, from any language other than French, if it was argued that in all other languages footing is not an Anglicism (false or genuine), but a Gallicism. We have decided to consider all of these Anglicisms because it is their apparent "Englishness" that favours their expansion, and such a criterion applies to this "additional" category of hybrid formations. These may be compounds or two-word phrases, such as top manta (the humorous name given to the street sale of illegal copies of CDs and DVDs, which are placed on a blanket or manta), or derivations where the base form is a native item and the suffix is an English one cueling (from colarse--entering the underground without paying by jumping over the barriers).

As we have noted elsewhere (Campos 2011), one of the most interesting features of false Anglicisms is their occurrence in a number of languages, often with French being the common origin or mediator. This is best exemplified again by footing, probably one of the most widely known false Anglicisms, which was created in French and then exported into Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, amongst other languages. However, as noted elsewhere (Balteiro and Campos 2012), this has not always been recognised by the literature, which tends to analyse them separately (i.e., each study tends to concentrate on only one receiving language). Note that even the famous Dictionary of European Anglicisms (Gorlach 2001) sometimes fails to mention the fact that an item might have been transmitted via an intermediate language. This may have its implications for the delimitation of elements and their typology, since the same word may be considered a "true" Anglicism in one language by one scholar and, simultaneously, a false Anglicism in another language by others. For example, Furiassi remarks that nightclubbing and infotainment (2010, 87), which are considered false Anglicisms by some Italian dictionaries, are perfectly documented in English--according to the Oxford English Dictionary (henceforth OED), nightclubbing is recorded as early as 1925, or infotainment in 1980. As for sports, the cases of center-back and down period, amongst others (which will be discussed below) are further examples of the difficulties in the identification of false Anglicisms. Of course, the opposite process may also be found, with many bilingual dictionaries dealing with false Anglicisms as if they were true English words. See, for instance, the case of the Spanish holding, quoted by Balteiro (2011a), who has reported lexicographical tools wrongly listing it in English with the Spanish meaning of "holding company."

In the field of sports, this is also the case with the Spanish expression gol average (see below), which according to the Oxford Spanish Dictionary (henceforth OSD) means the same as "goal average" in English (in Spanish, though, it is used with the meaning of "goal difference"). Obviously, this could also be due to the fact that lexicographers are always trying to catch up with usage, and some uses may not have reached the OSD yet, but are present in some bilingual dictionaries more in contact with authentic specialised usage. As a result, extreme caution must be exercised when considering a word a false Anglicism; in other words, the bilingual lexicographer who seems to have made a mistake may be later hailed as the first to locate a genuine usage of a word in English.


Historically, the expansion of sports at an international level has coincided with a period (from the twentieth century onwards) in which English has become the lingua franca par excellence, which means that international federations, major international events and their media coverage almost always use English in order to overcome language differences. As Balteiro has pointed out (2011b), most of the prestigious news agencies reporting sports events, such as Associated Press, Reuters and United Press International, are from English-speaking countries or use English as their only language (Asia News Network in Thailand, Media Line in the Lebanon), or as one of their working languages (most of the other major agencies, such as France Presse, EFE and Interfax). As is the case with the transmission of loanwords having to do with culture or science, the fact that a given referent comes from a specific country or culture causes the receiving language to borrow the terminology as well, and many sports were born or popularised in English-speaking countries, for example, rugby, hockey, volleyball, cricket, football and basketball.

As a result of all this, it is only logical that most of the loanwords in the Spanish language of sports should come from English, with various degrees of adaptation, from direct borrowing (rugby) to visible morphological, spelling or phonological adaptations (futbol), or even coexisting outcomes for the same source item, as in the case of the English word volleyball, for which a number of different Spanish-speaking countries have come up with voleibol or voleibol, but also spelling adaptations such as volleyball, volleiball, or even clippings like voley or volley (the latter also used in English). Given this situation, the Spanish Academy, who were quite reluctant to accept Anglicisms in the twentieth century, attempted to provide alternative solutions: some of them have generally succeeded, such as baloncesto ["basketball"], whereas in other cases the "naturalised" proposal has had little success (as in the case of failed attempts like balompie instead offutbol, or balonvolea for voleibol). In the latter cases, the Real Academia has decided to include such Anglicisms in its editions of the DRAE, which sometimes reflect the coexistence we mentioned earlier (baseball, beisbol).

When analysing the changing fortunes of Anglicisms versus native lexical material, the controversy always arises as to why a speaker of a language would prefer to use the English word instead of the one available in his or her language. This is one of the reasons why false Anglicisms are particularly interesting: if the word was genuinely English, we might understand that its usage may be due to immediacy, careless translation, frequent exposure to English, etc. Nevertheless, the false Anglicism does not triumph because of translation or foreign exposure, since often there is no "authentic" English source from which the recipient language has copied its material. The reasons for the use of false Anglicisms are purely the attractiveness and prestige of the English language, due to its connotations of power, fashion, technology, etc., which make speakers "imitate" English models through autonomous creations, modification of existing English material, or the adoption of English-like lexis coming from other languages. For instance, in the case of sports, it could be said that, if Spanish sports commentators use voleibol instead of balonvolea, it may be due not to the prestige of English, but to the pressure of the use of volleyball by international federations and the media. However, if Spanish uses a word like recordman or recordwoman, this usage cannot be attributed to the influence of English terminology, since the original item is record holder. Although the weight of the mediating language may not be completely disregarded, the popularization of these lexical items may not be due to the fact that they sound English (which they are not), but to an alleged English origin, which is probably what makes them so attractive.


4.1. Methodology and objectives

In this study, we have collected a sample of false Anglicisms in the Spanish language of sports from the main modern lexicographical sources of Anglicisms in Spanish: Rodriguez Gonzalez and Lillo Buades (2009) and Gorlach (2001), after eliminating some items which are, in our opinion, wrongly labelled as false Anglicisms by such sources. The choice of this area is motivated by the fact that Anglicisms have been widely analysed in this field, but until very recently, studies seemed to assume that all seemingly English words were genuine Anglicisms. This has in part changed thanks to a number of studies which specifically mention that some of these are pseudoanglicisms (e.g., Balteiro 2011b, Rodriguez Gonzalez 2012). However, our point is that precisely the influence of English on other languages is best proved not in those cases in which the use of a word would be "logical," i.e., where the item borrowed is a genuine English word, but in those proposals the success of which is merely due to their English-like appearance. These words may have developed through autonomous creation, or thanks to a number of processes which show how the recipient language has integrated the word and started to modify it on its own. This study will comment on some of the most salient examples of such differences, and give examples, where appropriate, of the same false Anglicism in other European languages.

As was mentioned earlier, the sources for our analysis were two lexicographic works, one specifically dealing with Spanish Anglicisms, i.e., Rodriguez Gonzalez and Lillo Buades's Nuevo Diccionario de Anglicismos (2009; henceforth NDA), and Gorlach's Dictionary of European Anglicisms (2001; henceforth DEA). The procedure was as follows: in both cases, a first selection was made of all Anglicisms related to sports from these two sources. Then, the material was filtered: the NDA, for instance, provides plenty of adapted and unadapted forms, but except for a few cases, it does not distinguish between genuine and false Anglicisms, and even some of the false Anglicisms are identified as genuine English words. The DEA has the same problem (occasional mislabelling as false Anglicisms), and also fails to mention that some of the words appear in more languages than those documented in the dictionary; more specifically, some of the items identified in various European languages also occur in Spanish (also as false Anglicisms) without any mention of this being made in the DEA. Therefore, in all cases, each item was considered in order to verify whether the word as such does exist in English, or if it is a false Anglicism. In the case of single-word items (e.g., cross) the main criterion adopted was its presence in the latest online version of the OED. As for multiple-word expressions, a number of online searches were conducted in order to verify if websites located in English-speaking countries might use the term (although we are aware of the problems that may arise from using the Internet in lexicographic research, as noted by Grefenstette 2002). This led us to discard some of the items which the DEA originally labelled as false Anglicisms, such as center-back (e.g., "Charlie Mulgrew is Celtic's best centre-back ... just find him the right partner, says Tosh McKinlay"), down period ("Every great player throughout history has a down period in their game"), power-lifting (it is precisely the name of the sport given by its Federation) or punching ball. Similarly, Fosbury flop, according to the DEA, is also a false Anglicism because it is now obsolete and "flop" is preferred. Nevertheless, it was also excluded from the sample: it is true that the ellipsis does occur in English, but the form Fosbury flop is still widely found. Also, we excluded items which have been re-imported by English from the speech of non-native speakers. For instance, parapenting, which is formed in English on the basis of parapente (borrowed from French), is recorded by the OED as early as 1988, and therefore, although diachronically the word might not be English, today it is pointless to consider it a false Anglicism. Finally, corner, which is very often quoted as a false Anglicism for "corner kick," was reported, even by the OED, as early as 1887.

Concerning types of false Anglicisms, and considering our previous remarks on additional categories, the items in our sample may be classified into five groups: 1

(1) autonomous creations (ten cases): autogol, antidoping, basket average, carting, footing/futin/ futing, linier ["linesman"], looping, minibasket, recordman/recordman, recordwoman. This category includes compounds (recordman) and derivatives (footing, linier).

(2) abbreviation (twenty-three cases): all star ["all star game"], basket, blocking, body, bodyboard, brush, bungee/bungy, crack, cros/cross, fly ["fly shot"], fun, funboard, lift, jogging ["jogging shoes"], mountain-bike, off-road ["off-road racing/off-roading"], passing ["passing shot"], punching, skateboard, snowboard, sparring ["sparring partner"], surf, tenis ["tennis shoes"]. This category covers both compound ellipses (cross, for "cross-country racing," crack, from "crack player," tenis, from "tennis shoes," and fun, for "funboard") and clippings (mountain-bike, skateboard, snowboard and surf, from "mountain biking," "skateboarding," "snowboarding" and "surfing," respectively), and thus avoids any confusion caused by whether the missing element is a word, a free or a bound form.

(3) morphological changes (one case): aerobic. This category, which is not explicitly found in Furiassi's typology, is partially mentioned by other authors (e.g., "conversions of existing English words," in Gottlieb 2005, 164), and includes zero-derivation and changes of secondary word-class--although the latter are often not considered false Anglicisms by some authors (see, for instance, Furiassi 2010, 53).

(4) semantic shifts (six cases): challenger ["challenge"], derbi/derby, goal average/goal-average, mister/mister, net, pressing ["pressure"].

(5) hybrid formations (three cases): croner, goming, puenting.

As we shall see in the discussion that follows, most of the five types are not "pure" false Anglicisms if we consider the receiving language exclusively, in the sense that they may have developed in one non-English language and then been borrowed by others. Such is the case of recordman, which appeared first in French and was then borrowed by other languages, such as Spanish and Italian (but not Portuguese, which prefers the hybrid recordista). In that respect, many of these items might be seen not as false Anglicisms, but as Gallicisms. However, if we consider all the reasons for the acceptance and use of Anglicisms and false Anglicisms (pure and otherwise) analysed in previous sections, their "re-importation" is not due to the prestige and attractiveness of the mediating language, but of English. In other words, if Spanish has borrowed footing from French, it is not because it sounds French (which would be the reason why proper Gallicisms are used in Spanish, such as amateur), but because it appears to be English. Therefore, although technically many false Anglicisms might be considered Gallicisms, we still think that they deserve to be analysed as false Anglicisms in Spanish.

4.2. Discussion of results

In this section we shall comment on only a few of the elements found (due to space restrictions), following the five-type classification made earlier. In some cases, as we shall see, there are elements which may be categorised in different ways, depending on the approach; where applicable, remarks will be made on such possibilities, and potential arguments in favour of the different interpretations will be given.

4.2.1. Autonomous creations

As pointed out above, some of these creations have not appeared for the first time in Spanish, but rather in other languages, such as French, and it is difficult to precisely find their first Spanish attestation (since, unlike "native" words, Spanish dictionaries have not traditionally been enthusiastic about including Anglicisms). This is the case of the already mentioned footing and recordman/recordwoman, but also others, such as carting. Other cases are clearly not French, such as autogol ["own goal"], since the word for 'goal' in French is but. However, it may prove difficult to classify the spelling adaptation autogol as an Anglicism, since auto- ["self'] is a productive Spanish combining form (autoadhesivo, autoportante, etc.) and it might well be seen as a hybrid form, although speakers might still consider it the anglicised alternative to the longer phrase "gol en propia puerta/meta." The same could be said, therefore, about minibasket ("biddy basketball" in the US, "mini-basketball" in the UK), which might be considered an autonomous creation, but also a hybrid formed by mini- and the clipping basket ("mini-" is a productive prefix in Spanish), or even a clipped form, from the English "minibasketball." Interestingly enough, the abbreviation may be taken to an extreme, and players and fans often refer to this sport as mini: "El Mini es el ultimo reducto de pureza, la ultima esperanza de que un deporte de formacion distinto es posible" ["Mini-basketball is the last oasis of purity, the last chance for a different formative sport"].

Other candidates for genuine coinage of false Anglicisms in Spanish are basket average ["aggregate score"], which does not occur in French, and appears to have been formed by analogy with goal average, a term coined for football and then exported to other sports (although, as shall be seen below, average in this case does not mean "average," but "difference").

Probably the most interesting group of items within the general category of autonomous creations is that based on the -ing suffix. As is the case with false Anglicisms in most European languages, many of these were actually coined in (and imported from) French, such as the orthographically adapted carting: "Dans les environs du Touquet, il y a un Karting outdoor, ou vous pourrez faire quelques tours de piste" ["In the surroundings of Touquet, there is a go carting track, where you may take a few laps"]. However, we may very well consider that the most powerful form of false anglicisation is not any specific word, but the -ing suffix itself, given its productivity, not only in French but also in Spanish (as seen, for instance, in recent hybrid formations like buzoning ["mailbox advertising"] and poming ["door handle advertising"]). In our sample, however, there are few cases of genuine autonomous creations in Spanish, and they do not usually correspond to traditional sports, but to outdoor activities (goming, puenting), and are in fact more accurately loanblends due to the presence of a Spanish baseform, as we shall see below.

Within this section, antidoping must also be considered; frequently occurring in Spanish with the meaning of "dope test": "Casualidad o no, para el antidoping de ese partido Maradona volvio a ser sorteado" ["Coincidence or not, Maradona was picked out again for the dope test after that match"]. This item can also often be found in other languages, such as French: "Ceux qui meriteraient d'etre sanctionnes c'est les experts de l'antidoping pour incompetence" ["Those who would deserve a punishment are the dope test experts, for sheer incompetence"]; and Italian: "L'incredibile rivelazione ... e stata scoperta dopo l'antidoping effettuato nella stessa partita" ["The astounding revelation came out after the dope test in the same match"], etc. The question might arise here as to whether it is an autonomous creation, or an ellipsis from an alleged "antidoping test" form in English. In this case, we are inclined to follow the NDA, according to which it is not an elliptical formation, but an autonomous creation or a hybrid in French, where anti- would have been added to doping. This could be substantiated by the fact that "anti-doping test" is not featured at all in the OED, nor in the British National Corpus (which does contain nineteen instances of "dope test"). It is true that "anti-doping test" is now becoming frequent in English, but this could be an example of re-borrowing, which has not fully replaced "dope test" (yet). For instance, regarding the recent controversy with the former cyclist Lance Armstrong, in the New York Times we were able to find the following: "While not a conventional antidoping test, Usada concluded that the findings build a compelling argument consistent with blood doping" (II October, 2012). However, in the same article "doping test" or "drug test" are used more often.

4.2.2. Abbreviations

Within this category there are two possibilities: clipping of a bound form (surf < "surfing"), or shortening, that is, elimination of one of the initially constituting parts of a compound, as in basket (< "basketball," but also from "basketball shoes"). The former is interesting, since the increased use of clipping in Spanish as a word-formation mechanism may be seen as an Anglicism in itself (see, for instance, Rodriguez Gonzalez 1975).

Basket alternates with the orthographically adapted basquet or basquet (as accepted by the DRAE), and enjoys great popularity, including the names of specialised magazines (Gigantes del basket) and top division Spanish teams (Bilbao Basket, Valencia Basket). In this case, the belief that the word is a genuine English one is reinforced by the existence of international basketball leagues in which speakers of languages other than English are likely to encounter the word being used. In France, the premier league is called Ligue Nationale de Basket (, and in Pro A (top) category for the 2011-2012 season, the full name of nine out of the sixteen teams contained the word basket; in Italy, one of the leading websites is called "," and the name of the professional players' association is Giocatori Italiani Basket Associati. In fact, one of the most popular radio programmes currently on Spanish radio is called Playbasket, and there are frequent uses in English by non-natives:
   Get a taste of the best basket in the Palau. This pass gives you i
   ticket for 3 different regular ACB League and Euroleague matches.

   Air One is official sponsor and carrier of Cimberio Varese and
   Bennet Cantu, two leading basket teams in the Italian Basketball

4.2.3. Morphological changes

Under this heading we have classified the case of aerobic/aerobic. "La 8a plaza en el mundial de Aerobic" ["The eighth place in the world championship of Aerobics"]. Arguably, this could be seen as a case of semantic shift or abbreviation, as the word could probably be considered an ellipsis of the noun phrase aerobic exercise. However, it appears that Spanish speakers have eliminated what they interpret as a plural form, although for Rodriguez Gonzalez this may have been due to the awkwardness of the /ks/ consonantic group for Spaniards (2012, 135). This wrong perception by non-native speakers that the -s in English nouns ending in -ics is a number morpheme may be confirmed by the frequent elimination of such element in English as a lingua franca (for instance, a Google search of "about politic and" offered 15,400 hits in October 2014).

4.2.4. Semantic shifts

Quite frequently, an original English term may acquire a different meaning in the receiving language, such as net used for the genuine "let" in tennis. Some examples are clearly different in meaning, such as mister, which is often used as "coach" in Spanish football, whereas in other cases the semantic shifts are sometimes not immediately visible from the context, but can lead to confusion.

The case of goal average (and its variants goalaverage, goalaveraje and golaveraje) is a salient one, because the meaning in Spanish is significantly different. In English, "goal average," according to the OED, refers to "the sum of the goals scored by a team divided by the goals scored against it" (s.v. goal average), as shown in examples like "the title was lost to Ely Rangers by goal average of just 0.01," as opposed to "goal difference," that is, "the difference between the number of goals scored by a team in a competition and the number of goals scored against it" (s.v. goal difference). In Spanish goal average is used with the meaning of "goal difference," as clearly shown by examples like "marcha en la primera posicion con doce puntos en cuatro partidos, asi como un gol average de +7" ["topping the league table with twelve points in four matches, and a goal difference of +7"]; the same seems to happen in French. "Lors de la saison 2009/10, a la I8eme journee, on avait un goal average de +15" ["In the 2009 season, on the eighteenth round, there was a goal difference of +17"]). The reason this term is used in Spain (and other countries) with this meaning is that, as pointed out by Murray and Murray the method of calculating standings in England when two teams were level on points until 1976 was goal average (i.e., number of goals scored divided by number of goals conceded), and this was then replaced by "goal difference" (1998, 10). Although some Spanish scholars observe this difference (e.g., Lorenzo 1996, 63), this confusion between the original and the false Anglicism is encouraged, for example, by sources like the Real Academia's Diccionario Panhispanico de Dudas (2005), whose entry for "goal average" reads as follows:
   Adaptacion grafica de la expresion inglesa goal average, que
   significa, en ciertos deportes, especialmente en el futbol,
   "diferencia de tantos marcados y recibidos, que se utiliza para
   deshacer el empate entre equipos con el mismo numero de puntos en
   la clasificacion" (s.v. golaveraje) ["Spelling adaptation of the
   English expression goal average, which means, in certain sports,
   especially football, 'difference between goals scored and received,
   used to resolve ties between teams having the same number of points
   in the league'"].

As can be seen, the wording is at best confusing, because "which" may refer to "adaptation" or "the English expression goal average." However, no effort is made to explain that the English expression does not actually mean this, although it is true that no mention of the difference is made in the same dictionary in clearly false Anglicisms like parking. As a result of all this, we can encounter in uses of English as a lingua franca examples of "goal average" with the clear meaning of "goal difference":
   Final standings

   Champions: Brazil, with 6 points and +5 in goal-average to Portugal
   and Mexico Runner up: Portugal, with 6 points and 0 in goal average
   against Brazil and Mexico 3rd place: Mexico, with 6 points and -2
   in goal average against Brazil and Portugal 4th place: France, with
   0 points

4.2.5. Hybrid formations

While the previous categories are the "traditional" types of false Anglicisms in the literature, if we adopt a wider perspective beyond a mere look at the constituting elements, we cannot disregard the expressive power of combinations of English and native, i.e., Spanish, lexical items. In fact, probably one of the most interesting features is that, contrary to what might be expected, the combination (usually derivation) does not always take place between a foreign base and a Spanish affix, as in rockero, but rather foreign suffixes are embraced by the recipient language. It must be remembered that many authors (e.g., Winford 2003) do not consider these formations (called "derivational blends") real Anglicisms, but examples of language contact. Nevertheless, we have decided to devote a short section to them because we believe the reasons behind their formation are the same, and thus lead to the adoption of Anglicisms and false Anglicisms.

In this category, the two main representatives are goming ["bungee jumping"] and puenting ["bridge swinging"]. Both have been created by adding the -ing suffix, which has become very productive also in other languages (see, for instance, Lewis 2003). In Spanish, as is the case in French (as pointed out by Uvirova 1998, 203), this suffix has become synonymous with "[sports] activity," as can be seen by humorous formations like the abovementioned cueling ["jumping over entrance turnstiles"] or balconing ["jumping from a hotel balcony into the swimming pool"]. Interestingly, these words are genuine Spanish creations, which neither exist in English nor can be attributed to borrowing from French, where the expression for goming is saut a l'elastique, whereas balconing is a practice created in Spain. Therefore, these hybrids could be attributed to the same process as false Anglicisms (unlike footing, which is often described as a Gallicism).

The case of croner (also croner), for "time trial cyclist" evidences a use of the English suffix -er which is not due in this particular case to direct foreign influence from the English equivalent. This suffix has some productive power in Spanish with other autonomous formations (for instance, in Argentina and Uruguay a rugbier is a rugby player), probably supported by the similarity with the Spanish equivalent (-ero). In this latter case, it could be argued that the -ero form preceded the -er one; however, *cronero has never been used, and thus it appears that croner has been formed by direct analogy with the real Anglicism esprinter/sprinter.


In the sphere of language contact, false Anglicisms are an interesting phenomenon. As we have seen in previous sections, they are of great interest to linguists for two reasons: from the point of view of semantics and morphology, they tell interesting stories of lexical evolution away from English, as a result of usage and/or contact with the recipient languages. Moreover, in sociolinguistic terms they offer abundant examples of the extreme influence that English exerts on other languages, beyond mere translation, in the same way as Spanish (and other European) poets did in the Renaissance, not only translating Italian poetry, but also writing poems in what they thought was "the Italian fashion" (al italico modo).

The power of these words does not lie in their being English, or in their coming from English, for sometimes such is not the case: they are attractive because they look English, and therefore they convey all the attractiveness of a language associated with power, advancement and prestige. Also in the case of sports, English is the international lingua franca used by the media, international federations and players; speakers feel it only natural that a word that sounds English should be acceptable when talking or writing about sports, even if it has no immediate justification in the English language. These false Anglicisms may take different shapes, and may arise through abbreviation, semantic shifts, hybridization, autonomous creation, or even through morphological modification of English originals, but they all share the flavour and the force that stems from their "Englishness."

We are conscious of the limitations of this study: firstly, although the intention was to examine false Anglicisms as labelled in existing repertoires, the results are based on a relatively small repertoire (forty-three items, from two lexicographical works), which may not fully capture the variety of false Anglicisms used in sports. This could be remedied by using wider corpora, although in this case it would be necessary to prove that the words are seen as Anglicisms in the first place, which could be problematic in some cases. Indeed, as Furiassi and Holland have pointed out (2007), no automatic procedure has been found to extract Anglicisms (false or genuine) from texts in another language.

We are also aware that this, like any study on false Anglicisms, is but a synchronic look at a given stage of the evolution of languages; many of these items may cease to count as false Anglicisms over time, sometimes because they are obsolete in the recipient language, or because they become part of the English language, either through reborrowing or through the natural evolution of English (as in the case of abbreviations). Undoubtedly, the fact that English is a lingua franca may cause it to influence other languages, as has been widely studied, but also to incorporate some false Anglicisms from such languages in the manner we have seen here.


(all websites accessed September 2014)


"la 8a plaza en el mundial de Aerobic" (


"Casualidad o no, para el antidoping de ese partido Maradona volvio a ser sorteado." (

"While not a conventional antidoping test, Usada concluded that the findings build a compelling argument consistent with blood doping." (http://www.nytimes. com/2012/10/12 /sports/cycling/how-lance-armstrong-beat-cyclings-drug-tests. html?pagewanted=all&_r=0)

"Ceux qui meriteraient d'etre sanctionnes c'est les experts de l'antidoping pour incompetence. " (http: // www. lefigaro. fr/sport/2012/10/22/02001 20i2i022QCMWWW00540-les-sanctions-contre-lance-armstrong-voussemblent-elles-justifiees.php?pagination=6)

"L'incredibile rivelazione ... e stata scoperta dopo l'antidoping effettuato nella stessa partita." ( basket

"Get a taste of the best basket in the Palau. This pass gives you i ticket for 3 different regular ACB League and Euroleague matches." ( web/english/socis/avantatges/gaudeix_espectacle/palau/paquets_basquet.html)

"Air One is official sponsor and carrier of Cimberio Varese and Bennet Cantu, two leading basket teams in the Italian Basketball League." (https://www.flyairone. it/EN-EU/who-we-are/partners/basket.aspx) centre-back

"Charlie Mulgrew is Celtic's best centre-back ... just find him the right partner, says Tosh McKinlay" (Daily Record, 26 September 2011)


"Dans les environs du Touquet, il y a un Karting outdoor, ou vous pourrez faire quelques tours de piste." (

down period

"Every great player throughout history has a down period in their game." (http:// .stm) Fosbury flop

"Four decades later, we're all still doing the Fosbury Flop." (The Independent, 27 July 2008) goal average

"[M]archa en la primera posicion con doce puntos en cuatro partidos, asi como un gol average de +7." (

"Lors de la saison 2009/10, a la 18eme journee, on avait un goal average de + 15." (http://

"The title was lost to Ely Rangers by goal average of just 0.01." (www.clubwebsite.

"Brazil, with 6 points and +5 in goal-average to Portugal and Mexico." (http://


"El Mini es el ultimo reducto de pureza, la ultima esperanza de que un deporte de formacion distinto es posible." ( play volley

"Carmel High Teams Play 'Volley For The Cure." ( sports/carmel-high-teams-play-volley-for-the-cure/596521/)


"The GBPF was formed out of the powerlifting section of the British Weightlifters Association (BWLA), the original governing body of powerlifting in the UK since the inception of the sport." (


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Miguel Angel Campos-Pardillos

Universidad de Alicante

Miguel Angel Campos-Pardillos is a lecturer at the English Department at the University of Alicante. A member of the IPA and LexEsp research groups, his teaching and research focus on languages for specific purposes. His publications include several specialised dictionaries published by Ariel and a number of joint works on Legal English and Translation, together with other contributions to journals and collective volumes in Spain and abroad.

Address: Departamento de Filologia Inglesa. PO Box 99. 03080, Alicante, Spain Tel.: +34 965903745.
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Date:Dec 1, 2015
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