Thursday, 21 June 2012

Filthy Euros 2012, Quarter Finals

1. Czech vs Portugal

Brief introduction From now till the end of the Euros, I will be running my own parallel competition: if footballs were replaced with swears, who would win Euro 2012?

I will use the most careful and rigorous analytic techniques to weigh the rivals in each match and from this make a scientific prediction as to who will win*.

This does, of course, effectively pre-suppose some kind of correlation between national swearing and football prowess. Well, as the author of Filthy English, I do regularly find myself being asked by interviewers: so which country does the best swearing?

My answer is always the same: the final would be between England and Bosnia and England would shade it. As Bosnia aren’t in these finals, that leaves England with a clear run. In my gag world, anyway.

In the real — well, you know what I mean — we have today’s quarter final, a west vs east match-off. (Though I’m fairly sure, actually, that Czechs think of themselves as in the west. So don’t tell them what I’ve written.) So how do the two national swearing corpuses add up?

Czech first. This being a contest based on nationality, I offer in evidence a selection of national slurs. To Czechs, a Hungarian is a uher (pimple), an Italian is a makaróni and an Australian is a protino_cí (someone with legs which go opposite ways - it's a reference to that country being on the reverse side of the world).

Now Portugal. The national favourite swear is filho de puta — the direct equivalent of hijo de puta in Spanish. Son of a whore. I quote myself, page 139 of Filthy English.
It's used all the time but can be either very strong or almost friendly. In English, ‘you cunt’ is similar - context and tone are all. In 2007, Jose Mourinho, then manager of Chelsea, tried to explain why he'd informed an official that he was a son of a whore. He found himself tripped up by the way the phrase's strength varies according to context and intent. 'The word can be abusive if you perceive it to be abusive,' he said. 'I say it to myself. I say it to my players, that word which I don't want to repeat.' 

So who’s the winner there? Who will be the first team to make it through to the Euro Swear 2012 semis?

I reckon the Czech swears indicate a breadth and depth of talent, mostly focussed on elevating the self above the others. (Czech antipathies also focus on the Russians. So, having triumphed over them already by getting out of the group, it’s probable that their animus/anima has been diluted.) The Portuguese insult, while simple, shows a capacity for innovation and variation from a very narrow base.

Prediction: Portugal to go through to the next round.

* To put it another way, I’ll be giving national examples of swearing and cracking gags and generally winging it.

Tomorrow The second quarter final: Germany vs Greece

No comments: