1 de febrero de 2020

The making of “De carrileros y piscinazos”

Por Jesús Castañón Rodríguez

The making of “De carrileros y piscinazos”

Jesús Castañón Rodríguez

Saturday 19 January 2019 saw the release of Más de 555 millones podemos leer este libro sin traducción (“More than 555 million of us can read this book without translation”) an informative work edited by the academic and writer José María Merino and the journalist Álex Grijelmo, aimed at highlighting a new collective awareness of the value of the Spanish language, defending its correct use and describing its strength, expansion and presence in the world.

In this volume, 18 specialists analyse the dissemination of the language. They emphasise its strength, examine the dialogue between the Royal Spanish Academy and society, and contemplate pan-Hispanic approaches and the work of the Instituto Cervantes. They comment on Americanisms, varieties of Spanish, the influence of English and aspects of translation, as well as offering an examination of the relationships between language and sport, law, economics, feminism, history, literature, the rural world and advertising. The contributors include Raúl Ávila, Pedro Luis Barcia, Jesús Castañón Rodríguez, Inés Fernández-Ordóñez, David Fernández Vítores, José Luis García Delgado, Pilar García Mouton, Álex Grijelmo, Salvador Gutiérrez Ordóñez, Fernando Herrero, Eulàlia Lledó Cunill, José María Merino, César Antonio Molina, Francisco Moreno Fernández, Santiago Muñoz Machado, Rosa Navarro Durán, Francisco Javier Pérez and Jesús Sánchez Lobato.

The book was presented at the headquarters of the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid, on 4 March 2019, at an event attended by the editors of the work, the director of the Royal Spanish Academy, Santiago Muñoz Machado, and the director of the publisher, Taurus, Pilar Reyes.

The event was also attended by the secretary and five members of the Royal Spanish Academy, the secretary general of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language and the secretaries of the Nicaraguan Academy of the Language and the Paraguayan Academy of the Spanish Language.

Cover page

Brief history of the sports chapter

The chapter was written in Asturias, Valladolid and Madrid between 28 February and 21 May for an audience with a high educational level.

It was based on the idea of reflecting on sport as a sphere for the generation, and not the destruction, of language, at great speed, although the necessary improvements should be taken into account in order to overcome errors. It set out to provide a historical focus that would go beyond the tendency of linguists to limit their analysis to the language of newspapers and that of journalists to take delight in anecdotes and mistakes, with the aim of disseminating specialist knowledge and assisting reflection with data originating on both sides of the Atlantic.  The chapter thus emphasised the configuration of sporting language as a choral work that captivates, unites and enables enjoyment of the right to surprise, in addition to recording the creativity of its neologisms and the work of 7 Spanish-speaking countries in obtaining recognition of Spanish as an official language of FIFA and the International Olympic Committee.


The chapter “De carrileros y piscinazos” (“On wing backs and dives”) is organised in five sections.

First, an introduction reflects on the importance of Spanish in the realm of sports and its consideration as a complex work characterised by its permanently changing condition and state of flux. This results from the participation of different sporting professionals, entities and organisations such as the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, fans and artistic manifestations with an interlacing of words and expressions. It also emphasises the social influence of sporting neologisms on the general renewal of the language.

Second, “The study of neologisms” proposes that the traditional view of terms imported from French and English via international organisations should be overcome with the aim of making way for a more complex reality through the intervention of 39 different languages. This affects everything from Olympic sports to the newest forms that look to technology. This section describes the institutional observations made by academic works, specialised dictionaries, observatories, lexical corpora and comparative studies between European languages. It comments on the work of Antonio Viada, the presence of sporting terms in the 1899 and 1914 editions of the Diccionario de la Lengua Española and in the academic dictionaries of Argentina and Mexico. It also provides historic data on the approach of the media since, on 4 February 1902, the Barcelona-based magazine Los Deportes replaced English and French words with Spanish words and this lexicographic effort was combined with dissemination in the Diccionario enciclopédico Salvat and the Enciclopedia ilustrada Seguí. The section also briefly summarises the traditional concern for the correct use of language thanks to the contributions of sports journalism with Antonio Viada and Josep Elías i Juncosa; those of the general news media with the opinions of Julio Casares, Mariano de Cavia, Ramón Franquelo y Romero and Vicente Huidobro; of the daily newspaper El Debate; of the journalism schools of El Debate and the Escuela Oficial de Periodismo; of nine editors of sports publications and of the Agencia Efe news agency at the congress El neologismo necesario.

Third, “Types of neologisms” presents formal and semantic neologisms and loanwords with examples of words from America and Spain. It looks at cases of derivation, composition, parasynthesis, initials, acronyms and abbreviations. It also provides examples of lexical crossovers, new meanings, figurative uses, the designation of new realities, synonyms and wordplay to modify repetitive speech, prestigious initials and proper nouns. And it comments on the acceptance of foreign words and phrases, the processes of adaptation from other languages, the use of translations and the search for equivalent expressions.

Fourth, “Neologisms in colloquial language” records the metaphoric use of sports expressions in daily life to explain 16 positive aspects, 17 negative aspects and another 7 situations. It notes images that summarise at the same time facts and emotions and explains the growing use of sports language to draw analogies in other fields such as economics, education, politics, religion, health and tourism.

And fifth, a conclusion section points to sport as an infinite sphere for the generation of language, as an exciting social game with all-inclusive participation and as a meeting point for creativity using cultivated and popular, innovative and traditional mechanisms.

These sections are complemented by a block of 23 notes that include 73 bibliographic references on sport in Spanish from around the world. Journalistic, encyclopaedic, sporting and academic sources are considered, including reference works published by the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language, the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, the Royal Spanish Academy, the Argentine Academy of Letters, the Mexican Academy of the Language, as well as dictionaries and specific studies of neologisms or multilingual encounters that include the Spanish language.


For the style, a double structure was achieved to enable a double rhythm in the reading: the main part of the text is expressed simply with details of all kinds and the notes are expressed with depth, precision and supporting documentation.

And furthermore, to comply with the informative purpose of the work, numerous and varied examples of a general nature were included, related with the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and Pan American Games, as well as specific expressions from 23 sports: athletics, motor racing, badminton, basketball, handball, baseball, boxing, cycling, extreme sport, Paralympic sport, winter sports, electronic sports, football, gymnastics, golf, weightlifting, judo, swimming, padel, canoeing, taekwondo, table tennis and sailing.


In short, “De carrileros y piscinazos” proposes a journey through the wealth and diversity of Spanish in sport, aspects of history, verified current usage, doubts in journalistic writing and geographical varieties, seeking awareness of its great dimension and its communicative importance.