I don’t want to corrupt you but you could give me a bustarella


money (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

Wheel of fortune. Shot wide open using 50mm/f1...

Wheel of fortune. Shot wide open using 50mm/f1.4 @ISO2800 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Football is the world game, so they say, but an even bigger one is corruption. It’s everywhere. My favourite sport has been tainted once again by stories of match-fixing, bribery and betting cartels, etc etc. (See the links at the bottom of this post to the various reports.) But those are just the antics of footballers and their followers. Let’s not get started on the conduct of politicians.

Oh bugger that, let’s get started on the conduct of politicians and those in the corridors of power! There were reports this week that a former head of Iran’s central bank was arrested in Germany for having a cheque worth 300 million Venezuelan bolivars, or about $US70 million. What is going on? I want to meet the Venezuelans who write these cheques!

Don’t think that corruption is linked to faraway cowboy countries. In Australia, which likes to think it is very civilised, there are juicy stories coming out every day at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into the conduct of Eddie Obese, sorry Eddie Obeid, and other former ministers in relation to the awarding of lucrative mining leases.

So, let’s have a look at this from a language point of view. Football in French is le football and a footballer is un footballeur. A game is un jeu and to gamble or play is jouer. A bet is un pari and to bet on is parier sur, or to bet that is parier que. A bribe is a very interesting word or concept un pot-de-vin (it’s like saying a little pot of wine) and to bribe is soudoyer or corrompre. The word for bribery is given in my dictionary as la corruption. Cash is argent.

In Portuguese, football is o futebol and a player is um jogador. To play is jogar, a bet is uma aposta, to bet is apostar, to bribe is subornar, to take a bribe is deixar-se subornar. A bribe is um suborno and bribery is the same word, suborno. If one is open to bribery one is subornàvel. Corrupt is corrupto. Money is dinheiro.

In Spanish, football is fútbol, and a player is un futbolista, to play is jugar and a player is un jugador. A bet is una apuesta, and as in Portuguese the verb to bet is apostar. To bribe is sobornar or cohechar, and the nouns for a bribe or bribery are soborno and cohecho. Money is dinero.

Ok, let’s see what the Italian dictionaries have to say. There has been a lot of match-fixing and corruption in Italian football over the years, so the dictionaries should feel inspired. Football is calcio and a footballer is un calciatore, and a football game is una partita di calcio. To kick is calciare. To bet is scommettere, to bribe is comprare, but there is a nice word for a bribe and it is una bustarella (it kind of sounds like something you would spread on your toast, I must be thinking of Nutella). To gamble is giocare. Money is denaro or soldi, which is a masculine plural word. (Non ho soldi means I don’t have any money).

Lastly, on to Romanian. The definite and indefinite articles (the, a, an, etc) are treated differently in Romanian to the other Romance languages – basically it has three genders or nouns and the definite article (the) comes after the noun, not before it! Football is fotbal, a game is un joc (both are neuter nouns), corruption is corupție, money is a masculine plural word, bani. My very innocent simple dictionary doesn’t give me the words for the following, so I will use Google Translate: a footballer is un fotbalist, bet is un pariu, to bet is a paria; a bribe is o mită and to bribe is de a da mită. To gamble is de a juca, a gamble is un joc de noroc, which I think is literally a game of luck.

So, having absorbed all this, if you wanted to impress your friends with your multilingual abilities and hint at some pecuniary advantage, you could say: “I am always subornàvel to bani, a bustarella and a little pot-de-vin.”

Send your cheques in Venezuelan bolivars to Bernardo please. 🙂


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