Who will talk the talk as World Cup enters knockout phase?

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It’s mine, mine, mine!

Sixteen teams have departed from Brazil, and the World Cup knock-out phase is shortly to begin. Sixteen teams still dream of being the 2014 FIFA World Cup champion (and in a couple of hours they will be down to fourteen). There is so much analysis of the event from a footballing point of view available, so let’s be nerdy and take a linguistic look instead. Who will get bragging rights come the final whistle, who will squawk and screech and howl in protest at the inevitable controversies to come?

In the top half of the draw, one semifinalist will come from the winners of  ….

  • Brazil v Chile
  • Colombia v Uruguay

It’s a Romance language affair – 1 x Brazilian Portuguese team among 3 x South American Spanish teams. The pressure on Brazil to perform at home is enormous. Chile and Colombia look dangerous.

... and the other semifinalist will emerge from 

  • France v Nigeria
  • Germany v Algeria

European giants v African outsiders; The languages involved, of course, are French (some commentators are calling Algeria the French B team), Arabic, German and English, bearing in mind that there are many, many languages African languages in Nigeria.

football-114653_1280In the bottom half of the draw, one semifinalist will come from the winners of  ….

  • Netherlands v Mexico
  • Costa Rica v Greece

This is Europe v Latin America; Dutch and Greek against Latanish/Spatin.

... and the other semifinalist will emerge from 

  • Argentina v Switzerland
  • Belgium v USA

So many languages involved here! Spanish via Argentina (and it’s increasingly important in the United States); Swiss French, Swiss German, Swiss Italian – and let’s not forget Romansh; Belgian Dutch (Flemish), Belgian French, Belgian German and Walloon (a Romance language), and American English.

People are saying it has been Latin America’s tournament so far, so just going by the force of numbers, Spanish has to be the best bet. But things can quickly change – in a couple of hours at least one, if not two, of those Spanish speaking teams will be gone. Now I am signing off to catch 2 hours’ sleep before Brazilian Portuguese takes on La Roja Spanish at the ungodly hour of 2am Australian time. If  your team is still in the competition, good luck!

 

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