Out Of Spain: Spanish takes el futbol in its stride STRERIDE

Madrid - The French seem to have got their culottes in a twist over the invasion of English words into the language of Baudelaire.

You might be fascinated to know to what extent the language of Shakespeare, or of his offspring, the lager lout, has penetrated Spanish. We've been flocking to Majorca, Tenerife, the Costa Brava and the Costa del Sol for three decades now so some of it must have rubbed off.

And after serious, in-depth research by your correspondent in the sun-starved, cobweb-draped libraries and tapas bars (mostly in the libraries, of course) of Iberia, I can offer you the following results: unlike Franglais to French, Spanglish is not yet a threat to the language of Cervantes.

That is the good news. The bad news is that bad Spanglish, that is, gross misuse of imported words, could be a serious threat to both English and Spanish.

Football is el futbol here, although the t and the b tend to get dropped to create a monosyllabic fu-ol. El friqui (the free kick) is one of the Spanglish words that undoubtedly looks better than the original when written down.

The most common Spanglish word these days is "light", which has gone far beyond its original English connotations and causes the Spanish all sorts of problems with its spelling. Often spelt "lait", or more often "ligth", it has come to mean something more akin to "semi". For example: a radio presenter recently introduced a guest as "de la derecha light" (from the light right), apparently intended as a distinction from the far right.

The danger to both mother tongues comes in the blatant misuse of Spanglish, with the anarchic adding of our "ing" ending in all the wrong places.

Examples: de alto standing (of high standing) is used as the equivalent of "luxury" in advertisements for apartments. Puenting is the word for bungee jumping, taken from the Spanish word puente (bridge), El footing means jogging, El pressing means something between hard tackling and attacking football, El lifting, is the accepted word here for a facelift (or breast adjustment) and, therefore, one of the words most commonly used.

Getting back to football the accepted Spanish word for the team manager is el mister, pronounced, of course, el meester. Spanish sports commentators use an English word for the forehand, but, oddly enough, not ours. El drive is the accepted term.

Unlike in France, where the Academie Francaise is tres fache over the English invasion, its Spanish counterpart, the Spanish Royal Academy, appears to be taking a suitably manana view.

After all, Spanish is spoken by around 300 million people throughout the world, so why should they worry about the odd introduction of such phrases as "full English breakfast" in remote areas such as Benidorm? Perhaps when nap begins to take the place ofsiesta the Royal Academy will wake up and take notice.

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