Iniesta passed and Messi finished clinically: Football verbs and transitivity

Gunnar Bergh, Sölve Ohlander


Football language, like other special languages, is not only of lexical interest. It is also special by virtue of various syntactic and semantic features, related to the situational context of football. Two areas of verb syntax, involving transitivity, are in focus: the omissibility of certain contextually recoverable “football objects” (e.g. Iniesta passed [the ball], Messi finished [the attack]) and the occurrence of “unconventional” objects of certain verbs (e.g. Their third goal killed the match, Manchester United sold Ronaldo to Real Madrid). Thus, like other special subject areas, football creates its own semanticpragmatic framework, paving the way for constructions and collocations that deviate from those applying in general language.


football language; transitivity; omitted objects; unconventional objects; expressive economy; selectional restrictions

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