The habitual juxtaposition of a particular word with another word or words with a frequency greater than chance. Those of you on more than nodding terms to corpus linguistics will know I am talking about collocations – words that simply go together. When you hear the first word in a certain context, you instinctively know what is coming next. Maiden and voyage for example. Or commit and suicide.
The English language is littered with them and so it is perhaps unsurprising that the social phenomena of collocations has made it into the lexicon of European football. Taking into account the setting and spoken or textual discourse, certain words are now inevitably followed by the same phrases over and over again. And with every passing season, new collocations are born in stadiums all over the continent with increasing frequency. Don’t believe me? Then try the following Footballer Collocations exercise and see for yourself.
Complete the phrase that begins with each of the following nouns:
Xavi Moyes Robben Torres Ramos Inzaghi
…cuts inside onto his left foot.
…is already on a yellow, he has to go.
…is just a yard offside.
…should do better there.
…looks concerned on the touchline.