One British academic looked at all the English soccer scores going back to 1888 to answer the question of whether soccer is dull:
But Curley used the same approach he uses in his academic career: data, lots and lots of data. By cobbling together game results from several different sources, he has compiled what is almost certainly the world’s biggest compendium of English football scores. Sitting on his GitHub page, devoid of any fanfare whatsoever, are the scores of nearly 200,000 English soccer games played in the top four leagues since 1888, the days of Jack the Ripper and Queen Victoria. These 14 megabytes can tell remarkable stories, dating back more than 125 years to the founding of the English football league…
In 85,694 games — dangerously close to half the total — at least one of the teams forgot to score at all. That led Curley to an answer for one of his questions: “Soccer is a bit dull,” he told me…
Scores are likely to be low. In more than 85 percent of all games, neither team scored more than three goals.
Those low scores help lead to thousands of draws — 47,412 since the foundation of the league system, to be exact. That’s more than a quarter of all games. And 7 percent of games overall have ended with no one scoring, and no one winning — there have been 13,475 nil-nil draws.
Statistical evidence that not much scoring takes place. But, this will only fuel the debate as true fans will argue scoring does not necessarily equal excitement. Baseball fans make similar arguments. Yet, there is a common claim that American sports fans are more interested in more scoring (as opposed to simply movement or action). Does this mean English fans (as well as other soccer fans around the world) are more willing to endure low-scoring games? Is this only because they are used to these games or are there other factors involved?
An English professor argues author Jane Austen made observations similar to those of sociologists:
In his lecture “Jane Austen, Sociologist,” Wednesday night James Thompson argued that Jane Austen is the first sociologist because the focus is on human interaction and conversation in her novels.
“As a careful observer and recorder of association of small group interaction and the minutia of conversation, I am going to argue that Austen is less a moralist than the first sociologist,” Thompson, a professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said…
He said Austen’s work [Pride and Prejudice] had similar observations as Erving Goffman, a 20th century sociologist. Both Austen and Goffman emphasize the importance of first impressions. Thompson said Austen and Goffman both see a first impression as “a crucial test case of social form.” He explained that a first impression is a measure of how well the participants of a conversation understand the “rules” of social interaction.
“Jane Austen and Erving Goffman are simply the most acute observers and analysts of the minutia of conversation so far,” Thompson said.
Interesting to note that this argument comes from an English professor; how many sociologists would agree? I suspect sociologists might argue sociologists aren’t just people who can make astute observations about social life. Rather, sociologists have a particular approach to society that involves theories and a method to collecting and analyzing data. For example, while Austen and Goffman both looked at interactions, Goffman aimed to explain why humans act this way: to make a good first impression and save face.
I’ve wondered why there isn’t more formal overlap between sociologists and those in the field of English. The topics of study are study can be similar though the focus in English is often on the text while sociologists have a wider range of data sources. Sociologists of literature are rare even though texts have had a large influence on American society.
Stories of suburbs trying to pass English as an official language ordinances have been fairly common in recent decades. But, what happens when the story is flipped around? Here is what happened when the mayor of Doral, a Miami suburb, tried to get Spanish approved as the official second language:
But when Doral’s mayor tried to make Spanish the official second language on Wednesday, he was rebuffed by every council member and numerous constituents. And it wasn’t from the small group of non-Hispanic residents who live here. It was largely from immigrants themselves…
But few cities have responded by declaring themselves officially bilingual. Far more states, and politicians, have adopted English-only policies. That has been reaffirmed in the recent immigration reform debate, with both Democrats and Republicans supporting English as a requirement for citizenship…
Florida itself is an interesting case study: Miami-Dade County declared itself bilingual 40 years ago after a wave of Cuban exiles fled island and settled in South Florida. That ordinance was later overturned, but the rejection was thrown out in 1993. The state voted to make English the official language in 1988.
In Doral, nearly 80 percent of the population is Hispanic and almost 90 percent speak a language other than English at home. The city is affectionately known as “Doralzuela” because of its large number of Venezuelan residents.
I wonder how particular this is to Florida which has its own unique history of immigration and whether there are similar cases elsewhere in the United States.
It is also interesting that this is a debate about the official second language. Many of the suburban debates over language have been about making sure English is number one.
In the global realm of languages, French has been losing ground:
Across Europe, French has gradually declined from being the lingua franca to falling behind German and English. English is spoken by 41% of Europeans, while only 19% speak French. English is now the language of business in Europe, a fact which even French ambassador for international investment Clara Gaymard was forced to admit. And French has fallen so far behind in Eastern Europe, in particular, that it is the third-most studied language, behind English and Spanish.
While once the language of culture, French has been pushed off the global stage. Perhaps the most symbolic example of this was in 2008 when Sebastian Tiller, the French representative at the Eurovision contest, planned to sing ‘Divine’ almost exclusively in English. That the French singer did not choose to represent the jealously guarded language of his country internationally came as a shock to many. This cultural decline was mirrored when New York’s Metropolitan Opera decided to reject the libretto of the musical star Rufus Wainwright (who was raised in Canada), because he chose not to translate his opera into English.
The calamitous decline in French seems irreversible, even to the French. In 2008, the budget of La Francophonie, the governing body of the French language, was six million euros; in contrast, the British Council announced it would spend 150 million euros in efforts to advance English.
Who knew that there organizations that spent millions of dollars a year to advance particular languages?
I would guess that this is tied to France’s standing in the world today. No longer a colonial nation and no longer the world’s leading culture (as it was considered to be in the late 1700s/early 1800s), the language then becomes less attractive. But this story also sounds like it is about the rise of English. If people can around the world can only pursue a certain number of languages in their lifetime, it sounds like French is simply being crowded out.
Among other thoughts about language, sociologist Peter Berger comments on the now common convention of starting the word “evangelicals” with a lower-case e.