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16 JULY 2014

Powerful Germans Top Unconvincing Argentinians In 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Final

Powerful Germans Top Unconvincing Argentinians In 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Final

Cambridge University Press experts analyze team language throughout tournament

Experts at Cambridge University Press have analyzed and assessed millions of words relating to the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil to find words frequently used to describe each of the 32 nations, drawing the attention of publications across the globe, including the New York Times!

Using the Cambridge English Corpus, a multi-billion word database of written and spoken English language from a huge range of media sources, the Language Research team at Cambridge has identified the words most typically associated with each of the teams throughout the tournament to give an indication of how each team has been perceived by media and fans alike.

Given our findings, perhaps it comes as no surprise that the powerful, focused and committed Germans made it to the championship match in Rio after demolishing hosts Brazil in Belo Horizonte, while opponents Argentina were seen as the underdogs. Although the South Americans had been playing with confidence and flair, their performances had been seen as unconvincing on their route to the final, and ultimately were not enough to withstand Germany’s attack.

The final proved a step too far for hosts Brazil, crashing out in spectacular fashion after a 1-7 defeat to the Germans, and the weight of the nation was clearly on their shoulders with 200 million people behind them. With the Seleção proving to be extremely popular, it was inevitable that players were going to be emotional in front of the home crowd in a desperate attempt for their first World Cup triumph since 2002. The Netherlands’ performances had seen them described as rampaging, stunning, and strategic before their exit from the competition.

Although the USA lost to Belgium, feelings towards the team were positive, with the three most often used words to describe the team being determined, heroic, and courageous.

However, the media took other nations to heart, particularly those in Central and South America. Colombia, arguably the darlings of the tournament, was seen as unpredictable, exciting, and attacking on their way to the quarter-finals. Surprise package Costa Rica was also viewed as being dynamic and contenders, while their pace was also noted. After 120 minutes of frantic soccer playing against Belgium, the USA team certainly caught a few eyes with their determined and courageous attitude throughout the tournament, large parts of which were down to Tim Howard’s heroic performance.

Some teams which didn’t fare as well were Uruguay, with bite and disgrace associated with them following Luis Suarez’s well-documented on-field antics, while 2010 champions Spain, who exited at the group stage, were described as poor, humiliated, and defensive.

Dr. Claire Dembry from Cambridge University Press said, “The breadth of sources we’ve analyzed over the course of the tournament means we’re able to give unique insight into the mood surrounding each team.”

“Examining the Cambridge English Corpus and seeing how the media portrays the various competing nations have given us interesting insight into how national identity and stereotypes have been played out in the media.” 

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