Grijelmo: "Let's lose complexes in the sports lexicon: colonialism must be ended"

Álex Grijelmo presents 'With the tongue out' (Taurus Ediciones), his tenth book on language rooted in AS, with the articles he published between 2016 and 2019.

Grijelmo:-"Let's-lose-complexes-in-the-sports-lexicon:-colonialism-must-be-ended"

The meeting with Álex Grijelmo regarding his latest book, 'With the tongue out' (Taurus Ediciones), results in this two-voice talk in a natural way. The proposal comes from Álex himself. "As the prologue has been written by Alfredo Relaño, what would you think of a conversation between the two, moderated by you?". No sooner said than done. Alfredo accepts. He was the director of Diario AS when the articles that today fill the 368 pages of this book were published Sunday to Sunday, from 2016 to 2019, he is the author of the prologue. They arrive at the same time at the newsroom, so different from how they saw it so many times, empty by the pandemic, the COVID. Their chairs are more than two meters apart when they begin to speak. The book is the beginning of an intelligent and hypnotic conversation between the two that almost becomes a tennis match. It is impossible to take your eyes off them as they talk, debate. Of the language and its complexes. From idioms. From 1975. By Joaquim Maria Puyal. And from that term, Final Four, about which they always end up disagreeing and that counts so much why 'With the tongue out'.

-What is special about 'With the tongue out'?

-Álex Grijelmo: These are comments on the sports lexicon for and against. I do not know if there is a compilation on the sports lexicon as it was published in Diario AS, in the Alfredo Relaño stage. I believe it is unprecedented.

-Alfredo, you wrote the prologue, do you feel that a part of the book is yours? What does it have to do with the idea?

-Alfredo Relaño: Yes, I'm sorry. Because he came out in AS as a director. What I no longer remember is if it was my inspiration ...

-Á. G .: It was, it was.

-AR: It is actually a copy of the section that Álex has in El País and that I have followed for a long time. I told him and he said yes. There was a moment when he called 'Carousel Deportivo' when they made some mistake. And they took that as a very important scolding, as if the CEO were calling. Something contributed to its improvement.

-This is almost like a bible for the sportswriter.

-Á. G .: Well, I don't know a Bible. A reference book, yes, for those who want to be a careful journalist. Unfortunately that is scarce. There are journalists who do not care about one word or another, without realizing that it has an importance. There is a segment of the public that appreciates well-written language. And that when they see that a journalist does not use words well, or uses approximation language, they tend to believe that he is not well formed. Words are the clothes we wear. If we are careless in our clothes they may think that we are careless in something else.

-AR: I like the language, the Castilian well treated, and I consider it essential to defend it. I know this is not a very good time for that. Journalism people come out with spelling mistakes. Some time ago it was suspended for that in Civil Engineer.

-When did Alex offer to write the prologue ...?

-AR: I was very honored. I loved. He told me months in advance.

-Á. G .: But I have known him for many years. I told him in time so he wouldn't get overwhelmed (laughs) .

-AR: Well, it's almost worse (laughs) .

Many years. Specifically 46, since 1975. They were linked by a still common friend, Miguel Moreno. "He was a colleague of mine in 'La Voz de Castilla', the newspaper in which I started as an intern in Burgos," says Álex. Moreno had been Alfredo's classmate in college. "When I came to Madrid, after a two-year career in Pamplona," continues Grijelmo, "he told me to call Alfredo, who could help me in something." Relaño was then working at the 'Arriba', Álex was already reading to him. When he called, those words, "I'm Miguel Moreno's friend," led to a dinner.

-Á. G .: Alfredo took me with Ernesto López Feito, Vicente Carreño and Julio César Iglesias with whom he met on Thursdays. I was very honored. And it was also the first time in my life that I tried pizza. Then in Burgos there was no (laughs) .

-AR: (Laughs) Yes? Well maybe it was also the first time I tried it too.

-Á. G .: Then Alfredo called me from time to time. "Come with me, I'm going to interview Alfredo Evangelista." And I went there three or four times with him. And then, when Alfredo entered El País, I had to interview Juan Luis Cebrián for a magazine in Barcelona with which he collaborated and I asked him for a link. In time we would be companions, although with an independent path.

-Do you remember the pizza thing?

-AR: No, I don't remember (laughs). I remember the second, the management with Cebrián. Alex's care with Spanish always caught my attention. You made a compilation of verses, of old songs from Castilla La Vieja, and that caught my attention, your search for words. Like his program on National Radio, with the dying words section, to rescue those that were in disuse. I thought that his section in El País could be done in AS, to prevent the language from deteriorating endlessly. There is a certain snobbery in some things. "As I am more advanced in motorcycles, I put this word that nobody understands." That happens. I, as I read many old things, I perceive that there are foreign terms that invade and then recede. For example, the stretches of the goalkeepers were defined with the word "plongeon", something like dives. Or the term "packing", which then sprint prevailed. I believe that you only have to go to the foreign language when you have no other choice. The final to four I tolerate it better. I just don't know what to call it. Semifinals are not exactly, it does not include the final. Alex is more purist than me.

-Á. G .: Phase four best.

-AR: When it has already been imposed, it has been imposed. We copy something else they do on another site and, on top of that, we translate it badly. It was better for us to finish four than the last four.

-AG: Sure, because in English it's the final four. Final is not a noun but an adjective that has been prepended to the noun. And it is not a final to four, it is the four at the end. A professional should be aware of these things. I remember when I went to football with my father, saying: "It was offside." It took me a long time to discover that it was the same as Órsay (laughs), adaptation to Spanish of offside. In different parts of the book, I pay a certain tribute to Joaquim Maria Puyal, who was the one who first broadcast soccer matches in Catalan. It was found that there were many words that were used in Spanish because in Catalan they had no equivalent in the sports field. Wardrobe was said to be wardrobe. And Puyal began to say dressed, dressing, the most correct in Catalan. Or they said shirts and Puyal said zamarretas. Now everyone says zamarretas and dressing room. Because he took the trouble to translate into his language, according to the rules and resources of his own language. He went down in history for this. Well, this is what the Formula 1 commentators have given up. They are unable to translate words that are perfect. Boxes, pit-lane. All are perfectly translatable. If they had adopted the Puyal mentality, now we would have them in Spanish and we would use them. And that inferiority complex that everything technological, what comes from outside, is more important than our own language, increases the sense of inferiority that Hispanics have.

-AR: You treat that a lot in your columns.

-Á. G .: There is a responsibility.

-AR: Look, since AS has American editions that handle Spanish with small variables, there are words in the chronicles that are from there but are understood. For example, cyclists, 'riders'. It made me very funny that in Mexico they call stove football the transfer period because it is winter there. And, one day, in a meeting, a marketing man suggested that this had to be translated. And we said: "He has noses. They use English words, of which, by the way, there is no clue to know what they mean, and it is going to bother you that some guys are called pedalists who hit the pedal and that they understands the first time. " But it is because what comes from Anglo-Saxon is superior and what comes from an evolution of Spanish seems not to be understandable.

-Á. G .: And then there are findings. For example, 'piscinazo'. It is a Spanishism, it is used in Spain nothing else. In Mexico they say 'pool', not pool, in Argentina, 'pool'. 'Piscinazo' is a perfect find in the sports lexicon. Or 'Villarato', by Alfredo. They are words that use the language's own resources. The ending in azo, the suffix, which serves to form other words. Villarato, apart from Califato, Triunvirato ..., all these words that already give us a clue by analogy with what that is going to mean, also has its antecedent in the Porfiriato.

-AR: Exactly. That's where I took it.

-Á. G .: From Porfirio Díaz who was in power for 20 years in Mexico. The Porfiriato. A specific stage and a way of governing linked to a person. They are fabulous finds. If we are able to do that, how are we not able to translate words that have an obvious meaning in Spanish.

-Why 'With the tongue out'?

-Á. G .: (Laughs) Because I already imagined that I was going to go with my tongue out to write the articles. I had other activities in El País, in the Group, in the School of Journalism, and I could see that I was going to write them with my tongue out. And with the tongue sticking out it is also a way of playing football, especially in the last minutes. And it incorporated the word language. It united several polysemias that made the case. And Alfredo was fine with it. Maybe it was even your idea?

-AR: No, no. I'm not good at putting titles. I remember when I met José Ramón (De la Morena) to order 'El Larguero' from him. I was going with 30 names and I didn't like any of them. He had two or three. One, 'El Larguero'. I said, "This is the good one."

-Á. G .: This is a great capacity for Alfredo and for very few journalists. Recognize the good ideas of others. This is extremely important. See the talent of others.

-For many years it has seemed that literature and sports were like oil and water. Has that changed now?

-AR: It was worse. Now it no longer discredits getting into writing about football. At first, the practitioners who have retired, the old shirts, were the first to make chronicles, the big firms were in the bulls. In addition, it immediately took on a look, in the time of the Republic, when all the tensions were in Spain, which ended in a Civil War, that many regional passions emerged there, which is very bronchistic. And then, after the war, the Franco regime dedicated to that, first, a rather absurd pro-Spanish rhetoric. I have come to read it, that everyone in the Tour de France was against Manzaneque so that he did not win the stage. You read it when you were 12 years old and you said: "Joe, what the fuck… they are all, who are going against Manzaneque." And between that and the fact that the left-wing intelligentsia made it a bit clear that sport was a thing for donkeys, there were few exceptions. Antonio Valencia Gilera at ABC, who I liked a lot, Manolo Alcántara ... It was as a result of the transition, the departure of the generalist newspapers, which began to be more interested in sports, El País was one of the first, Candau joined writers to make the chronicles, that is better seen. Sport became one of the flags of modernity in Spain, especially with the Barcelona Games. And now it doesn't look so bad. Now what there is is that you find yourself many times in the News, for example, that they have put a sign and have not even bothered to see that an 'n' is missing, that there is a misprint. And they leave it there. And that newscast, if it is a weekend, they repeat it twice and it comes out with the same typo. It is a general oversight. Yes I see a certain snobbery of the specialist in one thing and want to epate ... Another Gallicism.

-Á. G .: (Smiles) Surprise, amaze…

-AR: If they are Latino, they don't hurt.

-Á. G .: If whoever had gone to Formula 1 from the beginning had tried to translate terms… Those of us in football cannot complain because very little has gone wrong. We say corner, we say penalty, we say offside now.

-AR: Yes, yes, indeed. Notice that they began to say "referee", or I referred, who remains in Argentina. In the chronicles of the fifties it was said goalkeeper instead of goalkeeper. And, by the way, in bringing sports and culture closer together, writing to football, Valdano also had a very important influence. In eliminating that mistrust. At first he suffered it from the world of football itself. García called him 'El Filósofo', what he wrote was called 'Valdanadas'.

-Á. G .: And 'El Rapsoda'. This showed the contempt for the culture that existed in a certain sector of sports journalism.

-AR: He called Puyal 'Doctor Puyal' but with irony. Because Puyal was a philologist and it was a pleasure to hear him speak.

-Á. G .: García Hortelano, a great author, went to football incognito. He didn't tell anyone. It was not frowned upon for an intellectual to go to football. Now there are many writers who like to talk about football, write and boast that they know about football.

-AR: It caught my attention, and I commented on this with Valdano, that after the attack in the Bataclán room in Paris, the reappearance of Europe with its way of life was not a concert, neither rock nor music classic, it was a football match at Wembley, between England and France, with the presidents of the two countries, as if to say: "You are not going to stop us." Because a game had to be suspended that day. Football is very important.

-Á. G .: In fact the first joint in Europe was the European Cup.

-AR: Yes, yes. Before the common market, before the Treaty of Rome, is the creation of the European Cup, in which democracies and dictatorships intervene; there were monarchies, republics; there were Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, Muslims ... That was done in 1955. The first real initiative, since Charlemagne. It has had a very great importance, so it is good to take care of it from the language, and treat it as a serious thing.

-Á. G .: Without complexes. The point is: let's lose our complexes in the face of words that come to us from outside, above all colonialism. Let us feel strong in our culture that this is good for the economy, the self-esteem of a country. Soccer is an activity that is close to cultural activity. There is a culture of soccer, the same as that of bullfighting, although that does seem to be going out. But football is growing. I am an amateur, I enjoy and suffer, I have no complex in saying it. Let's put an end to complexes also in the sports lexicon, with what comes to us from outside and that we consider more prestigious just for that.

-AR: There is a football term that comes from bulls. Do you know what it is?

-Á. G .: There are several. One is hand in hand.

-AR: Yes, yes, but I was referring to firewood. The bull came out giving firewood to the horses. In hand in hand I did not think.

-Á. G .: Yes, it used to be said: "He was left alone with the goalkeeper." Now it is said: "Hand in hand" .

-AR: He is also in tango. "Hand in hand we have agreed." But the use of the word firewood does not. As a kid, he missed me. Until one day reading old chronicles I read that: "The bull came out giving firewood to the horses." And I said, "Oh, this is why." It is still used, by the way. Less.

-Á. G .: I think it's used more in the lower divisions (laughs) .

-How do you now see this transition of seeing a kid who is counted in 'Tik Tok', who reads in 140 characters?

-AR: I don't like it. Let's see, it is an irreversible process and you have to look at it with compression, it is inevitable, but it goes against language. The chronicles that are made in the newspapers, in fact, are much shorter than those of before. There is less and less time to dedicate to that, to pay attention to anything. It gives rise to another type of society, we will see in what better and in what worse. They have more specific information, sure, but they will have less depth of knowledge. Man, it's not my time anymore. I look at him curiously.

-Á. G .: They are times. And now this one has arrived. A recent report explains that 15-year-olds' reading comprehension is worse if they read on screen than on paper. The screen emits light and the human eye is not used to receiving light for a long time, so fatigue occurs. The eye sends a message to the brain: "This is getting me tired." The next generation is going to lose in reading comprehension and in the ability to concentrate, I hope they will obtain benefits that compensate for those.

-What teaching leaves the reader 'With the tongue out'?

-Á. G .: That the resources of the Spanish language are infinite. To create words and adapt ideas that come from other languages. By two procedures. For good, show an equivalence with other words: 'I referred', referee, good. Or, adapting the anglicism when it has already been installed and when it names something new. Like football. That then has its derivation that we say soccer player, soccer player, soccer player. When a word has already been incorporated, it has its derivations. This book shows that language capacity to adapt and to create.

-How could that term be done, Final Four, Final a Cuatro? It is already installed.

-Á. G .: It is a final to four ...

-AR: Final four sounds better.

-Á. G .: But it is that final to four is a mistake in the terms. How to say black snow

-AR: What we don't know is how to say it.

-Á. G .: But the end cannot be with four. The final is with two.

-AR: But it will be better than final four ...

-Á. G .: We always have this debate (laughs) .

-AR: But to say anything else would sound artificial, after being so installed. Maybe it comes out alone. As popcorn came out, after flangeón. But in the 1920s it was written like this.

-Á. G .: Yes, yes.

-AR: I have heard my father say it, when Ricardo Zamora heard him say it. Then it was changed to palomita

-Á. G .: Look, one discussion we always had was discount minutes. Discount minutes are not discounted, they are added! And in the end, a formula came out, which Iñigo Markínez, from SER, began to use: "There are two minutes, three, plus the tablet." Perfect. Using the language's own resources. That is the wealth and great capacity of the creators of the language that we can be journalists.

-Talk about the Sevilla anthem having a syntactic error.

-Á. G .: Yes. "That is why I am coming to see you today" .

-AR: That's French. But in poetry it is admitted. To fit.

-Á. G .: Well, well ...

-Does it squeak a lot when you listen to it?

-Á. G .: Very much. And things that are sung at the Bernabéu. "When will Madrid win, when will Madrid score". How. It will be when Madrid scores. It kicks me in the ears and I suppose a few thousand more than I do.

-AR: That's when I tell you that you are more of a purist than me. I'm more understanding about it.

-Álex's columns have given them a lot to debate…

-Á. G .: Yes, because we talk about all that and we maintain discrepant points within the same illusion, due to journalism and careful language. I with the word purist ... I would prefer more environmentalist words.

-AR: Yes. Environmentalists must be exaggerated. But if they didn't, the Casa de Campo would be paved. He has that mission.

-Á. G .: (Laughs) Of loss of patrimony. You are sad to lose cultural heritage.

-AR: Language activist.

-Á. G .: Language activist, okay. No bombs.

-They spoke before Álex's section on National Radio, 'dying words'. What words that have died in the language of sports journalism do you regret that they have disappeared?

-Á. G .: Booth. "The referee sent him to the booth." There is no. Formerly yes. Especially in modest football, authentic booths. Now the changing rooms have a gym, sauna, all the comforts. The booths that I have known when I was doing sports journalism in Burgos were infamous and the word has disappeared through changing rooms.

-AR: I remember when I started at Marca that I also made changing rooms. When you commissioned the journalists' services, you said: Eutrapelia, which was like a counter-chronicle. And then it said: Booths, the position of being in the changing rooms. Missed braid, which was a bit cheesy. Because the referees wore a little white embroidery, around the neck, a braid. At that time when I began to work it was called field jumping, because the fields surrounded them with a ditch, and the teams jumped it and, of course, in the first chronicles ... "They jumped into the field ...". And this is no longer said.

-Á. G .: I think so. But all vocabularies are renewed as reality is renewed. What is absurd is that the things that were said in Spanish begin to be said in English. And idioms like "has earned the position." It has overtaken you a lifetime.

-AR: Won the position… I think it comes from basketball, where it is going well, because winning the position is "I get here and you can't come anymore." But not in cars, in cars it is "it has been advanced" .

-There is another striking aspect of Álex. That he has devoted almost more time to goalkeeping than to journalism. Alfredo, have you ever seen it?

-AR: Yeah right.

-Á. G .: We have played together sometime.

-AR: There he walked in Burgos like this, like this. But that's when Manzanedo came out, who made it to the National Team.

-Á. G .: Yes, it was international.

-AR: Cut off Alex's path.

- "He took the position" .

-Á. G .: (Laughs) The truth is that when we were juveniles in Burgos they said: "Either Alex or Manzanedo." We were the reference goalkeepers in youth football in Burgos. And more than Manzanedo was better than me, which he was, what cut off my football career was that I went abroad to study. If I had continued ... Look, a goalkeeper who was a substitute for me in the Cervezas El Aguila team came to play for Burgos. I think I could have played at least in Second. And, as you know, I keep playing in La Liga de Medios, and panchangas with friends. Thursdays, in El Retiro.

-Álex, how many times have you told Alfredo that anecdote, about when you interviewed Juanito crying?

-Á. G .: (Laughs) Many because he forgets.

-AR: No, I don't remember. Did you interview Juanito?

-Á. G .: I interviewed Juanito, he was crying. And me almost too. It was a match against Barakaldo. Then the goals had iron behind and the ball was with such violence that it hit the bottom and came back, and the referee, Sánchez Arminio, said: "Keep going, keep going." He thought he had hit the crossbar. And five minutes later, I went to interview Juanito who was just out of the shower and could barely say four words to me. He cried with rage because they had annulled that goal, the one for victory. It would be the year 73, over there.

Two before they met, that Álex Grijelmo tasted pizza for the first time, from the true root of this book, 'With the tongue out', which has just been published and should already be a Bible for anyone who wants to dedicate themselves to this, sports journalism.



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