AS the new football season gets under way, the BBC wants to ban certain words and phrases from its coverage to avoid perceptions of ‘racial bias’.
Commentators have been told not to say things like ‘nitty-gritty’, ‘cakewalk’, ‘uppity’ or ‘sold down the river’ – which are said to have slavery connotations.
The ban, following a similar prohibition by Sky Sports, is a further example of broadcasters’ increasingly woke mindset, which was brilliantly taken apart earlier this year by Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail.
All this wiping out of words reminds you of George Orwell’s 1984, where the omnipotent Party aims to kill off ‘Oldspeak’ – rich, varied, nuanced English – and bring in Newspeak.
With Newspeak, surviving words are shorn of shades of meaning. The aim is to make the vocabulary so limited that thoughtcrime – dissent – will eventually be impossible because there will be no way to express it.
So could football commentary eventually be reduced to Newspeak? Let’s listen in …
‘Doubleplusungood shot!’ (‘He’s booted the ball into the top row of the stand!’)
‘Overmoon parrotsick!’ (‘The striker scores and is absolutely delighted, while the opposition team are bitterly disappointed.’)
‘Ing ungood jeershame.’ (‘The England performance was dreadful and they’re being booed off by furious fans.’)
‘Endmatch pitchmob.’(‘There are people on the pitch. They think it’s all over.’)
Gobbledegook, or what? Fortunately, it’s only a joke for now. But if you’re a sports commentator, it must be hard these days having to watch every word you say. There are thousands of offence-takers out there just waiting to whip up a Twitter storm and end careers because of one slip of the tongue.
And with the latest diktat, there’s even more reason for commentators to mind their Oldspeak . . . Big Beeb is watching you.