World Cup and Word Choice

Jun 12, 2014 | Better Writing

Today is the beginning of the 2014 World Cup and I’m feeling grateful that I don’t write about sports. That’s because I’d have to choose the word to describe the sport they’ll be playing in Sao Paulo today. The problem is that I’m an American.

Same game, different names

Americans call the sport “soccer.” The rest of the world calls it “football.” An American would say that the Brazilians and Croatians will be playing a “game” of soccer on a “soccer field.” The rest of the world talks about a “match” and “the pitch.” It’s a problem

Use the terms your audience uses.

If I have to choose, I’d choose my words based on my audience. If I’m writing for Americans, “soccer” would be the right word. If I’m writing for a global audience, I’d choose “football.”

Decide who you’re writing for

You have to decide who you are writing for. That’s not a demographic analysis of the people who read your blog. It’s a conscious decision that you make to help you write better.

Don’t write to a demographic description. Write to a person. I suggest you pick a specific, real person, one with a name, a social security number and bad habits. If you do that you’ll find it’s easier to pick the right words.