The poetry of scraper sites

The Run of Play, which is rapidly rising to the top of my list of favorite blogs, has a comical investigation into how bizarrely mangled language seems to find its way into some soccer (football) blogs:

A bit of snooping confirmed my suspicions. Worldwide Sports News was flagrantly stealing content from other sites and putting it through a Roget’s filter that made it sound like a customer-service call gone horribly awry. (“Perusal”, incidentally, meant “Reading”.) If I were the anonymous syndication service that provides the content for TeamTalk and Yahoo! Sports, I thought, this would really hurt my feelings, and for a while I burned with a righteous anger to report these plagiarists and tear down their little kingdom. I was too tired to figure out how, though, and after a while, as I sifted through more and more of their mangled interactions with English, the whole enterprise began to take on an unexpected beauty.

So much of the language that’s used in football coverage today is so predictable that you can almost remember an article before you’ve read it. It’s hard to say whose love of cliche is more desperate, the players’ or the journalists’. So why not use different words? Why not call Man City “the bludgeon”? When Cesc Fabregas says Arsenal is “a very, very good side”, I have to pick my head up off the desk with a back hoe. When fake thesaurus-Cesc says Arsenal is “a very, very advantageous edge”, I stop to think about what he means, and frankly I think it’s a better description of Arsenal.

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