football pitch/field

  • panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Football pitch:
    BNC - 52
    COCA - 2

    Football field:
    BNC - 35
    COCA - 767

    I think those figures explain the difference very well.
    In BE, we happily use either pitch or field.
    In AE, they almost exclusively use field.

    BNC - British National Corpus
    COCA - Corpus of Contemporary American English
    COHA - Corpus of Historical American English
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Football pitch:
    BNC - 52
    COCA - 2

    Football field:
    BNC - 35
    COCA - 767

    I think those figures explain the difference very well.
    In BE, we happily use either pitch or field.
    In AE, they almost exclusively use field.

    BNC - British National Corpus
    COCA - Corpus of Contemporary American English
    COHA - Corpus of Historical American English

    Here in the US, football is always played on a field, never on a "pitch."
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    In this previous thread, people discuss the use of pitch and field in reference to sports in genera: Field vs pitch?

    They agree that pitch is not used in American English. Some speakers of British English make a distinction between usages of pitch and field in BE. As I understand it, for people who make this distinction, a football pitch would be the playing field itself, while field would include the area in which the spectators stand. They agree that pitch is commonly used to mean the whole area.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In this previous thread, people discuss the use of pitch and field in reference to sports in genera: Field vs pitch?

    They agree that pitch is not used in American English. Some speakers of British English make a distinction between usages of pitch and field in BE. As I understand it, for people who make this distinction, a football pitch would be the playing field itself, while field would include the area in which the spectators stand. They agree that pitch is commonly used to mean the whole area.
    Cagey,
    Here in the UK, permanent spectator stands are not considered to be part of any "field". Only if the spectators are standing on grass around the pitch can they be said to be in any sort of "field". The pitch and any fixed structures around it together make up the "ground" or the "stadium".
     
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    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Football pitch:
    BNC - 52
    COCA - 2

    Football field:
    BNC - 35
    COCA - 767

    I think those figures explain the difference very well.
    In BE, we happily use either pitch or field.
    In AE, they almost exclusively use field.

    BNC - British National Corpus
    COCA - Corpus of Contemporary American English
    COHA - Corpus of Historical American English
    Well, one cannot argue with a Corpus, but I don't think the two words are interchangeable in all contexts in BE. "The field is in terrible shape - Look at all the mud in the penalty area!", for example, would sound distinctly strange if heard at the ground of a professional football club. We also talk of "pitch invasions", not "field invasions".
     
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    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    It's curious that these words mean the same thing in one area of sport but have opposite meanings in another (i.e. throwing a ball).
    Not quite sure what that meant, Pickarooney, (Oh! I got it! Pitch and field in baseball!!).

    but I do want to insist that nobody, absolutely nobody, in the UK speaks of a football field. Nor rugby field. It is a pitch. Although you could feasibly say that my grammar school had 17 rugby pitches on its fields.
     
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    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    One should not assume that because BE uses both terms, "football pitch" and "football field", these are synonyms.
    And I wouldn't be as brave as Spira, who wants to insist that nobody, absolutely nobody, in the UK speaks of a football field.

    Apart from the 35 examples in the British National Corpus, a quick look for media examples came up with these, all within the last couple of weeks.

    At a meeting of the Bushey Forum last month, some residents suggested the community field be put to use in other ways – examples included installing a skate park or levelling a football field.
    Watford Observer (OK, I know, but it's the first one on the list :))

    ONE Touch Football Soccer School are running children’s fun and development day courses at Harrowby Land football field during the half term holidays.
    Grantham Journal

    I have always thought Wayne has handled everything in the past superbly once he got onto the football field.
    Manchester Evening News

    But Ed Balls and Andy Burnham achieved an amazing comeback victory yesterday - on the football field.
    Daily Mail

    During the match there appears to have been a verbal disagreement between two teams and we would like to know whether aggression on the football field has spilled over.
    BBC News


    Read more:
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    Amazing, Panj. Americanisms really spread everywhere, don't they? So I guess that Wayne Rooney is also a great soccer player too in some UK press!!

    PS In BE we do talk generally about playing fields. But not football fields.
     
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    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The term was recorded first in an early British handbook of football.
    It's hard to sustain the argument that nobody in the UK speaks of a football field when we did it first, and continue to do it.

    1867
    Routledge's Handbk. Football 59, I know of no prettier sight than a *Football field on a bright March afternoon.
    OED

    1894 The replies, still in his possession, were sent after careful investigation, and established conclusively the fact that no instance of any permanent injury to a player had occurred in all the long series of contests waged durtng those ten years on the football field
    COHA

    COHA - Corpus of Historical American English
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    Your second source is American, and probably refers to an American football field. A different sport in a different country. The field of play in the US is correctly called the "field".

    Your quote from 1867 is dated only four years after the creation of the F.A., which went unnoticed at the time by pretty much everybody. Primitive football was played -waged even - across fields and valleys for centuries.

    I still maintain that F.A. -recognised football in the UK uses, both popularly and correctly, the term pitch to designate the area of grass on which the beautiful game is played.

    "Soccer field", "I play in offense" and "the game was tied" are how the Americans say "Football pitch", "I play in attack" and "the match was drawn".
     
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    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    Hi,

    What's the difference between football pitch and football field?
    Actually, the most succinct answer has just occurred to me:
    Football pitch = British term to designate the playing area of a football (soccer) match.
    Football field = American term to designate the playing area of a football (NFL-style) game.
     

    Uriel-

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hi,

    What's the difference between football pitch and football field?
    The difference is the ball -- if you're standing on a football pitch, it's round and white, with little black hexagons. If you're standing on a football field, it's kind of brown and oblong, tapering to a point at each end. ;P

    Once to change football to soccer, though, you can dispense with pitch completely -- we call it a soccer field.
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    The difference is the ball -- if you're standing on a football pitch, it's round and white, with little black hexagons. If you're standing on a football field, it's kind of brown and oblong, tapering to a point at each end. ;P

    Once to change football to soccer, though, you can dispense with pitch completely -- we call it a soccer field.
    Yes, you probably do, but the original question is what is the difference between field and pitch, and the answer is AE / BE.
    Football field and soccer field are both AE terms.
    In the UK we would describe these two things as an American-football field (or pitch ?? ) and a football pitch respectively.
     
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    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Yes, you probably do, but the original question is what is the difference between field and pitch, and the answer is AE / BE.
    Football field and soccer field are both AE terms.
    In the UK we would describe these two things as an American-football field (or pitch ?? ) and a football pitch respectively.
    I am amazed.
    Despite all the evidence to the contrary, some still insist that the term "football field" is not used in the UK with reference to places where FA football is played.
    The evidence supports an AE/BE difference, but it does not support an absolute statement that "nobody, but nobody, in the UK speaks of a football field." Nor does it support the theory that such usage in the UK (for which ample evidence has been provided) is an import from AE.
    Personal opinions are fine, but please let's not allow them to get in the way of the facts.
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    I agree that absolutisms are usually wrong, so I'll stop saying "nobody". But I would definitely say "nearly nobody" uses football field in the UK.

    You quoted two sources to the contrary. Here are my replies which went uncommented:
    Your second source is American, and probably refers to an American football field. A different sport in a different country. The field of play in the US is correctly called the "field".

    Your quote from 1867 is dated only four years after the creation of the F.A., which went unnoticed at the time by pretty much everybody. Primitive football was played -waged even - across fields and valleys for centuries.

    To be honest, I'm quite satisfied with my answer in post no. 16.

    PS My answer to Uriel, not ironic, that she probably DOES say soccer field is entirely relevant and not just a personal opinion, as she comes from New Mexico.

    PPS. What do you consider a personal opinion? Everything we utter is a personal opinion to some extent. But some people know a great deal about the subject they are speaking about, and others don't...............
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Since rugby is, as far as I can remember, a type of football, I'll just quote part of the Rugby Football Union's description of touchrugby
    The size of the field can vary, but the game will generally be played on half a rugby field (playing across the field).
    From: Touchrugby A Guide to Playing & Event Management ISBN 1-904626-11-4
     

    pickarooney

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    Once to change football to soccer, though, you can dispense with pitch completely -- we call it a soccer field.
    I've played on many a soccer pitch.

    I find it hard to believe that in this day and age people still cling to the fallacy that 'soccer' is an Americanism. I've even heard avid viewers of Sky's Soccer Saturday espouse this opinion.
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    I agree with Pickarooney. We do say soccer pitch as well as football pitch in the UK, but not soccer field, nor football field.
    The word Soccer is derived from AsSOCiation football, and was coined in 19th century England. But the sport is only called soccer in the US, so it is often seen as an Americanism.
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    I hope that I am not ONLY trying!!

    The name soccer was coined in England, but because WE also talk about football whereas the Americans use the exclusive term soccer (for the sport with the big round ball), many people in the UK BELIEVE the word soccer to be an Americanism. They are wrong.
    Clear?

    PS The real subject here was pitch v field.

    PPS I should have said that the Americans call it soccer only, not that the Americans only call it soccer. That would have been more precise.
     

    pickarooney

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    I'm sorry, I've just realised that I completely misunderstood this!
    But the sport is only called soccer in the US
    as "The only place that the sport is called soccer is the US" as opposed to "The only name for this sport in the US is soccer". :)
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    Hi,

    What's the difference between football pitch and football field?
    DerPilz, here is quite a succinct explanation to be found in English Wikipaedia:

    A pitch is an open outdoor area for various activities. It is used in British and Australian English; the comparable term in American English is field.
    In most sports the official technical term is field of play, although this is not regularly used by those outside of refereeing/umpiring circles.
    A pitch is often a regulation space, as in an Association football pitch.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    We do say soccer pitch as well as football pitch in the UK, but not soccer field, nor football field.
    Excuse me, but I am a British English speaker and you do not speak for me. It may well be true that you do not say football field, but that does not justify your continuing, perhaps dogmatic, assertion that we do not say football field. A cursory use of Google looking for the exact phrase "football field" and restricting the search to UK sites reveals numerous examples. Sources include The Independent, The Blackheath Bugle, Marlow FC, The Guardian, The Community Council for Berkshire, High Peak Borough Council, Abacus Lighting Ltd, When Saturday Comes (apparently "Britain's leading independent football magazine"), The Belfast Telegraph, the BBC and the Caterham Barracks Community Trust.

    I accept that a few of these are using the term to refer to something more than the playing area, but the majority of the ones I read through are using the phrase as a synonym for football pitch.
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    It occurred a short time ago to me that the term "football field" might be used to designate an idea of the playing area, as in: "We need to create some football fields for the town", or "I'm never as happy as when I'm on the football field".
    The pitch is usually referring very specifically to an exact existing pitch.

    Now, Andygc, if you regularly use football field in your normal conversation, I'm not going to say you don't. But it is highly unusual in the UK to hear that.

    Written journalists, on the other hand, are always very quick to mimic other journalists. Who knows where they got that from? It probably arrived with Breaking News!
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It's curious how in BE one of these two words seems to fit some contexts but not others.

    The English and Welsh Football Association's "Laws" use the term "field of play." "Pitch of play" sounds odd; I have never come across it, either from the FA or anyone else.

    The other day the crowd at a televised football match was singing: "We're going on the pitch"* (and the stewards were looking rather anxious). "We're going on the field" would not sound right.

    *This turned out to be a hollow threat.
     
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