Louis van Gaal’s exemplary English

ALISON EDWARDS

Observant, Maastricht

Louis van Gaal is a genius. Inspired. Visionary. And I don’t mean just as a football manager, although he seems to be quite good at that too. I mean in his use of English.

You might think I’m being sarcastic. I’m not. Linguists consistently find that, in interactions between native and non-native speakers, it is often the native speakers who cause breakdowns in communication. Non-native speakers then blame themselves for not understanding. Van Gaal, to his credit, simply refuses to play this game.

When Van Gaal moved to Manchester United, a Dutch journalist wrote an article for the British press: ‘10 rules for interviewing Louis van Gaal’. “It’s his language now, not yours … It is not Mr. Van Gaal who has trouble speaking English, it is you, for not going along with his obviously much better interpretation of it.”

To exemplify Van Gaal’s ‘trouble’ with English, the…

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