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A Wire About a Dire Hire Who Inspires
The language of Ted Lasso provides hope
“[The English] have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.” — Oscar Wilde, 1887
The English language is a wonderful, fascinating, and vexing thing.
We see the stark differences between British and American English demonstrated in nearly every episode of Apple TV’s breakout hit Ted Lasso.
Ted shows up to coach Premier League football in England, as the new manager of AFC Richmond, and his Kansan accent couldn’t feel more awkward or out of place.
But Ted doesn’t seem to mind: he quickly sets to work with the irrepressible optimism that defines his character and he shows as much eagerness to understand the quirks of British English as he does to get to know his new team.
For example, Ted is talking with his second in command Coach Beard, when he discovers a certain piece of sports equipment isn’t called by the same name in England. And the resulting conversation not only shows Ted’s eagerness and ability to learn but also how closely connected he and Beard are.
Ted: Hey, look at Isaac. He looks like a Rodin sculpture in cleats.
Coach Beard: Boots. They call cleats “boots.”
Ted: I thought you said that the trunk of a car was a boot.
Coach Beard: Also a boot.
Ted: Hold on now. If I were to get fired from my job where I'm puttin’ cleats in the trunk of my car...
Coach Beard: You got the boot from puttin’ boots in the boot.
Ted loves playing with words to brighten people’s days, whether it’s entering the owner’s office saying “Knock-a-doodle-doo!” or complimenting his son over FaceTime with “Good thinkin’, Abe Lincoln!”
If you think it sounds corny, cloying, and filled with Dad jokes, you would be correct. And that’s one of the reasons I love it.
The fast-paced delivery of Ted’s drawl, combined with his witticism and good humor make for a wonderful romp through the language — almost a Premier League level of wordplay with an optimist who’s adept with both versions of English.
A particular favorite scene of mine later in that same episode is when Ted is playfully testing Coach Beard’s ability to decode a description involving his newfound understanding of the language as they walk through the park drinking coffee.
Ted: Okay, I got one. What if I joined forces with a swashbuckling cat to play tiny guitars for women of the night as we read Alex Haley’s most seminal work?
Coach Beard: You’d be in cahoots with Puss in Boots, playing lutes for prostitutes, reading Roots.
Ted: No, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I gotcha.
You got all of us, Ted.
The series is not only great fun for those who love language, it’s well written, has characters we care about, and teaches valuable lessons about leadership and behavior that transcend industries and continents.
It seems that the English and Americans do still have much in common, even if it’s not our language.
And thanks, Ted. It’s nice to admire a squire for hire who inspired us to send this wire.
Thanks, and I’ll see you on the internet.
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