Words: footing or jogging?


L’inglese… secondo gli italiani! Uno degli errori più comuni riguarda il termine “footing”, inteso come “correre”. Bene, una scioccante verità: in inglese non solo non si dice così, ma “footing” significa tutt’altro…  

Mark Worden (Standard British accent)

The Italians often use the word “footing” to describe the act of running to keep fit (1). Nobody really knows why this is so, but it is a mistake (2). In English if you want to talk about running to keep fit, you say “jogging”: if you say “footing,” people will stare at you rather strangely (3). The word “footing” does of course exist in English but it means something else: footing is the hold that your feet have on the ground (4), and so we talk about a “firm footing” or a “shaky (5) footing.” It basically means ”equilibrio” but footing has other meanings in English. For example, in Scotland and the North of England there is a glorious tradition called the “first footing.” This happens on New Year’s Eve (6): somebody will walk through (7) your door shortly after midnight bringing a piece of coal or, better still (8), a bottle of whisky. This will bring good luck. According to tradition, if the “first footer” is a tall male (9) with dark hair, then that is a good sign for the new year. If, on the other hand, the first footer is a male with blond hair, this will bring bad luck, as indeed will (10) a female first footer. And “footer” in English also means football: this is a slang abbrevation.


1   running to keep fit: correre per tenersi in forma
2   mistake: errore
3   will stare at you rather strangely: ti guarderanno in modo piuttosto strano
4   the hold that your feet have on the ground: la presa che i tuoi piedi hanno sul suolo
5   shaky: traballante
7   through: attraverso
8   shortly after midnight bringing a piece of coal or, better still…: poco dopo mezzanotte portando una pezzo di carbone o, meglio ancora…
9   tall male: uomo alto
10 as indeed will: come del resto farebbe

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