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[[DES_1]]FC Barcelona’s stadium is one of the most iconic sports venues in the world. Inaugurated in 1957, it held as many as 120,000 spectators when it was expanded for the 1982 World Cup. Since being converted into an all-seater, it now holds ‘only’ 99,354 people, which still makes it the biggest sports stadium in Europe.
But what do we call it? The name has caused considerable confusion among both foreigners and natives alike. Is it the Camp Nou or is it the Nou Camp?
The truth of the matter is that both are correct. Or at least they were until 2001, when president Joan Gaspart called a referendum and 68.25% of the club members voted to make ‘Camp Nou’ the official name of the stadium.
When it was first built, there were allegedly proposals for the ground to be named after club founder Joan Gamper, which the Francoist authorities opposed due to Gamper’s associations with Catalan nationalism. President Francesc Miró-Sans and his board eventually opted for the rather unimaginative ‘Estadio del FC Barcelona’. But not even following a referendum that officially endorsed the name in 1965 would it catch on among the supporters. Instead, they simply called it the ‘new ground’, to differentiate it from the former Les Corts stadium that it had replaced.
In Catalan, however, the adjective for ‘new’ (nou) can go either before or after the noun, in this case ‘ground’ or ‘field’ (camp). So both ‘Camp Nou’ and ‘Nou Camp’ were technically correct until ‘Camp Nou’ was recognised as only the correct form in 2001.
Say the name
That’s the order of the words sorted out, but what about the pronunciation? That too causes difficulties. The ‘Camp’ bit is simple enough, that’s more or less the same as we say ‘camp’ in English, although there is a tendency among Catalans to drop the ‘p’ at the end and just say ‘cam’.
But ‘Nou’? It’s not camp noo, and it’s not camp nau either, although those pronunciations are so widely used by foreigners these days that they are widely understood and accepted.
For the true perfectionist, the ‘o’ sound is more like the one in ‘modern’, but coupled with the ‘u’ at the end, that makes for a diphthong that doesn’t flow too well in an English sentence. The closest equivalent in the English language is something like ‘camp know’, but you can click here if you want to hear how a native says the name.
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