The origin of the izzle
Kathleen Miller covers a fun topic in this week's On Language column: the izzle phenomenon, after she saw it in a New York Times headline recently.
Some clever Times copy editor, for a June article about Chrysler's new 300C sedan, created the headline, "Fo' Shizzle, That Big Bad Chrysler Really Does Sizzle."Miller then launches into a history of the Z infixes, from the names at the end of "Double Dutch Bus"(1981) -- "Bilzarbra, Mitzery, Milzetty ... Titzommy, Kitzerrance, Kilzommy" -- to Another Bad Creation's "Playground" (1991) -- "Into the Mizzark chillin' in the pizzark ... mother said be home by dizzark."
The phrase made the headline because the person inquiring about the car was none other than the rapper Snoop Dogg, himself the creator of the izzle phenomenon and the man MTV calls the "slanguistic sensei" of the hip-hop generation.
Snoop* hit the trend in '93 with "Tha Shiznit": "The surgeon is Dr. Drizzay, so lizzay and plizzay with D-O-double-Gizzay."
And then Miller moves on to izzle. She traces some claims by E-40 but comes up short. But everyone seems to agree that the phrase originated in Northern California.
And from the Bay Area to the rest of America it went. It's in "Legally Blond II," Old Navy commercials, Fortune magazine and the British legal system. And let us not forget a song I was mildly obsessed with for some time: Jay-Z's "Izzo, H.O.V.A."
Now I'll be singing the song for weeks. But Snoop is saying enough, already.
He recently told Ryan J. Downey of MTV News: "The message is L.I.G.: let it go. OK, America? Let it go. You can't say 'izzle' no more. Tizzle, fizzle, dizzle — none of that. It's over with. ... Let's find something new. Maybe pig Latin, anything."*Miller gives Snoop Dogg's real name as Cordozar Broadus. I was perplexed; I had always thought he was born Calvin Broadus. A little digging brought this article to my attention from the Times of London.
He was born Cordozar Broadus, but was known as “Calvin” until his mum started calling him “Snoop” after his favourite cartoon character, Snoopy from Peanuts.So, watch out. All these sites are wrong. As is this MTV story.
Certainly, Snoop's "real name" is better known as Calvin. And there's nothing wrong with saying "Snoop Dogg, aka Calvin Broadus." But that's not the name he was born with.
(UPDATED: I originally had William Safire writing this column, but he's still on vacation, despite the byline on the story here, here and here. I'll trust this one at the Times. Thanks, Josh.)