Friday, March 11, 2005

Grammar in rap

The New York Times has a piece on grammar in rap that's worth checking out. It quotes Patricia T. O'Conner and Jesse Sheidlower (we're all Sheidlower all the time at A Capital Idea these days; brace for it).

Columnist Clyde Haberman wonders why grammarians aren't outraged by usage in hip-hop.
Few of them seem to be losing sleep over tortured word formations. On the contrary, rap usage "is grammatically interesting," said Jesse Sheidlower, the North American editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. "It's not random, and it's not sloppy." ...

If you consider rappers "on purely linguistic grounds," he said, "their inventiveness is worthy of emulation."
I listen to some hip-hop, and I enjoyed the premise of the piece. But I loathe the cutesy plays on words Haberman employs. Consider this insert into a quote from O'Conner:
"If you wanted to get ridiculous," - as opposed to, say, ridikyulis, which would look ludacris - "I guess somebody could argue it's supposed to be heard poetry rather than read poetry, so you don't see it in writing," she said.
Don't expect a protest group to be formed any time soon, something on the order of Grammarians Repudiating Rancorous Rap Refrains, or Grrrr.
What trash.

For some unknown reason, the bottom half of the column is devoted to the lastest conflict in the rap world, where Haberman tries to prove once and for all that he is superior to the artists in question -- 50 Cent and the Game.
Last week, another shootout occurred there between hangers-on - they prefer to call themselves posses - of 50 Cent and his onetime protégé, the Game.

IT seems that Mr. Cent, who earns a lot more than four bit for his albums, does not get along with Mr. Game. You know how temperamental artists can be. That is especially true when they walk around with bullet wounds from old shoot-'em-ups. Fortunately for Mr. Cent, wounded nine times but going strong, some in the rap world don't shoot any better than they spell.
'Tis a pity a nice idea for a column was so sullied by a columnist's bad attitude.


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