Monday, December 29, 2008

Your mum's so fat she eats deep-fried mars bars

An American academic has claimed that the art of battling, so long associated with rap music, actually has its origins in the Scottish practice of flyting. The Daily Telegraph carries the story here and it's a good read.

Professor Szasz is convinced there is a clear link between this tradition for settling scores in Scotland and rap battles, which were famously portrayed in Eminem's 2002 movie 8 Mile.

He said: "The Scots have a lengthy tradition of flyting - intense verbal jousting, often laced with vulgarity, that is similar to the dozens that one finds among contemporary inner-city African-American youth.

"Both cultures accord high marks to satire. The skilled use of satire takes this verbal jousting to its ultimate level - one step short of a fist fight."

I know I would say this, but this is a point I've been making to anyone who's cared to listen over the last few years of teaching English Language (grand total of listeners so far = 3). And while the academic quoted in the Daily Telegraph, Professor Ferenc Szasz, credits the Scots with inventing flyting, I thought it had existed from way back in Anglo-Saxon times with warriors such as Ragnar Hairytrousers chucking abuse across the battlefield. A fascinating piece on this blog makes a link between internet flaming, Anglo-Saxon flyting and rap battles.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter. I suppose what's interesting is that like so many things to do with language, there are ancient origins or paradigms for most of our current usages. If you can get to it before it's removed, the poet Benjamin Zephaniah has done a really interesting programme on the background to the dozens, a competitive and abusive form of wordplay, which you can find here on I-Player.

And for some light entertainment, try this link for The Pharcyde's excellent track Ya Mama.

Black British English vs MLE

The latest episode of Lexis is out and it features an interview with Ife Thompson about lots of issues connected to Black British English, i...