On the street wordplay is a positive thing, a sign of expression
and enquiry. At the other end, of government injustice and corporate
malfeasance, it is a Machiavellian tool whose effect is to trompe le monde
Dizzee Rascal’s record is wicked, bruv. Boss,
Blood, mayytte. No it’s not wicked, iz wikkid. That word is an exception,
it has been in the lingua franca for two decades, and a 10-year-old
on the Clapham Omnibus (alighting at Expression Drive; rather than
Received Pronunication Avenue) is as likely to pepper his nascent
tongue with that as an Arthur Baker-esque veteran sporting his full
raving honours and subculture colours.
Mostly though words have a short shelf-life these days, as
short as the latest musical genre that goes from the shit to hit
to shit in a matter of days. Hundreds of days, but days still. We
think that this can be a good thing.
Hold the newsreader’s nose
WhoreCull exists for many reasons
and one of those raisons d’etre is certainly to stretch English
away from the turgid confines of basic journalese or modern literary
prose: both perfectly valid, perfectly correct forms of expression,
but usually as dull as dishwater. Particularly to an editorial team
who for the most part can’t look at any given word and fail to find
myriad derivatives or sub-meanings, who won’t let lazy transatlantic
metrotypes drop the Ds for Ts just because you can finish your metre
easier. In fact if we do have a standard in this regard it’s a tirade
against zombie nation’s ‘like… whatever’-isms – the disinterested
repetition and tailing codas so clearly an expression of a wealthy
western anti-inquisitive ennui. Liam Lynch’s United States of
Whatever tune hit the nail on the head, but like so much well-intentioned
product its only ramification has been to ‘ramp up’ usage among
people who are too lazy to realise they’re the subject of his mockery.
Then there’s the wiggers of the West, those suburban white
boys infatuated with black America’s linguistic mores, having heard
nuttin’ but G things for ‘fiddin’ years. Nick McDonnell’s 12
has two rich white kids Timmy and Mark Rothko walking, talking and
frontin’ like they be south Bronx hoods, so clearly into a world
not their own that they also fail to see any irony in their ridiculous
Not that it’s necessarily better a few blocks uptown. Here
you have massive stars like Ja Rule coming thru on a ghetto hood ticket. Times was hard. I ran wid my peeps, etc.
In interview all the usual phrases are trotted out with almost bored
diction, and you get the impression he may well have been told to
say that by Murder Inc records and actually has no experience of
the life he is talking about (why bother if you can get away with
Indeed you could go further and say the ‘language of the streets’
is just one big mode of deception because – let’s face it – in London,
Birmingham, New York, Detroit, poverty and crime are not nearly
as big issues as they are in third-world holes, so the culture could
well be creating the crime. How important are those trainers or
phones really? (see page 23).
Or friendly milk will countermand….
Early Culls from Gavin Wyber, replying
in extreme kind to a rabid homophobe, or ‘Adolph
McGroot’, looking at the way feminism so disappointingly aligned
itself to mature capitalism, by advocating a National Euthanasia
Programme for Whores, were as much adventures in language as they
were driven by didactics. The overall effect can be to confuse,
but again we’re in favour of disorientation round here, at least
until sufficient experience finds us the final definitive cairos of life.
We encourage this because we think people should twist their
language out, so at least how you talk is exciting if not what you
Weapons of mass deception
There though our method and the instances discussed are mostly
fairly benign. To the David Frums (the guy who penned Bush’s memorable
‘Axis of Evil’ mnemonic) and Ali Campbells of this world, the use
of language has a distinctly disturbing undercurrent. People wondered
why Ali Campbell, a mere civil servant – a director of communications
in a world of politicos, was so central to this latest WMD/sex-up
fuck-up from no 10.
Well, we’ll tell you. The governing world is becoming less
and less accountable to the highly-taxed, frustrated ‘little people’.
Democracy is a sham. Globalisation distances everyone but the worshippers
of the owl from realpolitik. The message is far more important than
actual events. The messengers are, to use a mixed metaphor, always
moving the goalposts of debate to extricate themselves from their
latest mess. We bombed Arabs again because Saddam had weapons of
mass destruction. No we bombed Arabs because he had the potential
to deploy WMDs. No we bombed Arabs because that potential could
be realised within FORTY-FIVE MINUTES. Not even an hour, frightening
eh? Well twisted MI6, or Whitehall, or Downing Street, or some bloke
in Lords bar. Or everybody. Better ignore UN wishes and the Geneva
Convention and pre-empt the problem to solve it. If it’s there.
We don’t know. But we need you to know.
better ignore those citizens who, with finely articulated slogans
and strength in numbers, told Blair that he can get to fuck with
his warmongering. The 1 million-plus of ACTIVE DISSENTERS (the apathetix
and the fence-sitters by their inactivity should have less say here;
it’s a point echoing Rousseau, but a valid one) had no effect whatsoever.
We know we’re getting fucked over, but what’s to be done?2
US Offence Secretary Donald Bums’felt (ju ci?) was at it too,
recently saying that the very unclear ‘prism of experience’ of 9/11
rather than WMDs was the reason for bombing Arabs. Saddam = Osama
= global terrorist network. Every Arab muslim is a threat, it’s
obvious. Well Donny and Dubya, the more insightful among us realised
on about 12 September 2001 that Iraq was likely to get it in the
neck for what might have been the work of a Saudi wahabi affluent
fanatic, for what was your enormous security balls-up.
What of the corporate side, the Enrons of this world? In a
marvellous piece on corporate America’s creative use of accounting
techniques those few years ago (I’m sure it’s still going on) Donald
MacKenzie referred to Wittgenstein, who realised that words are
flexible beasts and that you can say anything to justify the action.
Wittgenstein did not approve of this, he just saw the loopholes
possible in legal practice. When you pay some enthusiastic Accounts
man flipping great wadges of cash, very big holes to loop through
can be found.
Linguistic elasticity, if you will
I’m on the W3 bus trying to forget all that shit because the sense
of futility is palpable. I do not have Tony Bush or George Blair’s
ear, let alone those of Jeff Skilling or Bernie Ebbers who destroyed
the retirement dreams of many bourgeois souls (not so bothered about
that, but it’s still wrong). But the black girls at the back have
mine: because like Shakespeare every word is spit right; every word
has that clipped London hybrid (of Jamaican patois and street cockney)
sound, new ones are being created right there, the metres are clinical,
the cadence all quality and all said at speed (see Don’t
resort to Cliché, this page). I admit it. I’m fascinated. Yeah-yeah-yeah,
taste of the X-otik. I’m cultural touring, baby.
In general though, one enormous boon of our society is that
language and vernacular in particular are always moving forward;
indeed subcultures seem intent on finding the new buzzwords. This
is articulation of the new, a rapidly-changing society where people
now look at artificial screens all day and then take their soma
to zone out. First, electronic mail, Second e-mail. Now email, one
word, no hyphenation: even my granny knows what it means.
Dictionaires have a job on each year trying to work out what
has become accepted for inclusion, and what is still out of bounds
for the establishment. We ultimately accept that emotional and intellectual
expression can be just as finely articulated by a Munchian howl
or physical discourtesy but they wouldn’t fill our journal.
So, tell me, as my age appreciates and the battle for relevance
is slowly lost, can I still say that tune is “wikkid”? Best not.