In 2003, 50 Cent and his fellow G-Unit rappers released a song called “Stunt 101”, in which they claim to “teach you how to stunt”. I’ve been listening to this song for years without a second thought, but now it occurs to me that this verb stunt is completely baffling–what on earth does it mean!? […]
Most of us can rattle off the ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T’ bit of Aretha Franklin’s signature tune, but how much do you know about the rest of the lyrics? See if you can fill in the blank below: I’m about to give you all of my money, And all I’m askin’ in return, honey, Is to give me […]
This week the Oxford English Dictionary published their final quarterly update for 2012. Among the recently revised entries is the noun ice, which has got me thinking about the lyrics of “Thrift Shop”, a song by the hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Check it out: I’m just pumped, I bought some sh*t from a thrift shop. Ice […]
With the 2012 election looming next week, are you sold on another four years with Obama? Perhaps you’re looking to change things up with Mitt. Which candidate will you choose to represent you? I’m out for dead presidents to represent me. Say what?! Rather than get mixed up in all that political business, I’m here […]
In the early 90s hip-hop artist Doug E. Fresh released a single called “I-Ight (Alright)”. The song wasn’t what you’d call a smash hit, but I mention it today because the editors of the OED have just put its namesake aight into the dictionary. Looking at the entry, it seems that Mr. Fresh was a bit of a lexical trail-blazer in […]
As we rolled on, I seen the patrol on creep, so we got ghost. —“Alwayz into Somethin’” , from N.W.A.’s Efil4zaggin (1991) For me, this lyric represents one of the great potentials of hip-hop. An otherwise unremarkable sentiment, when channelled through the mind and mouth of a deft MC, can become something poetic and memorable. […]
The other day I had an earworm stuck in my head, an old rap song which goes: Wanna be a baller, shot-caller, 20-inch blades on the Impala… [N.B. 20-inch blades are wheels, and the Impala is a type of car] After mouthing that line to myself for a few hours, it occurred to me that […]
Like many folks of my generation, upon hearing about the death of Adam Yauch, aka MCA, I’ve spent the last few weeks revisiting my Beastie Boys’ albums. At one point during my listen, I began to wonder about their lyrics and what kind of mark they’ve made on the English language. Is it possible that […]
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Word of the Day: flânerie - aimless idle behaviour... oxford.ly/PccljP
In case you missed it: Word of the Day: laconic - using very few words oxford.ly/P7Pq9g
Interactive timeline of loanwords in English: trace how the language has developed over time oxford.ly/1kSNCuM
Esprit de l'escalier: when a witty remark comes to mind after the opportunity to make it has passed. oxford.ly/1kAo2xE