This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

A Question of Quality: a rant.

Ooh, there's a big fuss here in England at the moment.

An exam board, the OCR, is proposing to include Dizzee Rascal and Russell Brand in its syllabus for an A level English exam. (The A level exam is the 18+ getting-into-university test.)

Dizzee Rascal is a grime MC, and Russell Brand, he's done some presenting, and he's done some acting, but mostly as far as I can see he's a professional...well, let's call him a commentator.

Anyway, rather a lot of people round here are turning crimson and falling down in apoplectic fits. Their last conscious words tend to be either outrage, or, rather pathetically, Shakespeare.

I do have some sympathy with their point of view, but look, if it's language then it's worth studying, isn't it? I mean, there's nothing like a bit of dross to make the gold shine, is there?

As long, of course, as there's gold available for study, too.

Why shouldn't rap be studied along with other poetry designed for public proclamation such as Beowulf, and other rhyming couplets such as Pope's?

As for Brand, he employs his wide vocabulary rather enchantingly(though, from the little I've seen so far, he doesn't usually have anything tremendously interesting to say. But that's fascinating in itself.).

Why does Dizzee Rascal say things like “Hip hop is what encourage the yoof to get involved in making things better. If you believe, you can achieve, innit?”

Is it because he's never heard anyone speak conventional English?


So why?


Hey, you know something? I think I'd quite like to do that A level course myself.

As long, of course, as it was richly seamed with gold. 

Word To Use Today: rascal. This word comes from the Old French rascaille, rabble, perhaps from the Old Norman French rasque, mud or filth. 

Oh cripes....I didn't know that derivation when I started writing this post. Sorry.

I wonder if Dizzee knew it when he chose his stage name?


  1. Well ...

    I rather like Dizzee Rascal, and Russel Brand, and I like the way both of them use English:

    Don't watch my passport photo
    I know I look a bit loco
    And I know that my Spanish is so-so
    Let's try and keep that on the low-low

    (an extract from his Dizzee's single 'Holiday')

    For me, anything that interests young people, or people generally, in language, in English, its use and its variety is a good thing.

    1. I completely agree, Eddie, though I still prefer Pope to Dizzee. Is that allowed? Pope was from an oppressed minority (Catholic) as well as being differently abled, so I think I should be able to get away with it.