Edited By Roberta Facchinetti, David Crystal and Barbara Seidlhofer
MARA LOGALDO ‘Only the immigrants can speak the Queen’s English these days’ but all kids have a Jamaican accent: Overcompensation vs. urban slang in multiethnic London 115
MARA LOGALDO ‘Only the immigrants can speak the Queen’s English these days’ but all kids have a Jamaican accent: Overcompensation vs. urban slang in multiethnic London 1. Introduction “Only the immigrants can speak the Queen’s English these days” and “with the Jamaican accent that all kids, whatever their nationality, used to express scorn” – which may be summarized as “all kids have a Jamaican accent” to identify the central point – are quotations from the novel White Teeth1 (Smith, 2000: 181, 167). The first quotation is a statement uttered by the character Samad Iqbal, a middle-aged Bangladeshi-born immigrant who lives with his family in North Lon- don. The second is one of the narrator’s several remarks about the way Samad’s fictional son, teenager Millat Iqbal, speaks. The novel, writ- ten by the London author of Jamaican origin Zadie Smith, is the case- study I chose along with a selection of grime lyrics broadcast on the London-based satellite TV network Channel U2 in 2004-6: Dizzee Rascal’s Dream (2004) and Stand Up Tall (2004), Kano’s Typical Me (2005), and Sway Dasafo’s Little Derek Lyric (2006). Hence my study 1 From now on, abbreviated as WT. 2 Channel U is considered as the biggest competitor to MTV and other channels which broadcast mainly American rap music. Since its beginning in 2003, its motto has been “don’t play the same American stuff over and over again.” . Following this principle, it has become the most influential television network for UK grime and urban music. The name of...
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