THIS JUST IN: never mind all the literature on the precedents for African-American oral culture in West African societies, and never mind that ritual insult exchange is hardly uncommon. Apparently Black Vernacular English (and consequently hip-hop) now joins ice and tattoos as yet another thing we can thank slave owners for, according to a University of New Mexico Professor. From The Daily Telegraph:
Professor Ferenc Szasz argued that so-called rap battles, where two or more performers trade elaborate insults, derive from the ancient Caledonian art of "flyting".
According to the theory, Scottish slave owners took the tradition with them to the United States, where it was adopted and developed by slaves, emerging many years later as rap.
To be fair, it wasn't Szasz who came up with the atrocious headline, "Rap Music Originated in Medieval Scottish Pubs, Claims American Professor." But here's the professor's own observation:
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.
Describing language games played by "contemporary inner-city African-American youth" as being "one step short of a fist fight" goes way beyond missing the point. On so many levels. Combine that with a perverse narrative that gives slave owners--SLAVE OWNERS--credit for African-American culture, and you've got a proposition that merits only one kind of response:

Get that?

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