So what’s the deal with this Gizoogle shizzle?

I learnt that coffee can be translated as “fruity ass malt liquor”, for one thing.

The Gizoogle phenomena has been doing the rounds on twitter for a while now, a website that lets you translate anything on the internet into “gangsta slang”.

One of the most famous lines in literary history is translated as: To be, or not ta be, dat is tha question. David Miliband becomes Dizzy Millipede, naturally.

The brainchild of American John Beatty, who started the site in 2005 as a joke after inspiration by Snoop's "Doggy Fizzle Televizzle" program on MTV and a friend's constant use of the slang MSN messenger, it’s become viral most recently after a few relaunches.

I admit, I frittered away my time gizoogling the twitter feeds of stiff-upper-lipped toffs. It was fun to chuckle at the contrast between their normal tweets and this faux-vernacular. Perhaps that's because it highlights the false airs in how they usually communicate?

Here’s an extract from David Cameron’s 2012 Conservative Party Conference speech:

As Prime Minista it has fallen ta me ta say some hard thangs n' ta muthafuckin help our ghetto grill some hard truths fo' realz. All of mah adult life, whatever tha difficulties, tha British playas have at least been Kool & Tha Gang bout one thing. Our thugged-out asses have thought we can pay our way.

And even better, Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto in all its glory:

A spectre is hustlin Europe — tha spectre of communizzle fo' realz. All tha powerz of oldschool Europe have entered tha fuck into a holy alliance to exorcise dis spectre: Pimp n' Tsar, Metternich n' Guizot, French Radicals n' German five-o-spies.

Owen Jones had posted links to these on twitter, but after reading some of the responses to him, it made me think again:

Matt has a point. Rappers don’t even sound like this anymore. Maybe Snoop Lion (née Snoop Dogg) did back in 1994. And fair enough, if you don’t speak "ghetto", and no one ever mocks or pigeonholes you for not being able to speak “proper”, it makes you giggle.

But do we find mashing up intellectual texts with “rapper speak” funny because the latter is of no worth and sounds stupid? Jeremy Paxman interviewing Dizzee Rascal on Newsnight, anyone? I hate to be po-faced about this, but it’s easy to see why it’s a bit off. It is cringeworthy to see political commentators sharing links to “rap speak” and trying to be down with the kidz; and worse still when you know that it’s just a white web guy using algorithms to generate the translations in the first place.

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BHS is Theresa May’s big chance to reform capitalism – she’d better take it

Almost everyone is disgusted by the tale of BHS. 

Back in 2013, Theresa May gave a speech that might yet prove significant. In it, she declared: “Believing in free markets doesn’t mean we believe that anything goes.”

Capitalism wasn’t perfect, she continued: 

“Where it’s manifestly failing, where it’s losing public support, where it’s not helping to provide opportunity for all, we have to reform it.”

Three years on and just days into her premiership, May has the chance to be a reformist, thanks to one hell of an example of failing capitalism – BHS. 

The report from the Work and Pensions select committee was damning. Philip Green, the business tycoon, bought BHS and took more out than he put in. In a difficult environment, and without new investment, it began to bleed money. Green’s prize became a liability, and by 2014 he was desperate to get rid of it. He found a willing buyer, Paul Sutton, but the buyer had previously been convicted of fraud. So he sold it to Sutton’s former driver instead, for a quid. Yes, you read that right. He sold it to a crook’s driver for a quid.

This might all sound like a ludicrous but entertaining deal, if it wasn’t for the thousands of hapless BHS workers involved. One year later, the business collapsed, along with their job prospects. Not only that, but Green’s lack of attention to the pension fund meant their dreams of a comfortable retirement were now in jeopardy. 

The report called BHS “the unacceptable face of capitalism”. It concluded: 

"The truth is that a large proportion of those who have got rich or richer off the back of BHS are to blame. Sir Philip Green, Dominic Chappell and their respective directors, advisers and hangers-on are all culpable. 

“The tragedy is that those who have lost out are the ordinary employees and pensioners.”

May appears to agree. Her spokeswoman told journalists the PM would “look carefully” at policies to tackle “corporate irresponsibility”. 

She should take the opportunity.

Attempts to reshape capitalism are almost always blunted in practice. Corporations can make threats of their own. Think of Google’s sweetheart tax deals, banks’ excessive pay. Each time politicians tried to clamp down, there were threats of moving overseas. If the economy weakens in response to Brexit, the power to call the shots should tip more towards these companies. 

But this time, there will be few defenders of the BHS approach.

Firstly, the report's revelations about corporate governance damage many well-known brands, which are tarnished by association. Financial services firms will be just as keen as the public to avoid another BHS. Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said that the circumstances of the collapse of BHS were “a blight on the reputation of British business”.

Secondly, the pensions issue will not go away. Neglected by Green until it was too late, the £571m hole in the BHS pension finances is extreme. But Tom McPhail from pensions firm Hargreaves Lansdown has warned there are thousands of other defined benefit schemes struggling with deficits. In the light of BHS, May has an opportunity to take an otherwise dusty issue – protections for workplace pensions - and place it top of the agenda. 

Thirdly, the BHS scandal is wreathed in the kind of opaque company structures loathed by voters on the left and right alike. The report found the Green family used private, offshore companies to direct the flow of money away from BHS, which made it in turn hard to investigate. The report stated: “These arrangements were designed to reduce tax bills. They have also had the effect of reducing levels of corporate transparency.”

BHS may have failed as a company, but its demise has succeeded in uniting the left and right. Trade unionists want more protection for workers; City boys are worried about their reputation; patriots mourn the death of a proud British company. May has a mandate to clean up capitalism - she should seize it.