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.

Paul McMillan
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"We're an easy target": how a Tory manifesto pledge will tear families apart

Under current rules, bringing your foreign spouse to the UK is a luxury reserved for those earning £18,600 a year or more. The Tories want to make it even more exclusive. 

Carolyn Matthew met her partner, George, in South Africa sixteen years ago. She settled down with him, had kids, and lived like a normal family until last year, when they made the fateful decision to move to her hometown in Scotland. Matthew, 55, had elderly parents, and after 30 years away from home she wanted to be close to them. 

But Carolyn nor George - despite consulting a South African immigration lawyer – did not anticipate one huge stumbling block. That is the rule, introduced in 2012, that a British citizen must earn £18,600 a year before a foreign spouse may join them in the UK. 

“It is very dispiriting,” Carolyn said to me on the telephone from Bo’ness, a small town on the Firth of Forth, near Falkirk. “In two weeks, George has got to go back to South Africa.” Carolyn, who worked in corporate complaints, has struggled to find the same kind of work in her hometown. Jobs at the biggest local employer tend to be minimum wage. George, on the other hand, is an engineer – yet cannot work because of his holiday visa. 

To its critics, the minimum income threshold seems nonsensical. It splits up families – including children from parents – and discriminates against those likely to earn lower wages, such as women, ethnic minorities and anyone living outside London and the South East. The Migration Observatory has calculated that roughly half Britain’s working population would not meet the requirement. 

Yet the Conservative party not only wishes to maintain the policy, but hike the threshold. The manifesto stated:  “We will increase the earnings thresholds for people wishing to sponsor migrants for family visas.” 

Initially, the threshold was justified as a means of preventing foreign spouses from relying on the state. But tellingly, the Tory manifesto pledge comes under the heading of “Controlling Immigration”. 

Carolyn points out that because George cannot work while he is visiting her, she must support the two of them for months at a time without turning to state aid. “I don’t claim benefits,” she told me. “That is the last thing I want to do.” If both of them could work “life would be easy”. She believes that if the minimum income threshold is raised any further "it is going to make it a nightmare for everyone".

Stuart McDonald, the SNP MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, co-sponsored a Westminster Hall debate on the subject earlier this year. While the Tory manifesto pledge is vague, McDonald warns that one option is the highest income threshold suggested in 2012 - £25,700, or more than the median yearly wage in the East Midlands. 

He described the current scheme as “just about the most draconian family visa rules in the world”, and believes a hike could affect more than half of British citizens. 

"Theresa May is forcing people to choose between their families and their homes in the UK - a choice which most people will think utterly unfair and unacceptable,” he said.  

For those a pay rise away from the current threshold, a hike will be demoralising. For Paul McMillan, 25, it is a sign that it’s time to emigrate.

McMillan, a graduate, met his American girlfriend Megan while travelling in 2012 (the couple are pictured above). He could find a job that will allow him to meet the minimum income threshold – if he were not now studying for a medical degree.  Like Matthew, McMillan’s partner has no intention of claiming benefits – in fact, he expects her visa would specifically ban her from doing so. 

Fed up with the hostile attitude to immigrants, and confident of his options elsewhere, McMillan is already planning a career abroad. “I am going to take off in four years,” he told me. 

As for why the Tories want to raise the minimum income threshold, he thinks it’s obvious – to force down immigration numbers. “None of this is about the amount of money we need to earn,” he said. “We’re an easy target for the government.”

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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