bou(r)ghetto (was Re: Hooah !)

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Wed Aug 10 19:39:00 UTC 2005

Sigh! A fellow of my degree of maturity ofttimes fails to be as alert
as he should be. I must have had a senior moment. I'm usually
hyper-alert to anything that relates to St. louis. I'm proud of my
Texas birth, but Nellyville is my hometown.

I have no real idea as to why native Texans consider that being a Texan
is something special, but there it is. Perhaps God merely means this
attitude as a counterweight to the hubris of the native New-Yorker.


On Aug 10, 2005, at 3:14 PM, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU>
> Subject:      bou(r)ghetto (was Re: Hooah !)
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> On Thu, 4 Aug 2005 02:56:03 -0400, Wilson Gray wrote:
>> On Aug 4, 2005, at 12:58 AM, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>>> That's taken from a collection of teen/hiphop slang compiled by
>>> Oakland high school teacher Mark Frey. Here's the full list:
>> I checked the list through a couple of the C's. Most were new to me,
>> but some of them are two days older than water.
> I was expecting Wilson to pick up on this one, since there's a St.
> Louis
> connection...
> -----
> Booghetto
> Pronounced "boojetto." Trying to look rich and ghetto at the same time.
> Possibly from the Lunatics.
> -----
> "Lunatics" here refers to the St. Lunatics, a rap collective from St.
> Louis formed in 1993 that includes Ali, Nelly, City Spud, Kyjuan, and
> Murphy Lee. Ali released a song entitled "Boughetto" in early 2002 --
> as
> the lyrics explain, "She boughetto, that mean she bourgeois and
> ghetto."
> -----
> St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 20 Jan 2002, p. G1 (Nexis/Factiva)
> Ali's first single is called "Boughetto." ... The term "Boughetto" was
> coined by Kyjuan and pokes fun at people who are "half bougie, half
> ghetto, someone with a lake, pool and Jacuzzi but (who) still goes to
> McDonald's and a movie," says Ali, referencing a lyric in the song. "An
> expensive hair weave is boughetto."
> -----
> Riverfront Times (St. Louis), 24 Apr 2002 (Proquest)
> The first single, "Boughetto," isn't just a celebration of conspicuous
> consumption -- although it certainly works that way, in a superficial
> sense. One part sociological commentary, one part "Pass the
> Courvoisier,"
> "Boughetto" betrays an ironic self-awareness largely absent from the
> other
> Lunatics' work. The word itself, which Ali first heard used by fellow
> Lunatic Kyjuan, is a portmanteau composed of "bourgeois" and "ghetto"
> --
> ebonics for "nouveau riche" or "parvenu," if you will, but with a less
> judgmental connotation. "Once we started living boughetto," Ali
> explains
> with a self-deprecating chuckle, "that's when we really started saying
> it
> all the time. So many things are ghetto and bougie in my life right
> now.
> I've got, like, so many shoes! They're all Nikes and stuff -- it's
> totally
> ghetto. The bougie part of it is how many different styles there are --
> it's crazy to have that many shoes."
> -----
> After the success of Ali's single, the proprietor of a now-defunct
> website
> with the domain name tried to claim trademark
> infringement.
> But he didn't file a trademark petition until Mar. 2002:
> -----
> Serial Number: 76389299
> Current Status: Abandoned: A petition to revive has been denied.
> Filing Date: 2002-03-27
> websites, books, music and apparel catering to African Americans who
> feel
> in between two cultures of bourgeois and ghetto
> -----
> More on the trademark dispute here (needless to say, it went nowhere):
> Fellow St. Lunatic Nelly continued to popularize "bou(r)ghetto", and he
> used it in his 2004 hit "Work It":
> "It's like you ghetto ghetto, she bourghetto zhetto."
> (Other lyrics sites transcribe this as "boojhetto jhetto" or even
> "brougetto ghetto".)
> Here are two definitions from 2004 -- one from the _Philadelphia
> Weekly_
> and one from the _Berkeley High School Slang Dictionary_:
> -----
> Philadelphia Weekly, Apr. 14, 2004
> Best word of 2004, so far (other than "wardrobe malfunction"):
> bourghetto.
> Pronunciation: "büzh-'e-tO"
> Function: Adjective.
> Etymology: A hybrid of bourgeois (a concern for material interests; a
> tendency toward mediocrity dominated by commercial interests) and
> ghetto
> (sector in which members of a minority group live because of social or
> economic pressure; also middle-class slang for cool, hip).
> Usage: "Beyoncé is so bourghetto."
> First heard: Reeaaally late at night, I think on BET.
> -----
> Berkeley High School Slang Dictionary, edited by Rick Ayers (2004)
> Bourghetto (boo-JHET-oh) adj., Combination word made from bourgeois and
> ghetto. Described by Barry Ronge of _South African Sunday Times_
> (12/3/2003) as "rich, middle-class African American hipsters who cling
> to
> street style and street music, affecting the pose of the ghetto, while
> they are living an 'Oreo-cookie' Park Avenue lifestyle."
> [Origin, Bloggers, also Rap stars Nelly and Ali].
> -----
> --Ben Zimmer

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