The First Time I Gave A Shiz About Pizzle
“Hey, mom? Can we get a treat for Miss Elliott?”
That question, lobbed by my daughter on behalf of our sweet blue heeler, was the beginning of a fantastic and alarming linguistic rabbit hole that would lead me to Google, then the urban dictionary, then Snoop Dogg and eventually the New York Times.
And, I’ll admit, it was the first time I ever researched the ingredients of a dog treat. Maybe that’s bad? But now I know a new word, its origin and I have a better appreciation for just how prolific Mr. Broadus is when it comes to the art of slanguage.
The question was as commonplace as it gets. We were rolling past a display of dog goodies and her sweet heart thought of the puppy at home, one that has found satisfaction in digging up oleander roots and gnawing on them. The roots are massive and rugged and look like ginger. And, sometimes she proudly drags them into the house.
So, a chewy treat was in order. “Yes” was my obvious answer. It was, like, a dollar and the oleander root was getting smaller by the day. So she tossed one of those compressed bones into the cart, the one that comes in a cute little braid. Like this:
Looks like every other bone. And Miss Elliott went to town on it. And when we thought to give her the second one we had purchased a couple days later, we did a quick glance at the ingredients. There were only two words.
Beef pizzle? What the shizzle? Fo’ rizzle? You can imagine how long that carried on. For a bit, until our curiosity sent us to Google, where we found this:
So we gave the dog that? What the fizzle?
I immediately wondered if Snoop Dogg’s hallmark slang somehow came from that word, because if we’re being honest, he wasn’t always as prim and proper as he is now – meaning, his crass language from my high school years would never have landed him cooking alongside Martha Stewart, as he does now.
And that curiosity led me to the Times, and a story titled “Izzle,” which delves into the genesis of D-O-Double-G’s trademark slang. The story mentioned how Another Bad Creation (a group I remember singing along to) actually used funky suffixes as early as 1991 when they rapped about “chillin’ in the pizzark…” The story goes on to say that Snoop actually takes credit for bringing the “izzle” into the mainstream, but notes that its use had been around Northern California for years.
See what happens? I jumped from a dog treat to a totally unexpected lesson on rap music’s influence on modern-day slang. But, I’m not so sure that the ingredients on the label of a dog treat employ slang. Wikipedia tells me it’s an old English word. It’s just funny that it plays right into the slang formula, isn’t it?
It’s just funny, period. Any way you slice it. And now that I know the meaning of the word, I feel bad saying "pizzle" and "slice" in the same sentence. I had no idea. But, now I do. So, Miss Elliott will probably just stick to the oleander root for now.