Bling Bling

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In linguistic terms, "bling" is an ideophone (a sound intended to evoke an idea)—it is not onomatopoeia, because the act of jewelry shining does not make a sound. The form "bling-bling" is a case of reduplication.

Coinage of the term "bling", which came into use in the late 1990s, is often attributed to rap artists B.G. and Cash Money Millionaires. It was used in a song title by Cash Money Records rapper B.G., and in 1998 by fellow Cash Money artist Lil Wayne on the track "Millionaire Dream" ("I got ten around my neck, and baguettes on my wrist, Bling!"), which appeared on the Big Tymers album How Ya Luv That. "Bling Bling", a track from the 1999 B.G. album Chopper City in the Ghetto, further popularized the term.

The use of the phrase became popular, as seen in the skywriting advertisement over this New York summer resort destination of Southampton in 2006.Though B.G. is often given credit for creating the term, as early as the 1970s, television commercials for dental products and chewing gum accentuated the cleanliness of teeth with a "bling" or "pling" sound, accompanied by an imaginary starburst or ray of light emanating from an actor's mouth. During the early 1980s, toothpaste maker Ultra Brite ran a series of commercials stating, "Ultrabrite gives your mouth...[pling]...sex appeal!" Before the words "sex appeal," a bell sound was heard as a young man smiled while kisses were blown at him. During the 1980s and early 1990s, comedians such as Martin Lawrence parodied the "Ultrabrite smile" by vocalizing the sound effect as "bling". The term was used in this way to describe a gaudy piece of jewelry, for example the otherwise rotten gold-toothed smile and stereotypical pimp jewelry of the character "Jerome" on the television series Martin.

While the specific term bling was first popularized in the hip hop community, it has spread beyond hip hop culture and into mass culture. The term was added to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in 2002 and to...
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