In language usage there are two schools of thought that are often at odds with one another. There is the Descriptivist camp or “liberal” side of the usage wars and generally describe how language is used, particularly in speech. They basically believe language is constantly changing and words are defined by their usage. This is your friend who uses the word “gay” as interchangeable with “stupid”. After all, gay used to be happy. Shit changes son. Language is as it’s used.
On the other side is the Presciptivist camp which aims to establish the standard language and provides rules for normative use. They like rules. These are the grammar nazi’s running around the internet. This is your friend that, apropos of nothing, has as status update regarding their/they’re/there.
These are extremely simplified explanations of these linguistic ideologies. For a much more comprehensive, smarter, and (believe it or not) funnier look at the usage wars; go here and read the essay “Tense Present” by David Foster Wallace.
Done yet? No? Look, you can just skim over it or book mark it and… you know what?
Since the first adolescent caveman–in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary–told his mother she was gay when she forbade him to go T-Rex hunting with his idiot friends, language has been misused (Prescriptivist) or adapted (Descriptivist). It’s not surprising that the term “cray” or “kray”, which entered Teh Internetz (single dropped Sept. 2011, yo) either recently (actual time) or for-fucking-evar ago (internet time) has been treated like the world’s largest frat garage. Bro, it’s a garage! Naw, brah, it’s a pool hall! It’s a bedroom! It’s a dance club! It’s the Colossus of Beer-Pongia! It’s a toilet! It’s the control room of the Enterprise (there’s gotta be a nerd frat right?) It’s a workshop! It’s the Hazing-That-Shall-Not-Speak-It’s-Name-But-Involves-Poo Room! It’s everything and anything and thus nothing.
Don’t worry cybernauts, SA is here to help. But first, we have to figure out what exactly Kanye meant. To Teh Internetz, muhfuckas!
Here’s the lyric:
Ball so hard muhfuckas wanna fine me
That shit cray [x3]
She said Ye can we get married at the mall?
I said look you need to crawl ‘fore you ball
Come and meet me in the bathroom stall
And show me why you deserve to have it all
(Ball so hard) That shit cray, ain’t it Jay?
(Ball, ball so hard) What she order (what she order), fish filet
On first look, it’s obvi. Cray is crazy. Done and done. I’ll just do a quick Google search to make sure and we take this horse to the glue factory.
Hold on. Not so fast according to VladTV and the official Kanye discussion forum. Kanye is actually referencing notorious mobsters the Kray twins of London who were adept at evading police (and, presumably, balling). Thus the line about the muhfuckers and the finding.
A-ha! We’ve been wrong all this time. If anything…
Now here’s where we run into the descriptivist/prescriptivist problem though. According to the authority (Ye), the rule is that it refers to somebody that is balling out of control and difficult to locate. In practice though, it’s been used almost exclusively as a short-hand for crazy. It’s a conundrum that Kanye does little to un-muddle by then referring to restroom sexual escapades as being cray as well. In this sense we can agree that he means crushing ass in a stall is cray and not kray. But who knows? The guy’s a lyrical enigma.
And then he drops the line about fish filet and all bets are off. My own thought is that this is definitely cray as the fish filet is either a crayfish reference (and a screwy one at that (thus cray(!)) or the chick is definitely cray if she’s out with Ye and orders a Filet O’ Fish. If Kimmy K. can get lunch from a Pizza Goat approved restaurant, bathroom skeezers should at least get fast casz. Chili’s or Applebee’s or some shit.
Unfortunately for the prescriptivist, it appears that in the real world, cray is short for crazy about 99.33 (repeating, of course) percent of the time. So we’ll use that as our definition. Now let’s see some examples:
“At one point, teasing to a spot about Beyonce’s new baby, Rose said the blessed event ‘has been called a huge Twitter topic that Twitter friends have been tweeting.’ That sort of techie malapropism drives the young folks cray cray”
-From a Washington Post article discussing CBS This Morning
Stiff and repetitive use of tech terms is irritating but does not rise to the level of cray much less the rarely justified cray cray double (used here with a wink and a nudge by the reporter).
Verdict: That shit is not cray.
First, I know. The Situation has an infotainment blog that is somehow worse than you are currently imagining. It deserves it’s own post and it will get one in the near future but let’s not get sidetracked here. As you’ve no doubt noticed, one of their sub-headings is That Shit Cray (not to be confused with their other sub-headings WTF or LOL or UMM or AWW or HMM). The bar for what is categorized cray on this website is ill-defined at best. Come to think of it, I can’t fathom what the guidelines are for what goes in HMM vs. UMM. LOL is self-explanatory. I assume AWW is the clearinghouse for cat related shit but after that I’m baffled. Is UMM the stepping stone to WTF? Which is cray-er: WTF or That Shit Cray?
Verdict: In spite of the sub-headings, that shit is so emphatically not cray that we should pursue litigation.
Verdict: That shit cray.
Now, let’s go where the real pulse of Teh Internetz is: Twitter. If it’s being used correctly anywhere, it’s here.
Oh Sash, you are never going to trend on Twitter with that many o’s in oops. Oops is a terrible hashtag because it is so open to interpretation spelling-wise. Who’s managing your social media Sash? This shit ain’t cray, it’s poor strategy.
Verdict: Coursework shit is inherently not cray.
This could have used a little editing for clarity. I’m assuming he’s disparaging the gays but he might be referring to health maintenance organizations.
Verdict: If it’s the former shit=not cray. If it’s the latter shit=not cray either but it would have made for one hell of a Horse ebooks tweet.
Ball so hard muhfuckas want activity fees.
But first thing they gotta fine me.
What’s fifty grand to muthafuckin’ FSU?
Would you please remind me?
Verdict: School related shit still not cray.
I’ve been staring at this tweet for 22 minutes and I still have no idea what is being communicated. It’s in response to a tweet that says, “If you’re not retarded, you’re not fun!!” so no help there. They did use the correct form of you’re 4 times in a row.
Verdict: Not sure if that shit cray or that shit not cray.
I read this one a few times to make sure I wasn’t doing that thing where you read something the way you assume it reads and then find out that it really says, “I have a really huge big dirk.” Ha-ha sucker! You read that as dick. Bunch a H-Mo’s.
The real kicker here is that @Jer_bare turns it around so that it’s the peeps who are actin’ strange and not the person (presumably @Jer_bare) who released hundreds of armadillos in a McDonald’s.
Verdict: That shit cray.
And with I’d like to ask you all to go out and search twitter for people using and (preferably) misusing “cray”. Put them in the comments below and I’ll pick the best one and feature it on Tuesday. Oh and extra points for tweets that use it correctly (e.g. Kray) and aren’t just a tweet saying, “If you listen to the lyrics kray isn’t short for crazy. #knowledge.” In fact, you will be lose one point for any tweets that contain #knowledge.
Have a cray cray weekend. Unless you’re not cray. In which case you’re not cray. (What does that mean?)