The Enregisterment of Esh in Global Beatboxing Culture

Singh, Jaspal and Campbell, Cameron (2022). The Enregisterment of Esh in Global Beatboxing Culture. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 32(2) pp. 408–430.



Esh is an emblematic word and sound in global beatboxing culture. It may have developed from the vocal mimicry of a sound of a snare drum or it may have derived from multicultural youth slang in France. What is clear is that esh is now widely recognized and used as a lexicalized sound to humorously index cultural identity alignments, for example taking a stance of affirmative evaluation, greeting and identifying other beatboxers. We show in this article how beatboxers perform, narrativize and mediatize the interactive functions and cultural indexicalities of esh. This enregisterment, we argue, is schizophonic, i.e. esh is indexically anchored in a mimetic shapeshifting between humans and machines.

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