Britain's judges have been flummoxed by such terms of common parlance as "Gazza", "Oasis" and "Teletubby", so it was hardly likely that Mr Justice Lewison would be able to decipher the phrase "shizzle my nizzle".
After hours of trawling for a translation on the internet, the High Court judge admitted defeat yesterday, saying the words were "for practical purposes a foreign language". A web search by The Independent showed the most likely contender to be "for sure, my brother", although other suggestions on a website called urbandictionary.com revealed more anatomically challenging possibilities.
The expression had been used as a lyric in a UK garage tune that Mr Justice Lewison was obliged to listen to as part of a claim for damages.
Andrew Alcee, a composer, had complained that his work "Burnin" had been "distorted or mutilated" by its use as backing on an album by the collective Heartless Crew, which added lyrics such as "mish mish man" and "shizzle my nizzle".
In an effort to determine whether such terms were references to drugs and violence, as alleged, the judge repeatedly played the record at half speed. But to no avail.
He said the damages claim had "led to the faintly surreal experience of three gentlemen in horsehair wigs [himself and the two barristers in the case] examining the meaning of such phrases as 'mish mish man' and 'shizzle my nizzle'." "Mish mish man" is a Jamaican expression of homophobic abuse.
The judge said a fundamental weakness in the case was that the court had no evidence about Mr Alcee's honour or reputation or of any prejudice caused. He said he had seen a video of Ant'ill Mob, of which Mr Alcee was a member, dressed as 1930s gangsters.
He dismissed Mr Alcee's damages claim against East West Records, a division of Warner Music UK, which used "Burnin'' on Heartless Crew's album Crisp Biscuit.
In another case, Mr Justice Harman asked, "Who is Gazza?" when he refused to grant the footballer Paul Gascoigne an injunction to halt an unauthorised biography in 1990. In 1996 the same judge had not heard of the pop group Oasis.
Judge Francis Aglionby asked what a Teletubby was in a 1999 court case and Judge Hubert Dunn QC claimed in 2001 that he had never heard of the Brazilian football star Pele.Reuse content