Thursday, February 07, 2008


It appears that many people didn't get the LOLKramer reference posted yesterday. I thought about deleting the post, but since there was already a comment on it, I'm leaving it alone. So instead I'll give a brief explanation to those who don't know about LolCats because they spend less than 12 hours a day in front of their computer as I do.

From the Wikipedia Article:

'...Lolcat is a term used to describe an image combining a photograph of an animal, most frequently a cat, with a subjectively humorous and idiosyncratic caption in broken English referred to as Kitty Pidgin, Kitteh, or lolspeak. The idea originated on 4chan imageboards as Caturday. The name "lolcat" is a compound word of "lol" [laughing out loud - ed.] and "cat".The phenomenon is also referred to as cat macros. Lolcats are created for photo sharing imageboards and other internet forums. Lolcats are similar to other anthropomorphic animal-based image macros such as the O RLY? owl, and the term is often used as a catchall for images of the same genre which may or may not feature cats...

...These images usually consist of a photo of a cat with a large caption characteristically formatted in an uppercase sans serif font such as Impact or Arial Black. The image is, on occasion, digitally edited for effect. The caption generally acts as a speech balloon encompassing a comment from the cat, or as a description of the depicted scene. The caption is intentionally written with deviations from standard English spelling and syntax, featuring "strangely-conjugated verbs, but [a tendency] to converge to a new set of rules in spelling and grammar." These altered rules of English have been referred to as a type of pidgin or baby talk. The text parodies the grammar-poor patois stereotypically attributed to Internet slang. Frequently, lolcat captions take the form of snowclones in which nouns and verbs are replaced in a phrase. Some phrases have a known source while others seem to be specific to the lolcat form...'

The famous site for Lolcats is But the truly bizarre site under development is the Wiki project that is translating the entire Bible into Lolcat. The above phrase I superimposed onto Jesus in accordance with the graphic rules of Lolcat is Matthew 5:17-20.

Clearly this is all about people having too much time on their hands, and not enough imagination to spend volunteering it somewhere. But it is fascinating to me from the one respect of watching the development of a cohesive language grammar. The rules for Lolcat were developed in a very short period of time in the same way that all languages were - organically through a community. A community of computer geeks, true, but a community nonetheless, and its development is progressing in the exact same way that other pidgins have developed: ground-up; from the Hawaiian Creole English (a mash of native languages, English, Tagalog, Japanese and other languages resulting from a surge in immigration at the turn of the last century) to even Klingon (originally invented in outline by a linguist for the first Star Trek movie, but developed and massively expanded by a large coterie of fans.)