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Laugh-Out-Loud-Speak, academic Konklushuns

kitty pidgin 01Since their mainstream emergence online circa 2006/2007, LOLcats (Laugh Out Loud Cats) have afforded an abundance of amusing annotated amateur artistry. Although it took some years to attract the attention of serious academic investigators, the unusual form of linguistic construction used by the LOLcat community – now known as ‘LOLspeak’ – has at last been carefully examined, catalogued and analysed in several scholarly works. Three of which we profile(z) below.

Example [1]

I can haz language play: The construction of language and identity in LOLspeak

– by Doctoral students Lauren Gawne and Jill Vaughan from the School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Melbourne, Australia. (published in the Proceedings of the 42nd Australian Linguistic Society Conference – 2011). Despite that fact that some have dismissed LOLcats as “The stupidest possible creative act” (Shirky 2010, quoted in Miltner 2011:9), nevertheless, say the authors : “LOLspeak is a complex and systematic reimagining of the English language.” In particular, the paper examines the resources provided by the online LOLcat Bible, and conclude :

“kthxbai! Srsly
LOLspeakers show high levels of competence at simultaneously playing with multiple linguistic processes (implicating orthography and phonetics, morphology, syntax, clauses) and we believe that an examination of these processes will provide an important contribution to our understanding of language play, and of creative linguistic endeavours more generally.”

Example [2]

Lolcats and Lolspeak: the importance of the Internet culture for English professionals

– by Eduarda Abrahão de los Santos of the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), Brazil. (published in Brazilian English Language Teaching Journal (BELT), Vol 3, No 1, 2012, 62-76)

This paper goes to the lengths of providing a glossary of LOLspeak :“To make the glossary, twenty two Lolcat macros from the site  were transcribed and then translated into orthographically correct English.” Finding, for example : Sebben = seven, Puhleeze = please, and Veelowsor raptor = velociraptor. And noting that :

“Lolcats and Lolspeak, as well as the whole meme culture, deserve more attention from language professionals. The advantages of the use of Lolspeak, as described in this article, are various, and the potential researches on Lolcats and Lolspeak are many. Linguists and teachers should not ignore this fresh and inexhaustible source for research and study, as it can help them in many ways.”

Example [3]

Iz in ur meme / aminalizin teh langwich: A linguistic study of LOLcats

– by Aliza Rosen of Goucher College, Baltimore, Maryland, US. (published in Verge, issue 7) In which the author performed a unique experiment whereby a passage from Wikipedia (about cats) was auto-translated by and (now apparently offline). The results were then compared with the original passage, and contrasted with other modern pidgin languages.

“While it can be argued that ‘kitty pidgin’ is the contact language adopted by cats in order to communicate with humans, further investigation shows a lacking correlation between LOLspeak and the prototypical pidgin language.”

And, to sum up :

“In konklushun, teh LOLkitteh speach is, liek Becky Hogge writed, “a rich source of material for linguistic analysis” (Hogge 52). Teh influence of Leetspeak, and rezemblins to baybeh talk and pidgin langwichez, iz strawng. Dis iz perhaps cuz teh kittehz nevar supozd to leev teh hauz, so dey haz lotz of interakshun wif baybehz, teh peeps hoo speekz to teh baybehz, an compootr geekz, awl of wich iz moastly resurvded foar teh domesstik settin. Oar, iz possibul teh LOLspeak poak fun at, bai exaggerashun, dat teh kittehz iz treeteded an speakd to liek childrinz.”


The LOLcat image here (which, intriguingly, does not feature LOLspeak) “I QUESTION THE BASIC ASSUMPTION THAT FELINES ARE INHERENTLY DEFICIENT IN THE AREA OF GRAMMAR AND SENTENCE STRUCTURE” featuring in studies [1] and [3] also appears in several other complementary (or possibly complimentary) variants : Exhibit aExhibit b

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