The rise of lolcat

May 14, 2007

I can has grammars???

I admit it. I’m addicted to lolcats. I love the damn things, stupid as they are. What I didn’t realize is how much information is already out on the tubenet on the grammar of lolcats.

A little background:

Lolcats are a fairly recent internet meme involving the captioning of cute or stupid pictures of cats with cute, stupid, poorly-spelled phrases. My favorite site for this good-natured idiocy is I Can Has Cheezburger?

Even though the grammar and spelling on all these pictures is unquestionably mangled, there is some sort of structure. Anil Dash has coined the term “kitty pidgin” to describe lolcat grammar, and claims that “it’s possible to get cat-speak wrong.” I wholeheartedly agree; though I’m not nearly good enough to come up with clear kitty pidgin rules, I know bad kidgin when I see it. Dash’s idea has been picked up by sources like Table of Malcontents, a Wired blog, so the idea must have some sort of merit.

Dash goes on to say that “someday we’ll have kitty pidgin dictionaries. Perhaps we’ll even get all the niceties that Klingon and Elmer Fudd-speak enjoy, like a Google translation, a Microsoft Word dictionary, or a cat-native version of the Bible or Shakespeare.” This I must disagree with, because kitty pidgin, like so many other “dialects” on the ‘Net, is always morphing. There are rules that must be followed now, but those rules could be different in a year–or a month.

For now, the rules are fairly simple. Here are some, as laid out in this ICHC post:
Misuse gerunds
Overuse prepositional phrases
Blatant rearrangement of syntax
Misspell everything. There’s no wrong way to do this…

Okay, so the rules are a little loose. And to put this back in perspective, remember we’re still talking about dumb (but oh-so-cute) cat macros on the internet.

But are they so dumb? Another post on ICHC argues otherwise:

Consider how difficult is its for computers to identify faces. Consider how confirmation keys are now images so computers can’t understand what is being communicated. Consider the new confirmation keys where a series of images are displayed and the user must pick which one of these is not like the other. Computers have a terrible time with this kind of task.

Communication through images is a powerful way to pass complex ideas back and forth.

After the analysis of the image macro’s importance in communication, the post breaks down into a sort of fun-sucking “explanation” of different subspecies of lolcats, something one could probably skip if inclined. The point: Is the image macro perhaps the perfect form of communication?






3 Responses to “The rise of lolcat”

  1. elfinugget Says:

    Well, this is clearly “I has a bukkit”. LOL! :D Thank you for your link!

  2. […] The rise of lolcat « A Like Affair With Words Technorati tags: LolCat, TechEd Published Tuesday, June 12, 2007 8:02 PM by frankarr Filed under: geek, Microsoft TechEd […]

  3. […] The rise of lolcat : A Like Affair With Words Technorati tags: LolCat, TechEd […]

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