LOLCats to get their own dictionary?
Anil Dash, analyzer of contemporary culture, wrote a really great article a couple years back on his blog about LOLCats grammar that I recalled recently as I was introducing my girlfriend the classic ICanHasCheezburger.com. If you, like my gardening girlfriend, aren’t up on your internet memes, LOLCats are those ubiquitous photos of kittehs looking pissed, riding invisible bikes, wearing fruit as hats, and describing it all in their own unique take on the English language.
Dash’s article introduced the idea that LOLCat-speak is actually a pidgin language on its way to becoming a creole. A creole is a stable language that originates from the combination of various other languages. One theory for how (or why) a creole might develop describes how a group of people will simplify their language to make it more understandable to a non-native speaker. Over time, this simplification is taken by the non-native speakers to be the legitimate version of the language. This theory, known as Foreigner Talk (or Baby Talk), seems easy to apply to the LOLCat dialect. One imagines the cats of the world digesting the way most people speak to them and spitting it back out as LOLCat — eventually resulting in the creole of English that they speak on da internetz. Its funny to project real-world linguistic theories onto Internet jokes, but it’s a useful model in helping one understand how languages develop in the real world. Check out this video of Anil describing his original article and the amusing effect it has had on his career.