You might as well admit it. You have used Lolspeak at least once. You might even be using it regularly. I think some people find using Lolspeak convenient when they want to come off as cute or cool, but that could be just me. While it is amusing to read those captions on silly pictures of cats (or dogs, if you prefer them), I just realized that it can be irritating to hear an adult resorting to Lolspeak all the time.
But that’s just me! Just because I feel that way does not mean that Lolspeak is not a “language” worthy of close inspection. As I like saying, language is dynamic, and Lolspeak is simply one of the paths language has taken, thanks to the Internet.
Would you believe that a thesis for the Master of Arts in The Interdepartmental Program in Linguistics actually focused on Lolspeak and took it apart for analysis? I say it’s brilliant! In December 2011, Jordan Lefler of Louisiana State University submitted her thesis. She begins her work with the definition of Lolspeak, which I assume you all know by heart. For clarity’s sake, here is a snippet from the abstract:
Lolspeak, which I characterize as an internet dialect of English that is used in
conjunction with images of cats, exhibits distinctive variations and patterns which differ from
those of standard English. Lolspeak has influenced other language use and may have a
significant impact on the English language, due in part to the internet‟s role in the evolution of
The thesis examines the following questions:
- Why is it important to observe this form of English?
- What purpose do Lolcats and Lolspeak serve?
- Why does Lolspeak orthography differ from that standard English?
- Is Lolspeak really part of Netspeak as I suggested above, or something else? Is it really an invented dialect?
- Could we take seriously the suggestions that Lolspeak is a “kitty pidgin” as suggested by Anil Dash, as though Lolspeak had arisen between English and the language of cats?
Image via I Can Has Cheezburger?