Lolcatese — is it becoming the new internet pidgin? Perhaps first exclusively written language? Lolcatese is named after the acronym LOL, which is Textese for “laughing out loud.” Textese is a thing distinct from Lolcatese. The purpose of Textese is to transmit the message with the fewest number of keystrokes. Lolcatese and Textese have similar ancestry, but Lolcatese seems to be evolving into a separate language all its own, complete with grammar and spelling conventions, and even pronunciation hints, although Lolcatese is primarily a written language. I’m not sure where the “cat” part comes in.
Non English influence: A lot of people blog, post to forums and social network in English when it’s not their native tongue. Their systematic grammatical errors become part of the patois when the meaning is sufficiently clear. Native speakers start to use these “errors” as well, either just to fit in, or as a shorthand. Grammar police do not take Lolcatese seriously as a language — such is the fate of pidgins,patois’ and creoles in general. But socio-linguists do, because they know that historically, a major world language, (English, for example,) might emerge from some unlikely low-class cobbled-together pidgin between Norman and Anglo-Saxon. We may be forced to contend with Lolcatese, and with the speed at which things move on the internet, it may be sooner than any of us imagine!
Students of grammar may note that in Lolcatese
- articles are gone
- the words “to” and “for” are replaced by digits,
- pronoun case is generally done away with — “she” turns to “her”, for example
- deliberate mispellings are derived from common typos, such as “teh” for “the”
- verb conjugation (as if verbs in English weren’t simple enough already) is simplified,
- verbs of being disappear and are simply implied and understood as in Russion or ebonic.
- some respellings are non-typo based, but pronunciation based, such as “iz” for “is”
- snowclone expressions based on gamer-speak or other popular culture are common
u suk stumbla… reada… friend… n surfa… i beg ur indulgence just thiz once. permit me 2 take break frm providin u high qualitee dorkage that u come 2 take 4 grantd n let off major bitchy rant. if i don’t do thiz i’m goin 2 blow gasket!!??!! wtf causin my consternation??! rampant mediocritee!!??!! basicalli i iz fed up wit sucky bl0g. why do we put up wit sucky bl0g??! in theory free market darwinism would cause them 2 witha away… so i can onli venture guess that there iz stil need 4 education on just wtf constitutez sucky bl0g. perhap u aren’t so confident bl0g connoisseur. if not… please allow experienced dork 2 educate u.
how do u know if ur bl0g suckz??! sum cluez….
- uninvitd music: u play ur choice uv music when page load without askin my permission. how do u know i’m not playin sum otha music or that my famili not fast asleep??! ur music mite b grate but that not point. when u inflict it on me without askin permission u has just demonstratd that u r rude person n i wil close ur bl0g immediateli n ban it.
- bloatware: ur bloatware bl0g load so….slow…. forget it… i’m history. i don’t wait 4 bl0g unless i alreddy know they worth wait. put it on diet 4 heaven sake!!??!!
- traila trash= see bloatware …
As a language, Lolcatese has a certain appeal. It’s easier to learn than English, and it seems to be the lingua franca of the internet for social communication. The young will bring it forward with them as they age into the mainstream of society. It will infiltrate first to international trade, music and sports, then gradually the rest of society(ies) will catch up. In as little as another generation, there will be youngsters born who write Lolcatese before English. For these people it will be their mother tongue as far as written languages go, and they will push its expressive power as it graduates from becoming a written pidgin (written by no one natively) to a written creole (a pidgin derived language that acquires native writers over time). Will people’s writing backwash and influence their spoken language? That remains to be seen. Perhaps we will have a generation of dialectical bilinguals such as the Germans or the Chinese, where everyone writes a standard dialect but everyone speaks a specific dialect, which can be almost unintelligible to the other dialects.
Prediction for the future: Your grandchildren will receive high school diplomas written in a recognized and formalized evolved version of Lolcatese, especially if you are from an emerging country that is broken into a lot of dialects and needs something to standardize on.