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Cats Can Has Grammar [Image macro]
blog ^ | April 23, 2007 | Anil Dash

Posted on 04/28/2007 7:50:46 PM PDT by Daffynition

If you spend any time at all observing net culture, then you'll have been unable to miss the recent explosion in popularity of lolcats. This relatively recent phenomenon is the convention of taking pictures of cute animals, most frequently cats, and overlaying absurdist captions on the images.

The core behavior has existed for some time; "Image macro" is a generic term for this kind of folk art, and cats have always featured heavily in these types of Internet in-jokes. But a few distinct categories have sprung up that have helped amplify and popularize the phenomenon.

The rise of these new subspecies of lolcats are particularly interesting to me because "I can has cheezeburger?" has a fairly consistent grammar. I wasn't sure this was true until I realized that it's possible to get cat-speak wrong.

Incorrect kitty pidgin jumped to my attention the first time I saw a reference to Dune being used with a lolcat image. The caption on the linked version of the image, "The spice must flow." is fine, if not particularly cat-like. But the caption on the version I saw first was much more verbose: "I are dunecat. I controls the spice, I controls the universe." Besides being an awkward attempt at overexplaining the punchline (I've never read Dune or seen the film, but the joke is obvious) this was just all wrong. The fact that we can tell no cat would talk like this shows that kitty pidgin is actually quite consistent.

Kitty Pidgin

I was having a conversation with Ben and Ben a few weeks ago where I suggested this consistent grammar for lolcats could be a "cweeole". Knowing a bit more about such things now, I realize this isn't a creole but more likely a pidgin language, used to help cats talk to humans. And since "pidgin" is already a cutesy spelling of a mispronunciation, there doesn't seem to be any really cute way to rename it to reflect its uniqueness. "Kitty pidgin" might be the closest thing we have to a name for this new language.

There's a consistent visual vocabulary to the construct, as well. If it ain't Impact or Arial Black or some other nondescript sans serif font, it ain't lolcat. White letters with a black outline are a must. But codifying a design guide for lolcats is well beyond my abilities.

Unfortunately, the evolution of these grammars online can be very difficult to track down; This kind of nascent web culture is generally frowned upon by Wikipedia (witness the deletion of the I'm in ur base article since the Ask MetaFilter thread just a few months ago) and there are no other sites designed to collect definitive collaborative reference material. It's going to take time to document kitty pidgin with any degree of accuracy.

I've just started bouncing the idea of kitty pidgin off of Erin and Grant, two of my favorite word experts, but I'm confident 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.

I has a links

Okay, go out and look at some of the finest kitty-related content:



TOPICS: Hobbies
KEYWORDS: kitty; lolcat
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1 posted on 04/28/2007 7:50:47 PM PDT by Daffynition
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To: rainbow sprinkles
LOL!!

I'm helping it come up dear! ;-)

2 posted on 04/28/2007 7:51:53 PM PDT by Pyro7480 ("Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus" -St. Ralph Sherwin's last words at Tyburn)
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To: rainbow sprinkles
Cat Caption:

I can't take this fool of a human anywhere!

3 posted on 04/28/2007 8:02:33 PM PDT by LibKill ("RUDY GIULIANI" is just "HILLARY CLINTON" misspelled and wearing a dress.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

Kitty ping!


4 posted on 04/28/2007 8:24:09 PM PDT by Pyro7480 ("Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus" -St. Ralph Sherwin's last words at Tyburn)
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To: Pyro7480; LibKill
Web culture is interesting and funny at the same time ... moose, cheese, your base belongs to us, emoticons, smilies ... good heavens ... you name it.

I love cats and some of these are cute, but frankly I'm tired of cat image macros already.


5 posted on 04/28/2007 8:24:17 PM PDT by Daffynition
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To: rainbow sprinkles

6 posted on 04/28/2007 8:40:51 PM PDT by JRios1968 (This tagline brought to you by courtesy of Happygrl)
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To: rainbow sprinkles; windcliff

I love the kitties...but the bird warming his feet in the macaroons always makes me laugh!


7 posted on 04/28/2007 8:45:58 PM PDT by stylecouncilor (I'm a loner Dottie; a rebel.)
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To: JRios1968
LOL

This is what I think of your rabbit and all this silly mayhem.


8 posted on 04/28/2007 8:50:57 PM PDT by Daffynition (Have to get some sleep. All this is starting to make sense to me.)
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To: stylecouncilor
Have you been drinking too? I thought it was "macaronis"?


9 posted on 04/28/2007 8:54:34 PM PDT by Daffynition (Have to get some sleep. All this is starting to make sense to me.)
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To: rainbow sprinkles

10 posted on 04/28/2007 8:57:04 PM PDT by JRios1968 (This tagline brought to you by courtesy of Happygrl)
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To: Pyro7480; Slings and Arrows; Glenn; republicangel; Bahbah; Beaker; BADROTOFINGER; etabeta; ...



11 posted on 04/28/2007 8:57:27 PM PDT by Slings and Arrows ("I AM A SEXY SHOELESS GOD OF WAR!!!" --http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0439.html)
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To: rainbow sprinkles

12 posted on 04/28/2007 8:57:54 PM PDT by JRios1968 (This tagline brought to you by courtesy of Happygrl)
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To: rainbow sprinkles

I am drinking a glass of wine...lol!


13 posted on 04/28/2007 9:01:35 PM PDT by stylecouncilor (I'm a loner Dottie; a rebel.)
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To: JRios1968

Im on th Intrnet wyztng tym.


14 posted on 04/28/2007 9:05:31 PM PDT by Rocko
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To: rainbow sprinkles

Cats are so five minutes ago.

15 posted on 04/28/2007 9:06:15 PM PDT by LongElegantLegs (<--- "Crazy Aunt" Conservative)
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To: rainbow sprinkles; rzeznikj at stout; Slings and Arrows; Lady Jag; PetroniDE


16 posted on 04/28/2007 9:12:04 PM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: stylecouncilor
HAHAHA!

CHEERS!


17 posted on 04/28/2007 9:13:17 PM PDT by Daffynition (Have to get some sleep. All this is starting to make sense to me.)
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To: LongElegantLegs
HAHAHAHA! VERY funny!

Le Huegenots était gai.

18 posted on 04/28/2007 9:16:12 PM PDT by Daffynition (Splitting my sides!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1)
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To: martin_fierro

LOL! The emocat looks like my cat.


19 posted on 04/28/2007 9:18:23 PM PDT by HungarianGypsy (Pass the popcorn.)
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To: rainbow sprinkles
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
20 posted on 04/28/2007 9:19:23 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Greed is NOT a conservative ideal.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

21 posted on 04/28/2007 9:20:46 PM PDT by Daffynition (Have to get some sleep. All this is starting to make sense to me.)
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To: martin_fierro

22 posted on 04/28/2007 9:21:57 PM PDT by Daffynition (Have to get some sleep. All this is starting to make sense to me.)
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To: cripplecreek
That'll get you a high-five.


23 posted on 04/28/2007 9:24:00 PM PDT by Daffynition (Have to get some sleep. All this is starting to make sense to me.)
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To: Slings and Arrows

Oh goody! I always wondered what the hell was up with those things.


24 posted on 04/28/2007 9:24:33 PM PDT by To Hell With Poverty (If this city were any 'bluer', it'd be spelled 'bleu'.)
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To: rainbow sprinkles
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
25 posted on 04/28/2007 9:26:32 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Greed is NOT a conservative ideal.)
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To: rainbow sprinkles
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

26 posted on 04/28/2007 9:26:51 PM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: cripplecreek

27 posted on 04/28/2007 9:29:42 PM PDT by Daffynition (Have to get some sleep. All this is starting to make sense to me.)
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To: martin_fierro

28 posted on 04/28/2007 9:31:46 PM PDT by Daffynition (Have to get some sleep. All this is starting to make sense to me.)
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To: rainbow sprinkles

29 posted on 04/28/2007 9:53:03 PM PDT by BlueDragon (yah,yah so i stolz it. sa suz meh)
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30 posted on 04/28/2007 9:55:26 PM PDT by BlueDragon (yah,yah so i stolz it. sa suz meh)
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To: rainbow sprinkles
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
31 posted on 04/28/2007 10:01:36 PM PDT by To Hell With Poverty (If this city were any 'bluer', it'd be spelled 'bleu'.)
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To: rainbow sprinkles

This thread will be a classic!!

LOL!!!!!


32 posted on 04/28/2007 10:25:45 PM PDT by KoRn (Just Say NO ....To Liberal Republians - FRED THOMPSON FOR PRESIDENT!)
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bucket saga highlights...begins;


33 posted on 04/28/2007 10:30:13 PM PDT by BlueDragon (yah,yah so i stolz it. sa suze meh)
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To: BlueDragon
http://icanhascheezburger.files.wordpress.com/2007/03/walrusphone.jpg>
34 posted on 04/28/2007 10:32:19 PM PDT by BlueDragon (yah,yah so i stolz it. sa suze meh)
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woops


35 posted on 04/28/2007 10:36:18 PM PDT by BlueDragon (yah,yah so i stolz it. sa suze meh)
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To: BlueDragon

36 posted on 04/28/2007 10:38:50 PM PDT by BlueDragon (yah,yah so i stolz it. sa suze meh)
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37 posted on 04/28/2007 10:41:39 PM PDT by BlueDragon (yah,yah so i stolz it. sa suze meh)
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38 posted on 04/28/2007 10:43:31 PM PDT by BlueDragon (yah,yah so i stolz it. sa suze meh)
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39 posted on 04/28/2007 10:45:32 PM PDT by BlueDragon (yah,yah so i stolz it. sa suze meh)
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40 posted on 04/28/2007 10:48:32 PM PDT by BlueDragon (yah,yah so i stolz it. so suze meh)
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To: rainbow sprinkles
I am a very devoted lolcats - I Can Has Cheezburger fan.

I've "stolen" quite a few images off of there. ;-)

41 posted on 04/29/2007 2:18:05 AM PDT by Allegra (Hey! Quiet Down Out There!)
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To: Slings and Arrows
LOL!


42 posted on 04/29/2007 2:36:24 AM PDT by andyandval
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To: rainbow sprinkles

43 posted on 04/29/2007 2:43:35 AM PDT by Silly (http://www.sarcasmoff.com)
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To: BlueDragon

44 posted on 04/29/2007 5:39:12 AM PDT by Daffynition (I has memez.)
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To: martin_fierro

45 posted on 04/29/2007 5:48:58 AM PDT by Daffynition (I has memez.)
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To: KoRn

46 posted on 04/29/2007 5:51:36 AM PDT by Daffynition (I has memez.)
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To: Allegra

47 posted on 04/29/2007 5:53:55 AM PDT by Daffynition (I has memez.)
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To: All
Origin of "I am in your base killing your d00ds" from Encyclopedia Dramatica.
48 posted on 04/29/2007 5:59:18 AM PDT by Daffynition (I has memez.)
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To: rainbow sprinkles
ROFL!! I can really relate to that one!

{stealing it...}

49 posted on 04/29/2007 6:00:12 AM PDT by Allegra (Hey! Quiet Down Out There!)
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To: Silly

50 posted on 04/29/2007 6:00:18 AM PDT by Daffynition (I has memez.)
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