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An evil, illegible language beckons you ...
April 24, 2007 8:08 PM   Subscribe

When memes have sex, they produce inbred monstrosities. It began with just an innocent South Park pilot and a fat kid's weird way of saying "kitty". Then, the Engrish meme met the L33t meme over for dinner. But their pal, the Cat Macros meme, broke in at gunpoint. The product of this unholy threeway union? LOL-Kitteh, a new 'speak' guaranteeing illegibility to future generations, transforming "that cute cat has a bow on its head" to "Omg him gotz da bowwagez on himz hed lyk WTF?!?" Learn how to make me want to leap through my monitor to kill you with ICanHasCheezBurger's handy five-step tutorial to transform English into LOL-Kitteh (using Engrish and l33t as guides).
posted by WCityMike (80 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Related: anildash blog about lolcats miscellany, including a (sadly undercited) assertion that lolcatspeak has a formal grammar. No word from Geoff Pullum on the subject, yet.
posted by cortex at 8:17 PM on April 24, 2007


When memes have sex. The Attorney Scandal. The Rick Renzi scandal. The Rick Renzi-U.S. Attorney Scandal combined.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:18 PM on April 24, 2007


anildash can has lolkitteh strunknwite?
posted by boo_radley at 8:19 PM on April 24, 2007 [12 favorites]


I was a bit disappointed with the Has Cheezburger tutorial; the results hit me as ungrammatical per Anil.
posted by grobstein at 8:22 PM on April 24, 2007


LOL, I has can memebined atturneys emales and ohio lection getting stoled thingy right?
posted by 31d1 at 8:24 PM on April 24, 2007


Heh. Thanks for the cat macros post. Been driving my mother nuts responding to her emails with related cat meme pix. More ammoz!
posted by Zinger at 8:38 PM on April 24, 2007


This tutorial does not produce proper lolcat speak. Disappointed!

Is it can be reals lolcats speak tiem now, plz?
posted by biscotti at 8:44 PM on April 24, 2007


Don't forget about Animutation and YTMND.

I think it's all a rebellion against the super-stylish Web 2.0 look. I want my ugly internet!
posted by roll truck roll at 8:45 PM on April 24, 2007


The tutorial totally misses the full range of Lolcat art. Instead of engrish, think of toddler speak and:

a) describe the obvious (aggressive cat is aggressive)
b) insert sex humor (stroking my harbls, penis goes where?!?, etc.)
c) Online game-isms (...in your base killing ur doodz)
d) Pop culture quotes (Noooo! Charles get out of my head!)
e) Describe the picture in an unexpected way ("No one escapes the masterlock")
f) or any other online meme

Feel free to jack up the grammar along the way.

Metafilter: Is it can be meme time pleez?
posted by yeloson at 8:46 PM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think "I'm in ur base killin ur d00dz" is the most direct inspiration for most of what shows up as kitteh-speak.

My favorite thing about d00dz is that, for all the notion of the internet as some kind of panopticon, there is apparently no remaining record of its origin. It makes me appreciate what real historians do.
posted by bjrubble at 8:49 PM on April 24, 2007


DO NOT WANT
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:51 PM on April 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yikes. I'm trying to teach myself Urdu and now I've gotta learn this too?
posted by Dizzy at 8:56 PM on April 24, 2007


Yeah, that paragraph long screed isn't lolcatspeak at all.

“That’s a really cute cat. And look, he has a bow on his head!”

Make the sentence something that the cat is saying.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:56 PM on April 24, 2007


Now that's how you do a post about cat macros! Well played Wcitymike.
posted by drezdn at 8:59 PM on April 24, 2007


That lolcat tutorial has just destroyed or enabled a lot that passes for humour on mefi.
posted by jouke at 9:00 PM on April 24, 2007


it can't possibly be coincidence that this was posted right after the lolcat article was slated for deletion on Wikipedia, can it?
posted by norm at 9:09 PM on April 24, 2007


"Omg him gotz da bowwagez on himz hed lyk WTF?!?"

BURN IT WITH FIRE!
posted by now i'm piste at 9:21 PM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


bjrubble- actually, it's from someone playing Starcraft who uttered those infamous words that would haunt the internet.

I think it'll be interesting to see 20 years from now how many phrases and ideas come directly out of online gaming experiences.
posted by yeloson at 9:24 PM on April 24, 2007


it can't possibly be coincidence that this was posted right after the lolcat article was slated for deletion on Wikipedia, can it?

Yes, as I'm not on Wikipedia.
posted by WCityMike at 9:26 PM on April 24, 2007


This is also a way for people to camouflage their spotty English without it ever being an issue.
posted by Brian B. at 9:26 PM on April 24, 2007


The "I'm in ur base killin your d00dz" is actually pretty well understood. It was original in a review of starcraft, in which the reviewing player spends the whole match building up a bunch of battleships, and goes hunting for the other player. He asks the guy where he is, and the guy says "im in ur base killin your d00dz".

I'm having a hard time finding the original review, though. I've definitely read it, as recently as a few months ago. It's also come up on askmefi here. Unfortunately, the wikipedia article everyone links to on this topic has since gone the way of the lolcat article.
posted by heresiarch at 9:26 PM on April 24, 2007


Okay this is a natural progression of a living language. The way they talked less than a hundred and fifty years ago would sound foreign to our ears.

We're just seeing it a little accelerated is all. From l33tspk to lolcat. This is humanity pushing the envelope of its own communication capacity. Totally normal. Nothing to be concerned about. In fact, this experimentation is testing to see how far a word can be manipulated or altered and still communicate. That's actually good for the language. We're overdue for new spelling, grammar and conjugation rules that simplify communications. Right now english is pretty darn complex. Past attempts to improve things like Esperantto and other international auxiliary languages have failed. This experimentation should lead to new possibilities. At the very least, someone will eventually figure out how to create a javascript that'll allow you to babelfish english into "lolcat-l33t-engrish" so you can amaze your friends and dazzle your enemies.

I beezn yer threadas postin mah wrudz. kthxby!
posted by ZachsMind at 9:38 PM on April 24, 2007


boo_radley: anildash can has lolkitteh strunknwite?

31d1: LOL, I has can memebined atturneys emales and ohio lection getting stoled thingy right?

yeloson: Metafilter: Is it can be meme time pleez?

ZachsMind: I beezn yer threadas postin mah wrudz. kthxby!

I have so many monitors to leap through ...
posted by WCityMike at 9:46 PM on April 24, 2007


WCityMike: "I have so many monitors to leap through ..."

Ah haz numbas cumpritter screenz tah do mah pouncin! When yew leest X-pect - awl POUNCE ah POUNCE ah POUNCE yer faycayz!

*insert pouncing kitty pic here*
posted by ZachsMind at 9:51 PM on April 24, 2007


What's sad (maybe sad isn't the right word... only sad to English majors) is this really is how a language evolves. Eventually, everyone will be speaking l33tzorzz.
posted by lesseffective at 9:51 PM on April 24, 2007


ah POUNCE yer fayc!!
posted by ZachsMind at 9:52 PM on April 24, 2007


THOUGHTCRIMEZ IS UNGOOD! DOUBLE PLUS KITTEH!
posted by Artw at 9:56 PM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'll stick with Shakespeare. Specifically the part where he said you should all be shot.
posted by evilcolonel at 10:02 PM on April 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Actually most Americans a generation or two from now may have some little things in the colloquial tongue that linguists then will trace back to leet or lolcat or engrish. It won't make as dramatic an effect as one might think. I wish it could though, and I'll tell you why.

There's something sorely lacking in english that has been noticed over the Internet. The inability to read and determine when someone's purposefully saying something rude or dishonest or ironic in an attempt to make a salient point. Some people can't read sarcasm online. It doesn't play well. Others can claim after the fact that they meant to be sarcastic but when they were typing there wasn't a way to convey it. Sometimes they're being truthful and other times they say that after the fact to minimize the backlash they get for saying what was on their minds in that moment. People take it the wrong way, or not as intended.

Imagine if there were a whole new verb tense, or a variant slang that was acceptable, which was essentially the equivalent of italicizing portions of your speech or written word to say, 'see i'm being cute here don't take it so personal geez' AS you're writing or speaking it out? In a way that is generally accepted as normal? Maybe we'll even be able to say cusswords in this variant tense, because it will be generally accepted that inside this tense such words as fuck and shit can't possibly be taken hatefully or spitefully.

It's lolspeak after all. How could anyone take that bad? I for one would welcome our lolspeaking overlords, if only so I'd be able to say fuck and shit in public without getting dirty looks. I hate censorship. Maybe this would be a suitable compromise.

That won't happen though because while more liberal efforts are pushing for this lolspeak, more conservative efforts are pushing back. You can see it happening now in wikipedia. Are the masses going to accept this as something important enough to even put in there? Some say yes some say no. Rather peculiar that, but it's typical.

Anyone remember Ebonics? It's still accepted in some circles and ignored in others. Yet it has found it's way ever so subtly into common parlance, whether or not it's ever accepted into formal language.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:03 PM on April 24, 2007 [6 favorites]


I find it good that I dutchglish on Metafilter can speak.
posted by jouke at 10:04 PM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is exactly what mefi is for.
posted by rbs at 10:17 PM on April 24, 2007


Hunbly presenting the first and last word in killin ur d00dz.
posted by furiousthought at 10:25 PM on April 24, 2007


Now I gotta go prepare some shit to hunbly present to some people tomorrow. Later!
posted by furiousthought at 10:27 PM on April 24, 2007


Ceiling cat is judging youse inarticulate.
posted by rob511 at 10:28 PM on April 24, 2007


Wikipedia used to be so useful. Now you can't find anything in Wikipedia until after it's been mentioned in Britanica.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:17 PM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


INVISIBLE POSTER
posted by exlotuseater at 11:20 PM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]




it can't possibly be coincidence that this was posted right after the lolcat article was slated for deletion on Wikipedia, can it?

When did Wikipedia join the NFL?
posted by srboisvert at 12:22 AM on April 25, 2007


Imagine if there were a whole new verb tense, or a variant slang that was acceptable, which was essentially the equivalent of italicizing portions of your speech or written word to say, 'see i'm being cute here don't take it so personal geez'

ZachsMind: Agreed, but doesn't that take out half of the fun? When I'm bantering with friends, the limitations of the language mean that such conversation says something about the nature of the trust in our relationship. Wit and sarcasm are also fun intellectual exercises, both for the speaker and listener. While the possibility of obviousness may be good, I suspect we will still have plenty of uses for non-obvious banter.
posted by honest knave at 12:39 AM on April 25, 2007


You cant say NF|_, you mean The Big Game. Obey the copyright overlords.
posted by IronWolve at 1:26 AM on April 25, 2007


BURN IT WITH FIRE!

WITH FIRE
i burned it.
posted by gignomai at 2:31 AM on April 25, 2007


ALL UR KITTEHS ARE BELONG TO TEH FUTURE OF LANGUAGE
posted by autodidact at 3:15 AM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why the hell would Wikipedia delete the excellent lolcat article? I suppose they want to keep Wikipedia for the important stuff, like this comprehensive Back to the Future timeline, right?
posted by reklaw at 4:56 AM on April 25, 2007


Oi, ZachsMind -

Bryson, in one of his more brilliant moments, recounted the story of the German folks who moved to America and attempted to set up a German-only town (complete with newspaper, school, signs, etc, in German). Their kids abandoned the idea within a decade. Language evolves very quickly... which is why I think Deadwood is so goddamned cocksuckin' funny.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:59 AM on April 25, 2007


OMG!! HAY! Tehm d00dz,
WTF ar thay lik swete ov teh kingy guyze

hwo haz 1UP wif poyntie armz Danez?!?
Whun tehy wer reely u noe quik in ur plaize...

LOLARZ, Ih haz lyk IMD uz! WOOT!! OMG WTF
dat pwnage teh Athelinz ar hav gotz!

posted by Smart Dalek at 5:28 AM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


ooooo kewl - comprehensive Back to the Future timeline!!
posted by gomichild at 5:29 AM on April 25, 2007


OMG wau? lolcat buildr!
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:39 AM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nice post.

Just yesterday I thought "It'll be fun when there's a site to turn-the-webpage-into-lolcatspeak" , turning pages of intelligent English into oxytocin laced gibberish and...hey presto, today i can has almost.

Dizzy, Urdu LolKitteh. Wahz Bahuti Achchha!wtf? ? ftw !واہ بہت اچھا
posted by nickyskye at 5:45 AM on April 25, 2007


A post about cat macros that doesn't mention 4chan or chan culture in general misses the point entirely. That stupid icanhascheezburger shit is just somebody late to the game trying to popularize and profit off a subculture that's been around for years before.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:57 AM on April 25, 2007


This Posts Is Sufficient.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:00 AM on April 25, 2007


Urdu LolKitteh

nickyskye, you just broke my brain.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:02 AM on April 25, 2007


Sometimes, I think my cat really understands the secrets of the universe and is dying a little inside whenever I say "YOU'RE A KITTEH!"

IT'S TEH BELLEH! BELLEH NOT GONNA RUB ITSELF! IT IZ CAN BE GOOSHYFOODS NAO?

My cat clearly has received the message loud and clear that we humans are a bunch of easily amused retards, and she will be bringing it back to the mothership.

I CAN HAS WORLD DOMINATION?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:33 AM on April 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh darn, somebody beat me to the ceiling cat reference.

You guys are killing me with this meme cat stuff. Every time I see a new page of those I laugh so hard it upsets my cat and he attacks the closest appendage. This post caused him to draw blood: "I m in ur arm, testin for teh anemic"

And in case anyone here is remotely interested, over on MoFi someone posted the LolCatBuilder. Now everyone can join in the fun before it becomes the latest cliche!
posted by fuse theorem at 6:46 AM on April 25, 2007


GRAMMAZR KITTEH IZ WATCHING U MENTALLY MASTURBAET
posted by Foosnark at 7:17 AM on April 25, 2007


Don't forget Jeff K! He's one of the pioneers of illegible text on teh intarweb. More on Jeff K at Everything2.

pfft who needs Wikipedia, we have Everything2!
posted by closetphilosopher at 7:34 AM on April 25, 2007


yeloson & heresiarch, I still haven't seen anything on "killin ur d00dz" that's more than secondhand. There are references to a screencap, but I've never seen it. It seems like a meme that germinated and gained some measure of notoriety before it appeared on the internet, which is a rarity these days.

Contrast that with Bananaphone, whose origin is exhaustively documented back through several iterations.
posted by bjrubble at 8:28 AM on April 25, 2007


Cat-like typing detected.
posted by Big_B at 8:53 AM on April 25, 2007


nicky--
disregard my owner.
yours,
Dizzy's cat, Dizzy
posted by Dizzy at 9:13 AM on April 25, 2007


cortex: No word from Geoff Pullum on the subject, yet.

No, but Mark Liberman's on it!
posted by clavicle at 9:17 AM on April 25, 2007


Dizzy, Urdu speaking LoLKitteh.
posted by nickyskye at 9:46 AM on April 25, 2007


million dollar idea:
KittyKameez.com.
i'd register the domain, but i am a cat.
yours,
Dizzy's cat, Dizzy
posted by Dizzy at 9:57 AM on April 25, 2007


...and for the boy cats, a variety of KittyKefiya. Salaami Boloni Aleikumz, wazzap!
posted by nickyskye at 10:24 AM on April 25, 2007


I find the lolkitteh and d00dz memes to be surprisingly resilient. Generally a community will run a catchphrase into the ground in a couple of weeks ('this [blank], it vibrates?') but both lolkitteh and d00dz continue to be generally funny.

The reason for lolkitteh is obvious; cute animals with silly text. It will keep the internet turning for years.

I suspect with d00dz it's because of the broad nature of what can be inserted into "I'm in your [blank] [blanking] your [blank]" It's sort of a joke in shorthand. Everyone knows the formula and can appreciate when someone takes it a clever direction. Kinda like a really short, generally less dirty form of the Aristocrats joke.
posted by quin at 10:36 AM on April 25, 2007


Quin, these are snowclones--old phrases with parts swapped out to make it funny. Example: from "pink is the new black" we get "X is the new Y", a snowclone.

The prescriptivists are undoubtedly tearing their hair out, but this is part of the fun of language.

Does anyone remember "I'm a kitty cat?"
posted by closetphilosopher at 11:04 AM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Excellent, I didn't know there was a specific term for this phenomena. I learned something new today.

And yes, the wife and I still sing the kitty cat song when we make our cats dance. But then, we are monsters.
posted by quin at 11:34 AM on April 25, 2007


in a meta-tangent. Anyone take note of these sweet shirt for sale from the site.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:07 PM on April 25, 2007


(In case anyone still cares, the omg i'm killin ur d00dz is from here. That is all.)
posted by olinerd at 12:25 PM on April 25, 2007


I laugh out loud at meta-LOL cats references. I am not ashamed.
posted by absalom at 1:47 PM on April 25, 2007


IM IN UR METAFILTER, OVERTHINKING UR BEANZ
posted by gignomai at 5:47 PM on April 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


a (sadly undercited) assertion that lolcatspeak has a formal grammar

Sob. I have a job, man! I wish I had the time to cite sources for kitty pidgin grammar, but I don't think I could have conceived of the idea that people would demand proof of consistency for imaginary cat-speak on photo images on the Internet. Here is my source: TRUST ME! :)
posted by anildash at 10:01 PM on April 25, 2007


TRUST ME! :)

Can you put that over a picture of a cute cat?
posted by Mr Bismarck at 11:54 PM on April 25, 2007


Lol Kitties I want to see:

1) PC KITTEH
O HAI!

I HAS THESHIS

T3h lulz-kitt3hz be cruelteh!1
2) IRONEY KITTEH

(feel free to fill in the cat situation/text juxtaposition that'd do justice here.)
posted by Firas at 5:52 AM on April 26, 2007


This thread is useless without pictures.
posted by theora55 at 7:36 AM on April 26, 2007


halp! i not cheezburger!
posted by Firas at 7:39 AM on April 26, 2007


I've created a new sub-genre of these: lolchurch.
posted by Biblio at 9:20 AM on April 26, 2007


Actually most Americans a generation or two from now may have some little things in the colloquial tongue that linguists then will trace back to leet or lolcat or engrish.

This is not a joke: I use the sarcastic phrases "You're so clerever" and "that's so clerever" after a typo that our own Postroad made at least three years ago. It stuck in my brain and started falling out of my mouth.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:55 AM on April 26, 2007


Sob. I have a job, man! I wish I had the time to cite sources for kitty pidgin grammar, but I don't think I could have conceived of the idea that people would demand proof of consistency for imaginary cat-speak on photo images on the Internet.

Oh, I can dig it. I'm not knocking you so much as raging in general against lack of satisfying footnotes and crossreferency.

Here is my source: TRUST ME! :)

Never mind: kill the witch.
posted by cortex at 6:50 AM on April 30, 2007


lolkottke!
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:00 AM on April 30, 2007


for posterity, since moonbird didn't seem inclined to do it:

A treatise on the linguistics and phenomenology of the LOLCATS meme.

posted by juv3nal at 10:15 AM on May 10, 2007


lolhowie?
posted by NemesisVex at 11:43 AM on May 10, 2007


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