Lolcat

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A typical lolcat

A lolcat (pronounced /ˈlɒlkæt/ LOL-kat) is an image macro of one or more cats. The image's text is often idiosyncratic and grammatically incorrect. Its use in this way is known as "lolspeak" or "kitty pidgin".

"Lolcat" is a compound word of the acronymic abbreviation for "laugh out loud" (LOL) and the word "cat".[1][2] A synonym for "lolcat" is cat macro, since the images are a type of image macro.[3] Lolcats are commonly designed for photo sharing imageboards and other Internet forums. Similar image macros that do not feature cats are often simply referred to as "lols".[4]

History[edit]

1905 cat postcard by Harry Whittier Frees

As early as the 1870s, British portrait photographer Harry Pointer created a carte de visite series featuring cats posed in various situations. To these he usually added amusing text intended to further enhance their appeal.[5] Other notable early figures include Harry Whittier Frees and (using mounted animals) Walter Potter.[6]

The first recorded use of the term "lolcat" is from the anonymous imageboard 4chan.[7][8][9] The word "Lolcat" is attested as early as June 2006, and the domain name "LOLcats.com" was registered on June 14, 2006.[10] Their popularity was spread through usage on forums such as Something Awful.[11] The News Journal states that "some trace the lolcats back to the site 4chan, which features bizarre cat pictures on Saturdays, or 'Caturdays'." Ikenburg adds that the images have been "slinking around the Internet for years under various labels, but they did not become a sensation until early 2007 with the advent of I Can Has Cheezburger?"[12] The first image on "I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGER?" was posted on January 11, 2007, and was allegedly from the Something Awful website."[13][14] Lev Grossman of Time wrote that the oldest known example "probably dates to 2006,"[15] but later corrected himself in a blog post[16] where he recapitulated the anecdotal evidence readers had sent him, placing the origin of "Caturday" and many of the images now known by a few as "lolcats" in early 2005. The domain name "caturday.com" was registered on April 30, 2005.[citation needed]

The term lolcat gained national media attention in the United States when it was covered by Time, which wrote that non-commercialized phenomena of the sort are increasingly rare, stating that lolcats have "a distinctly old-school, early 1990s, Usenet feel to [them]".[17] Entertainment Weekly put them on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Da cutest distractshun of da decaid? Y, lolcats of corse! We can neber haz enuf of deez capshioned pics of cuddlie kittehs."[18] "Lolcat" was also a runner-up under the "Most Creative" category under the American Dialect Society Word of the Year Awards, losing out to "Googlegänger".[19]

Format[edit]

A lolcat image using the "I'm in ur..." format

Lolcat is a composite of two words, "lol" and "cat". "Lol" stands for "Laugh out Loud" or "Laughing out Loud"; hence, lolcats are intended to be funny and to include jokes.[20] Lolcats images comprise a photo of a cat with a large caption characteristically set in a sans serif font such as Impact or Arial Black.[21] The image is, on occasion, digitally edited for effect. The caption generally acts as a speech balloon encompassing a comment from the cat, or as a description of the depicted scene. The caption is intentionally written with deviations from standard English spelling and grammar,[21] featuring "strangely-conjugated verbs, but a tendency to converge to a new set of rules in spelling and grammar".[21][22][23][not in citation given] The text parodies the grammar-poor patois stereotypically attributed to Internet slang. Frequently, lolcat captions take the form of phrasal templates.[23] Some phrases have a known source, usually a well-known Internet meme, such as All your base are belong to us or Do not want,[24] while others don't. The language of lolcats has also been likened to baby talk.[25]

Common themes include jokes of the form "Im in ur [noun], [verb]-ing ur [related noun]."[26] Many lolcat images capture cats performing characteristically human actions or appearing to use modern technology, such as computers.[citation needed]

There are several well-known lolcat images and single-word captions that have spawned many variations and imitations, including "Ceiling Cat" (see below). Others include Fail (a cat with a slice of processed cheese on its face)[27] and "I Can Has Cheezburger" (a portrait of a blue British Shorthair).[28]

Offshoots and parodies[edit]

Variations on the lolcat concept include captioning photos of other animals in a similar style (e.g. loldogs for dogs, etc.).

The syntax of lolcat captions was used as the basis for LOLCODE, an esoteric programming language with interpreters and compilers available in .NET Framework, Perl, etc.[1]

Branding Variations[edit]

Variations of the initial branding idea has been appearing, such as Funny Cat Dot Pics. With the introduction of the new GTLDs, this gave A new branding initiative to the "LOLCat" community. the .pics extension has been incorporated by brands like this to add relevancy and distinguish the differentiation between these and the "LOLCat" Videos.

Ceiling Cat and Basement Cat[edit]

"Ceiling Cat" is a character spawned by the meme. The original image was an image macro with a picture of a cat looking out of a hole in a ceiling, captioned "Ceiling Cat is watching you masturbate." [29] There followed numerous image macros with the format "Ceiling Cat is watching you [verb ending in/rhyming with -ate]" with Ceiling Cat superimposed in the upper left hand corner of an image macro depicting the appropriate action. The underlying theme is that the cat is looking down on you, almost in a form of judgement. The character is also featured in a project to translate the Bible to lolspeak. "Ceiling Cat" and the corresponding "Basement Cat" (a black cat who lives in the basement) represent good and evil (sometimes God and Satan) in the lolcat universe.[30][31][32]

Longcat Lore[edit]

One particular sub-genre of the LOLCat meme universe represents a loose pseudo-mythological parody of the biblical prophecies in the Book of Revelation. The forces of good, embodied by Longcat (sometimes stylised as Looongcat or similar), are perpetually and eternally at odds with the forces of evil as incarnated in Tacgnol (which is, of course, merely Longcat spelt backwards). [33]

The cat graphics in question are originally based on a particular LOLCat meme theme "Longcat is looong..." which depict variations on an image of a white cat being held up by its shoulders with its arms outstretched, and giving the impression of a particularly elongated cat.[34] Over time "photoshopped" versions, imitations and cartoon depictions of this image have diversified and morphed into a complete internet meme folklore, including descriptions the eternal struggle between Longcat and his black alter-ego and nemesis, Tacgnol, and even drawing on Norse mythology for the Armageddon like battle for end of the cosmos known as Catnarok (Ragnarök), which ultimately results in apocalyptic universal CATastrophe. More contentious is observance of the Longcat holy day known as Caturday.

In some instances, Ceiling Cat and Basement Cat (above) are subsumed into the mythology and represented as agents (possibly angel cats, or even incarnations) of Longcat and Tacgnol respectively, thus further adding to the biblical satire.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dwight Silverman (2007-06-06). "Web photo phenomenon centers on felines, poor spelling". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  2. ^ Rutkoff, Aaron (2007-08-25). "With 'LOLcats' Internet Fad, Anyone Can Get In on the Joke". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-02-13. 
  3. ^ Randy A. Salas (2007-06-09). "Laugh at cat humor". Akron Beacon Journal, Star Tribune. Retrieved 2007-06-17. "At first, they were called cat macros, but now go mostly by the name lolcats." 
  4. ^ "LOL builder: Make your own lols". Cheezburger.com. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  5. ^ "Harry Pointer's Brighton Cats". Photohistory-sussex.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  6. ^ Cyriaque Lamar (2012-04-09). "Even in the 1870s, humans were obsessed with ridiculous photos of cats". Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  7. ^ Langton, Jerry (2007-09-22). "Funny how `stupid' site is addictive". The Star. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  8. ^ "Iz not cats everywhere? Online trend spreads across campus". [dead link]
  9. ^ smith, david. "the unseen face behind today’s counterculture". Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  10. ^ Contact Us. "WHOIS domain registration information results for lolcats.com from". Network Solutions. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  11. ^ Tom Whitwell (May 12, 2007). "Microtrends: LOLcats". The Times. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  12. ^ "Lolcats' demented captions create a new Web language," Tamara Ikenberg, The News Journal, July 9, 2007
  13. ^ "About « Lolcats ‘n’ Funny Pictures – I Can Has Cheezburger?". Icanhascheezburger.com. 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  14. ^ "Original Picture, cheezburger, ICANHASCHEEZBURGER, September 26, 2007 icanhascheezburger.com
  15. ^ Lev Grossman (2007-07-12). "Creating a Cute Cat Frenzy". Time (magazine). Retrieved 2007-07-16. "this has also spawned the digg dog which is part of the popular site titled digg.com" 
  16. ^ Lev Grossman (July 16, 2007). "Lolcats Addendum: Where I Got the Story Wrong". TIME. Retrieved February 15, 2010. 
  17. ^ Grossman, Lev (2007-07-12). "Cashing in on Cute Cats". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2007-07-12.  Partial scan of the print edition: fcrunk.wellimean.com
  18. ^ Geier, Thom, et al. (December 11, 2009). "The 100 Greatest Movies, TV shows, Albums, Books, Characters, Scenes, Episodes, Songs, Dresses, Music Videos, and Trends that entertained us over the past 10 Years". Entertainment Weekly. (1079/1080):74-84
  19. ^ "Americandialect.org" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  20. ^ retrothing.com. "1950's Proto-LOLcats". 
  21. ^ a b c Anil Dash (2007-04-23). "Anil Dash: Cats Can Has Grammar". Retrieved 2007-05-03. 
  22. ^ Annalee Newitz (2007-04-27). "I'M IN YR X Y-ING YOUR Z – A Grammar of Lolcats". Table of Malcontents, a Wired blog. Retrieved 2007-04-29. "These images ... usually include a cute cat saying something related to buckets, cheeseburgers, or whatever else with strangely-conjugated verbs." 
  23. ^ a b Mark Liberman (2007-04-25). "Language Log: Kitty Pidgin and asymmetrical tail-wags". Retrieved 2007-04-28. 
  24. ^ "Top ten Star Wars myths and legends: Do not want". VirginMedia.com. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  25. ^ Svensson, Peter (2008-04-24). "Lolcat site needz ur skillz". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  26. ^ Jay Cridlin (2007-06-01). "This be funny storyz". Tampa Bay Times. 
  27. ^ Charles Bremner Toulouse Updated 6 minutes ago. "Microtrends: Failure – Times Online". Technology.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  28. ^ Tozzi, John (July 13, 2007). Bloggers Bring in the Big Bucks. Business Week. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 
  29. ^ "Ceiling cat is watching you...". icanhazcheezburger.com. 2007-01-24. Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  30. ^ Amter, Charlie (2007-12-16). "Lolcat Bible Translation Project presents the Gospel according to Fluffy". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2007-12-24. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  31. ^ Horan, Brianna. "How one hungry 'kitteh' can has the Internet lol". Archived from the original on 2009-02-15. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  32. ^ Guzman, Monica. "Time killer: The "lolcat" Bible". Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  33. ^ "Longcat (Know Your Meme)". Know Your Meme. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  34. ^ "Longcat (Know Your Meme)". Know Your Meme. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]