LOLcats have gone from infectious Internet meme to academia. In a lecture presented at the Australian Linguistic Society conference, Jill Vaughan and Lauren Gawne explore the academic side of the language used in the LOLcats meme, which is a collection of seemingly innocuous cat pictures with superimposed captions. The authors identify LOLspeak as a form of “language play” that serves both identity construction and reinforces in-group cohesion. The authors theorize that the LOLcat builds the identities of both the playful cat humans are speaking for, and the knowledgeable human that gives the cat its characteristic voice. Most importantly, if you’re in on the LOLcat joke, you’re part of the Internet community at large, and feel a sense of belonging.
Watch the 20-minute lecture above or read it for yourself in PDF form.