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I can imagine a French, German, Dutch or Russian version of "teh first language born of teh internets". Does any such exist? And what is LOLspeak anyway. It clearly isn't, as it calls itself, a "language". Is it a cant? Is there, in fact, any linguistic term to describe the phenomenon? It seems to be a form of slang which exists only in writing.

  • There is some prior discussion of this on the English site as well: english.stackexchange.com/questions/16154/… – MatthewMartin Sep 14 '11 at 14:35
  • Yes, I believe it exists in most languages, though they usually also use many expressions from English chatspeak. French often spells kwa, for example. Dutch would use 8er for "achter", etc. – Cerberus Sep 14 '11 at 16:18
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    @Cerberus, Is that LOLspeak or txtspk? I don't think they're the same (at least in English). – TRiG Sep 14 '11 at 19:47
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    @TRiG: Oh, dear. Already I have offended speakers of different dialects by throwing them all on a heap... – Cerberus Sep 14 '11 at 20:03
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    Spoken Lolspeak is heard from time to time here at RIT, actually. (I can has…? and has instead of have.) It passes between friends and acquaintances in many informal situations. – Jon Purdy Sep 25 '11 at 1:03
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Is it a cant?

I'd say no it is a slang instead. While these sort of words are used to exclude others and mark who is "in-group" and who are "outsiders", there isn't enough to make it a cant or argot.

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  • Precisely right. And, TRiG, "it" doesn't call itself a language: the insiders who use it do. – msanford Sep 14 '11 at 14:27
  • @msanford, I was referring to the "definition" of LOLspeak as teh first language born of teh interwebs. – TRiG Sep 14 '11 at 19:48
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I would call it a constructed dialect. It's a dialect because its mutually intelligible with standard English and it was purposefully constructed, in this case for humorous effect. (Mutual, obviously being not the best word since there aren't native lolcat speakers)

I'm sure the same joke (of attempting to write with as many common or possible mistakes as possible) could be pulled off in any language.

Here is a reference to support my idea that it is a constructed dialect-- the Bible in LOLCat.

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  • Could be. Has it been? – TRiG Sep 14 '11 at 14:39
  • Yes! And I did it. People laughed uncontrollably when they read some of the stuff I wrote in Russian. Like I said, LOLCat is made by taking ordinary language and inserting mistakes. – MatthewMartin Sep 14 '11 at 14:44
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    I like constructed dialect because "slang" to me doesn't embody syntactic differences (though some authors use it that way), and lolcat/lolspeak certainly has a few. @Matthew: Are you sure there aren't a few kids out there these days growing up bilingual in lolcat? – tdhsmith Sep 15 '11 at 0:50
  • I'd heard of the LOLCat Bible. I now want to ask some questions here in LOLspeak. I shall resist the urge. – TRiG Sep 21 '11 at 17:21
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In France, such a language is called "langage SMS", or "Kikoo Lol". (Kikoo, as a transformation of Coucou which means Hello!, and LOL taken from the english). It's mostly due to the use of short SMS on cell-phones, ( I think more than the influence of IRC or the Web). However it's the same dialect on the web and on the cell-phones. In wikipedia, it is called a sociolect.

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There is a slang language that relies on intentional (but consistent) misspellings in Russian. It has been extremely popular in the Russian Web in early 2000s. See the wiki entry for it here.

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In Chinese, Martian Language comes to mind, also an Internet phenomenon.

Martian language (Wikipedia)

They substitute characters for 近形字 (characters that look similar) or 同音字 (homophonous characters), and other scripts that obfuscate the language.

They've even made a Simplified Chinese<->Martian converter here. I input some poetry inside, and here's the result:

Original: 獨自莫憑欄,無限江山。別時容易見時難,流水落花春去也,天上人間。
Martian: 獨洎嗼憑欄,無限茳屾。別時傛易見時難,蓅氺落埖舂呿乜,迗丄亽間。

I do not claim to have a large vocabulary, but 洎 is the only of the substitute characters that I know... so Martian is pretty esoteric.

Edited to add: I've just realised 舂 is another character I recognise. I thought it was 春 at first because of the structural similarity between the two characters.

Edited: And just to clarify, 乜 is used in Cantonese transcription, so I recognise it as well, but I'm unaware of its original meaning.

@rogermue: LOLspeak isn't the same as textspeak. It's the kind of broken langauge used in lolcats.

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It is similar to Eye dialect—a kind of constructed accent in written language.

P.S. See also this question: We have constructed languages, but are there constructed accents?

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  • Eye Dialect is an attempt (however successful or not) to transcribe actual spoken speech -- a phonetic transcription of dialect on the cheap. Not really the same as LOLcat. – Robin Hamilton Jun 16 '17 at 3:14
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Chat language is a special language based on shortenings because communication must be quick and normal language in written form is too slow in chat room communication. One might call it a shorthand language. Such things develop wherever quick exchange of information is necessary. So specialists at stock exchanges have their own shorthand language as Mombi for German Moment bitte (moment please).

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