LOLcats and captions

From Corry Wyngaarden va Chris Ambidge, a link to a recording (with slides) of “I can has language play: Construction of Language and Identity in LOLspeak”, a presentation by Jill Vaughan and Lauren Gawne at the Australian Linguistics Society annual conference 2011: a paper on LOLcats as language play and as construction of double identities, as a cat and as a savvy internet user.

The LOLcat genre displays text (usually in a characteristic font) associated with cute cat photos (or in later developments, other photos, as here). Though it’s displayed as a caption, the text, with its language play, is the point.

(LOLcats on this blog here and here; many many more postings on Language Log. And the related Linguist Llama meme on this blog here.)

Ordinary captions associate text with photos, in books, newspapers, magazines, and the like, but normally without language play. The classic locus for playful captioning is the cartoon (huge numbers of examples on this blog and Language Log; and see the New Yorker cartoon competition here), though wordless cartoons are common, and occasionally text on its own is framed as a cartoon.

There are also loci for text — humorous or serious — on its own: slogans on t-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons, posters, and so on, though t-shirts often combine text and image (as here). And there are various mixtures of text and image, with different functions and intents; see the links to “Some postings on this blog on conceptual art, language-based pop art, conceptual cartooning, and visual puns” here.

In this complex world, LOLcats are close to the text-oriented end of the scale, though the cats aren’t dispensable. But the art is mostly in the captioning. (Compare the Ryan Gosling “Hey girl” captions linked to here.)

I’m very much into captioning, of several types. Some inventories:

Captioning R-rated male photos:

9/23/09: Lifting shirts (link)
9/13/10: Phallicity: innocent? (2) (link)
7/1/11: Wrapped in the flag (link)

Captioning XXX-rated male photos:

8/14/10: Pits ’n’ Tits: the captioned series (link)
6/30/11: The mirror photo (link)
– “I think of my captions as little poems”
7/15/11: Male couples (link)
12/6/11: Photo shoot 1 (link)
12/6/11: Photo shoot 2 (link)

Captioning G-rated academic collages:

4/14/10: Postcard collages (link)
6/19/19: Academic collages (link)

Brief cryptic captions/titles:

9/17/11: Tool collages 1: R-rated (link)
9/17/11: Tool collages 2 (link)
9/17/11: Tool collages 3: Cute animals (link)
9/17/11: Tool collages 4: Serious animals (link)

Captioning XXX-rated collages:

8/2/10: Five from 2005: XXX-rated collages (link)
8/10/10: The A&J Show (link)
8/10/10: Tadzio (link)
8/11/10: Collages on linguistic subjects (link)
8/16/10: Hi-def (link)
8/18/10: Hommage à Rusty (link)
8/21/10: I Married My Dog (link)
8/22/10: Collages Over the Max (link)
8/23/10: Two big ones (link)
8/23/10: Four more from 2005-06 (link)
9/15/10: Phallicity: the symbolic and the real, joined (link)

2 Responses to “LOLcats and captions”

  1. Happy Penguin Awareness Day « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    [...] Another memetic contribution from the I Can Has Cheezburger folks (who brought us LOLcats). [...]

  2. Comic machines « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    [...] on drawings, text, and captions, a quotation from “Lolcats and captions” (link): Ordinary captions associate text with photos, in books, newspapers, magazines, and the like, but [...]

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