First it was cats (especially lolcats), now it’s dogs, well doges.

From a February 6th posting on The Toast site by Gretchen McCulloch. ‘A Linguist Explains the Grammar of Doge. Wow.”

(Passed on by Erin Stevenson O’Connor on Facebook.)


If you spend time on the meme-ish corners of the internet, you’ve probably noticed a certain trend in captioning pictures of shiba inus, known as doge, although there’s considerable disagreement about how to pronounce the word itself.

In case you haven’t (which isn’t possible), here are some prototypical examples of the doge meme. For more doge than you can probably handle, see also the tumblr tag

The language is mostly modifier + head, with just a few modifiers, and the combinations are either ungrammatical or unusual. McCulloch explains all this in some detail, with some erudition.

From her Google site, we learn that she has an M.A. in linguistics from McGill. From her personal website, we see that her main project is the morphosyntax of Mi’gmac (Eastern Algonquian) (formerly known as Micmac). She also has a wide-ranging interest in popular language use.

An earlier entertaining project of hers, also on The Toast, is “A Linguist Explains the Rules of Summoning Benedict Cumberbatch” of 1 2/2/13, on tendencies in playful variations on the actor’s name:

Bandicoot Cabbagepatch, Bandersnatch Cumberbund, and even Wimbledon Tennismatch: there seem to be endless variations on the name of Benedict Cumberbatch. In fact, even street signs have gotten into the action [this one is inadvertent: a road sign for Congleton Sandbach]

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