Lolcats is my new obsession. Like sit-for-hours-looking-at-pictures-of-cats obsession. My dogs think I’m crazy, laughing uproariously at captioned pictures of cats at my computer. No, really. They look at me, look at the screen, and do that little head tilt thing. You know the one I’m talking about. But really, I can’t seem to help myself. I sit down to write or do something productive, and I inevitably stuble over to this site. And there are new pictures all the time! See, I’m one of those people that sees pets as part of the family. As such, I developed the habit of captioning their thoughts — and the cats inevitably spoke with Lockhaven Lockjaw or in lolspeak. Thus, the funny in this website.
For those of you who do not know, “lolspeak” is a variation of standard English guided by efficiency of character usage and phonetics. In other words, this was developed by gamers and other hard-core online users to streamline communication. “Laughing out loud” became “lol,” “Talk to you later” translated to “ttyl,” and from there, other variants became mainstreamed. Often, “lolspeak” doesn’t actually save the writer time in his or her typing — for example, “teh” has become lolspeak convention in place of “the.” While it is not a more efficient word, it has been adopted into the communal vocabulary.
I have no problem with lolspeak. I actually think it can be endearing, as many of my dear friends tend to inject it — judiciously — into their mundane vocabulary. That being said, I draw the line at lolspeak entering formal writing. And yes, I have seen this. Multiple times. I swear, one more “lol” or emoticon in a professional email or academic paper, and I will scream. As a writer, words are sacred in all of their forms; but there is a time and place for everything. A register for every occassion. And “ttyl” just does not work as a business letter salutation. Uppity about my word choice? You bet. And don’t even get me started on grammar.