Linguistic Anthropology

The study of language has been part of anthropology since the discipline started in the 1ate 1870s. This site is a place for linguistic anthropologists to post their work and discuss important events and trends in the field.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


"Linguistics for the win!" (inspired by a blog comment)

A Special In-Depth Analysis by David McRaney - L337 Katz0rz (Via LL)

An analysis of lolcats through "leetspeak" and visual macros. Rich, insightful, funny. McRaney sure got 1337-cred to spare.

Too many quote-worthy excerpts. Do read the whole thing. The blog entry itself might require prior knowledge of English-speaking Internet popular culture to be fully understood. But even those who may not share these references could get something out of McRaney's post. The process of identity negotiation through assessing ingroup membership through obscure references is well-understood (and sociological enough). The lolcat examples used are rather representative. And issues surrounding language use in English-speaking online groups are described clearly.

IOW, McRaney's a pifanee-inducing h4x0rz.



Blogger joshua said...

Though not really discussed in depth here, I think one area of interest is the range of ideologies attached to the styles used in these memes and in similar arenas.

Where are these speakers adopting the linguistic tropes that show up regularly here? Where are they getting the regularization of irregular verb paradigms, the orthographic representations of consonant voicing and devoicing, the various choices in orthography and punctuation? In other words, what, or who, is being indexed in the use of these tropes? In exploring that, how useful is the concept of "mock languages," as discussed by Hill and others, to a discussion of this type of linguistic practice?

Etc. :)

6:20 PM  
Blogger Alexandre said...

All very good questions, mostly having to do with the fact that McRaney doesn't talk about the people themselves, just their activities. In fact, it reminded me of much work done in the study of "Popular Culture" which tries to emulate deterministic models from stuffy art history. Some individuals may have an impact but we assume these movements not to be social.
Still, those who know the "geek culture" behind leet-speak and those who understand the social identities negotiated through image macros can now discuss the relevance of lolcats as marked discourse related to both groups.

Personally, what probably caught my attention the most was the clever playfulness of layering inside joke upon inside joke. Not only is it creating the we-ness/distance tension of identity negotiation but it provides the necessary conditions for sudden shifts in frames of mind ("pifanee").

5:57 AM  

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