Meow #82 – In da beginnins

Despite the blog’s title being written in the LOLspeak variety, my idea to look at cat-related digital spaces was not inspired by LOLcats and LOLspeak. Nope, my research was sparked by everyday cats with their very own social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram. Because I found so many cats with their own accounts, I, too, opened an account for my cat Murrli just to see what it is like and to play around.

Cat in digital spaces

And the cat purrsona [sic] or cat identity is not the only community practise that I have found online. Oh no, there are also lots of language bits and pieces that are fascinating for a linguist, especially one that comes from a dialectology background. There is dialectal variation of English (as L1) out there.

The longer I was immersing myself in the various digital spaces, the more I noticed specific word formations and spellings which I called ‘meow-words’ and ‘meowlogisms’ as a cat-related pun on ‘neologism’. In scientific terms, I was applying a sort of ‘linguistic ethnography’ approach, which means that the researcher observes a community. (Side-note: Ethics alert! The research participants, their privacy, their safety must be protected at all times!)

Bringing dialectology to the cats or #MoreCatsInLinguistics

Noticing dialect variation of English was wonderful for me to see because I had not done any research work on dialectology since finishing my PhD on Southern Welsh English, and I was missing dialectology. And here in the cat-related digital spaces, I could really see dialectology at work again.

And it’s not just dialectology that can be applied in the cat-related digital spaces, there is also morphology, lexicology, syntax, sociolinguistics, narrative research, semiotics, discourse analysis, multimodality, and and and. There is a cat for every linguist out there, metaphorically speaking.

Non-metaphorically speaking, there are many cats out there in academia. Just search for the hashtag #AcademicsWithCats and you will be surprised by how many academics (including the students) post photos of their cats on social media.

Da LOLcats – kittehz

LOLcats were quite famous in the noughties. And they still get their mention in research because – and here is a linguistic tid-bit for you – with LOLspeak, there is a language variety that has developed in the cat-related digital space of LOLcats.

In brief, LOLcats are a specific type of image macros with text superimposed on them. Loosely speaking, we can refer to them also as memes, although that definition will not withstand scrutiny.

A few scientific papers have been published about LOLcats and LOLspeak. They are listed on Cats on the Net.

Jennifer Williams, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


To be quite clear here, I am very aware of the fact that is people who have these accounts but – and hey, here is another linguistic tid-bit for you – it is among the ‘community practises’ in the cat-related digital spaces that we accept the cat personas of the fellow cat afficionados on social media.

OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Edith Podhovnik (April 21, 2022). Meow #82 – In da beginnins. Meow Factor. Retrieved July 19, 2024 from

Edith Podhovnik

a linguist researching language #purrieties and #meowlogism-s •alumna of SwanseaUni • loves cats • writes about cats

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