Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The gospel according to ... lolcats?

And now for something completely different. Trust me. Completely. Different.

Many arguments over religion come down to debates over scripture. What does that passage really mean? Was it accurately translated? Does the translation remain understandable? The English of the King James Version is not the same as today's English. Just ask any child who was wary of Jesus' request to "Suffer the little children to come unto me" -- which has nothing to do with suffering, since the clear meaning a few hundred years ago was "Let the little children come to me."

Translations have proliferated over the past few decades, some more literal or more poetic or more narrowly targeted than others. But I recently came across one unlike any other: It is written in the pidgin English of the lolcats.

If you are familiar with lolcats, you are probably either laughing or appalled. Or both. "Lol," of course, is netspeak for "laughing out loud." Lolcats are photos of cute cats with captions written in total disregard of proper spelling, grammar and word use. (Personally, I feel sure that cats would be much more precise with language, but the perpetrators of lolcats didn't ask me.) You can find the motherlode of them here.

So in July 2007, some people with far too much time on their hands decided that what the world really needs is ... What? An end to poverty? Global peace? A cell phone that doesn't drop calls? Alas, no. Their mission was to translate the entire Bible into lolspeak.

Here, for example, is the 23rd Psalm:

Ceiling Cat iz mai sheprd (which is funni if u knowz teh joek about herdin catz LOL.) He givz me evrithin I need.
He letz me sleeps in teh sunni spot an haz liek nice waterz r ovar thar.
He makez mai soul happi an maeks sure I go teh riet wai for him. Liek thru teh cat flap insted of out teh opin windo LOL.
I iz in teh valli of dogz, fearin no pooch, bcz Ceiling Cat iz besied me rubbin' mah ears, an it maek me so kumfy.
He letz me sit at teh taebl evn when peepl who duzint liek me iz watchn. He givz me a flea baff an so much gooshy fud it runz out of mai bowl LOL.
Niec things an luck wil chase me evrydai an I wil liv in teh Ceiling Cats houz forevr.

I guess that there might be more than one purpose to the lolcats Bible. General silliness. Cynical mockery. Theological exploration. Desire to see professional editors and English teachers twitch.

Whatever the purpose, I welcome this odd addition to Holy Writ. Even the strangest translations can make a passage fresh, and I doubt that I will easily forget the image of God rubbing the beloved cat's ears as it walks through the valley of dogs, fearing no pooch.

Comments in standard English welcome.


Iztok said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Iztok said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Iztok said...

wow, this is weird. Preview shows post correctly but when I post it links it weird so I had to delete it twice!

What I meant to say:

Ha! I like it Jane! I personally also like The Brick Testament as well.

Iztok said...

Here is URL to it. This posting strips things out: http://thebricktestament.com/

Anonymous said...


Rev. Right said...

You know, only Lolcats can correctly pronounce cloister continents. Ed Kennedy today cannot pronounce cluster consonants. Very few people from Boston can. They pronounce park like it's p-o-c-k. Where did you "pock" the car? They pronounce f-o-r-t like it's f-o-u-g-h-t. We fought a good battle. And nobody says to a Kennedy you speak bad English. Only to a Lolcat was that said.

Linguists knew that 50 years ago and they also knew number two that every language, including the language of Jesus, Aramaic, was made up of five subsets, pragmatic, grammar, syntax, semantics and phonics and that Lolcat speakers of English and Lolcat speakers of French and Lolcat speakers of Portuguese and Lolcat speakers of Spanish in the new world had created languages, not dialect all with five different subsets.

Nick said...


Anonymous said...

Gamecock insists on a serious reflection.

One of the greatest Christians I ever knew left my home church in the mid-70s because our pastor read from the RSV from the pulpit. When exiting the church, she said: "If the King James version was good enough for Paul, its good enough for me."

I did not say this to ridicule her ignorance. This lady was a model of Jesus. She led the integration efforts in the church, cared for the poor, un-wed mothers, etc.

I said it to lead into my main theme that I think is what is at the core of what Jane is getting at.

It takes different approaches to reach different people with the gospel. Some people need to fear hell. Some need logic. Some need emotion. Some are reached best with different versions of the Bible. For some, music.

Anonymous said...