Ye Lyterasie ov thee trans

The Miller as a lol
So what's this all about? Read on…


One of the more interesting and fun things about transliteracy is stumbling across the playful use of it. The image above comes from “Geoffrey Chaucer hath a blog.” It’s a blog that is written in the style of Geoffrey Chaucer; i.e. in middle English and making referencing to various characters from The Canterbury Tales. It’s new to me but clearly a popular blog. What I find fascinating is that the authors have basically transliterated many blogging genres (memes, polls, a Rotulus bloggorum]and so on) from contemporary English to middle English while remaining in character.
The photo above is a variation on a “lolcat”. A lolcat is a photo of a cat with a humorous caption written in a variation of txt spk that features various feline puns. (Wikipedia | Flickr). Chaucer has transliterated the lolcats into the equivalent for characters from The Canterbury Tales and transliterated the lol cat captions into middle English. You can see the original entry here.
Play with a form may seem trivial but often it is the investigation of playful behaviour that tells us most about the vernacular use of that form. For example, much of the compelling early research into computer-mediated communication (e.g. Brenda Danet’s work) focused on the playful use of language in that medium. It seems to me that Geoffrey Chaucer’s blog is a prime example of how transliterate behaviour enables the use of pre-existing literacies for new media. Some other examples, not all of them playful, might be:
Samuel Pepys’ blog
Modern Mechanix
Shorpy – the 100 year old photo blog.

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