Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Sarah Horwitz, a fourth year student majoring in Linguistics at The University of Pennsylvania.
I’ll begin honestly: I have never considered myself to be among the pioneering forces of youth culture. However, I was surprised to notice at the end of last summer that I sounded like I could be. By which I mean, I realized that I had started saying LOL in spoken conversations. Soon after, I made some additional observations: notably, that when I said LOL, I didn’t always pronounce it the same way (cf. “L-O-L” [ɛl.o.ɛl] versus “lull” [lʌl] or “lole” [lɒl]); and that the variance between these pronunciations didn’t feel trivial. However, I wasn’t sure what to make of this information.
Fast forward to early September, when I was struck by a moment of linguistic wonderment (Rymes 2019): in the middle of a spoken conversation, the friend I was talking with “LOL-ed”. Just like I do! As it turned out, my friend – also young and female – uses LOL in her spoken language, and she also pronounces her LOLs variably. This moment of wonder sparked many new questions – for instance, could we, as young, female speakers, be innovators in an ongoing linguistic change? – yet I still lacked any nuanced answers.
Several weeks later, my spoken LOL use cropped up again, this time in a moment of linguistic arrest (Rymes 2019). After hearing me say LOL out loud, both my mom and my brother called me out, asking: Why don’t you just actually laugh? In the moment, I struggled to explain my behavior. However, I didn’t feel like I was using LOL as a replacement for laughter, and I was also hesitant to label any sort of communicative behavior – especially my own! – as “wrong”.
These personal experiences culminated in my endeavor to better understand what it means when people say LOL in spoken, offline language. In what follows, I explain how I used methods of citizen sociolinguistic inquiry – defined by Rymes (2019) as “pay[ing] attention to how [everyday] people talk about language,” (9) – to probe the meanings of “spoken LOL”. I should mention that my experiences with sociolinguistic research heavily shaped my analytical approach. However, what follows is not sociolinguistic research. Though perhaps, in the spirit of Svendsen (2018), my methods might contribute to evolving discussions of “how (socio) linguistics can contribute to the general field of citizen science,” (140).
What does it mean when someone uses LOL in spoken language?
This is the question at the core of my research. As a nascent “LOL-er”, I’ll admit to being selfishly interested in better understanding my own language use. Yet for less trivial reasons, the sociolinguist in me wondered if better understanding the meaning of “spoken LOL” could enrich our understandings of the people actively involved in, or witness to, processes of linguistic change. Some other questions I wondered about include:
- Who actively participates in processes of language change?
- Who controls these processes?
- How do people respond to these processes while they’re happening?
- How do people understand their own (and others’) participation in the process of language change?
In what follows, I outline my most essential and interesting discoveries. While admittedly lengthy, these discoveries are by no means exhaustive, and I am sure they will continue evolving over time. Thus, in the true spirit of citizen sociolinguistic inquiry, I welcome any feedback and further discoveries in the comments section!
No source left behind (lol)
“Citizen sociolinguistics”, and citizen science more generally, seeks to gain knowledge by asking and/or involving “non-experts” – generally, people without conferred social or academic status on a subject matter – in the research process (Rymes 2019; Svendsen 2018). Thus, to capture the widest range of existing knowledge on spoken LOL, I actively sought out sources with varying levels of “mainstream” (institutional) prestige. I arrange this diversity of expertise along what I call a “continuum of standard”. Here are the sources I consulted, arranged on the continuum:
CONTINUUM OF STANDARD:
- Urban Dictionary
- Stan Carey’s personal blog
- Google survey I administered to people in my academic and personal networks
- Slate Magazine
- Oxford English Dictionary (OED)
- The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
- National Public Radio (NPR)
- Linguists (Dr. John McWhorter and Gretchen McCulloch)
I found widespread evidence across nearly every source I consulted that LOL is now a feature of many English speakers’ spoken language. I also found fairly consistent attestations of the nuanced social meanings and functions of LOL, both online and offline. However, among the people and sources I consulted, I discovered an overwhelmingly negative attitude towards this evolved linguistic reality. Why, if even the most “standardizing” of cultural touchstones like the OED, attest the presence of LOL in spoken language, do people still seem to believe that this way of using language is “bad”? I cannot definitively explain this trend, despite all of my research. However, by providing nuanced information about spoken LOL, I hope to equip you, dear reader, with an understanding of how departures from linguistic norms can be ingenious, instead of just injurious.
Saying LOL out loud is officially a thing
There is overwhelming attestation across the sources on my “continuum of standard” that LOL is a feature of many English speakers’ spoken language. It is worth contextualizing the general emergence of LOL before delving further into its significance when said out loud. According to the BBC, the first online use of LOL was by “computer geeks” at the end of the 1980s (1). Over the next thirty years, use of LOL in internet-mediated contexts gradually expanded, and had exploded in popularity – and among younger demographics – by the early 2000s. According to an article on Wired, LOL has existed beyond the confines of cyberspace since approximately 2011 (1). However, the article goes on to list the first verbal citing of LOL as occurring before 2011, as part of dialogue between two characters in the British novel Freshers(by Kevin Sampson; published 2003):
Source: Wired, “People Officially Say ‘LOL’ Out Loud” (2011)
Evidently, the presence of LOL in written dialogue is different from the presence of LOL in myriad spoken conversations that occur around the English-speaking world (cf. You’re Skitting Me 2014; Morgan 2011; Carey 2013; McWhorter 2013; McCulloch 2019). However, it is worth highlighting that the presence of LOL in written dialogue suggests a cultural shift, in which the use of LOL in a spoken conversation becomes normalized. It is impossible to say whether this lone instance of normalized spoken LOL precipitated the frequent presence of spoken LOL that we currently see. Regardless, use of LOL has transitioned from written to spoken conversations since 2011. A Quora forum (from around 2016), based on the question “When people say ‘lol’, do they say ‘l’ ‘o’ ‘l’ individually or together as ‘lol’?”, further attests the progression of LOL use offline. Notably, the question of the forum is not whether people say LOL offline, but how LOL is pronounced when it is said aloud. In other words: the question is premised on what appears to be a new linguistic reality: LOL is not limited to online spaces. Interestingly, the two top answers to this original query have been viewed 1.4 thousand and 342 times respectively since 2016 (at the time of writing, December 2019). We therefore have indications that by 2016, many people were not only aware of LOL’s offline presence, but also cognizant that LOL could be pronounced in different ways.
That the existence of “spoken LOL” is now a given is echoed by the sampling of citizens I polled in a brief online survey (2019). Of 31 respondents, 29 (93.5%) are aware of spoken LOL:
We can by no means generalize based on the results of this small and unrepresentative sample. However, it is worth noting that among this sample (roughly gender-balanced, but skewed young), the majority of respondents had heard LOL used in spoken language.
Beyond asking questions related to LOL on my survey, I also asked my respondents to self-report where they grew up. Curious to see if geographic location had any influence on a respondent’s familiarity with LOL, I used Labov et al.’s (2006) Atlas of North American English (ANAE) to code each respondent’s “geography of origin” by the ANAE category it fell into. The ANAE provides comprehensive evidence of the dialect diversity that exists in North America; each of its dialect regions, shown in the map below, are arguably distinct. Once coded, I plotted each of my positive respondents (respondents who had heard LOL used out loud; N=29) in their dialect region of the ANAE dialect map:
Once again, it would be unwise to generalize from the patterns suggested by this graphic. Yet it is still interesting to note that recognition of “spoken LOL” does not seem limited to particular regions, within our small sample of geographically diverse speakers. It’s also worth noting that this kind of analytical approach exemplifies a blending of traditional sociolinguistic methodology with emerging citizen sociolinguistic methods, and could possibly be successfully adopted with larger and more balanced data sets.
Use and comprehension of LOL is SYSTEMATIC & CONSISTENT
Moving beyond evidence of LOL’s recognizable presence in spoken English, we turn towards documentation on what LOL means. Across the same “continuum of standard” sources, we find even more robust evidence supporting the notion of LOL as a communicative device with nuanced meanings. Interestingly, it appears that the meanings of LOL online and offline are slightly different. However, in both contexts LOL seems to function to concisely convey extralinguistic information.
Dr. John McWhorter gives LOL the linguistic classification of a “pragmatic particle” (2013), or a word that adds helpful context to a communicative interaction. McWhorter (2013) argues that LOL is a pragmatic particle that communicates empathy. He expands on this discursive function to argue that LOL is also unique for giving written speech, which has traditionally sounded relatively formal, a way to sound more casual. Linguist Gretchen McCulloch (2019) expands on this idea of LOL “informalizing” written speech, and also draws on the work of a third linguist, Michelle McSweeney, to document the “semantic shift” undergone by LOL from its origins in the “Old Internet” to its current online use. McCulloch explains how in the early days of “Old Internet People” (think our “1980s computer geeks” from the previous section), LOL emerged as shorthand that meant “laugh(ing) out loud”. However, LOL has since evolved into a “social lubricant” (2019:125) that softens what is sometimes interpreted as curt, cold online communication. McCulloch explains how LOL seems to be used for emotionally motivated communication, including to flirt, to repair a relationship, and to hint at subtext (2019:105; NPR 2019). It seems that regardless of its specific emotional appeal, the presence of LOL in a message implies that there is at least a second layer of meaning in the communication.
Beyond these layers of meaning, McCulloch also documents certain “syntactic constraints” that appear to condition how LOL is used in online contexts. For example, she describes how LOL tends to be used only once per utterance. The presence of such “syntactic constraints” is expanded by Grammarly, a website that markets itself as a tool for proper and effective writing. According to Grammarly, LOL can be used online as an interjection and as a verb (Ticok, 2). This suggests it would be appropriate to say “why’d you lol so hard” [where “lol” is a verb], but inappropriate to say “wow you’re such an lol” [where “lol” is a noun]. It is likely these uses might have made intuitive sense to you as you read them; if so, that would seem to provide additional “citizen” support for the existence of structural constraints on how LOL is used!
Ultimately, the fact that LOL seems to convey nuanced semantic information, plus has basic “syntactic constraints”, lends intriguing and critical academic credibility to the form and function of LOL. Unfortunately, none of these linguistic analyses approach LOL in the offline contexts that I am most interested in. Additional online sources (cf. Anderson 2011, Morgan 2011, Carey 2013, Manjoo 2013, McWhorter 2013, McCulloch 2019) also seemed to relegate their copious depictions of LOL’s communicative nuances to “online LOL”. I can only speculate about what this lack of information might suggest. Perhaps the primary folks having discussions of LOL’s meaning are unaware of the differences between LOL’s written and spoken meanings; perhaps those who do say LOL aloud are intuitively connected to its nuanced meanings, and thus have no need to discuss them; or perhaps something entirely different is going on. As I do not know more definitively, I can only draw from the responses of my survey to probe the nuanced meanings of spoken LOL. And according to my survey responses, it appears that the “semantic shift” of LOL described by McCulloch and McWhorter might have carried over into spoken language!
I asked my survey respondents to write-in what they thought LOL means when said aloud. Resultantly, I received a range of responses. However, there were some consistent trends in what people said, and in poring over the data, I identified four main categories of meaning:
(1) Sarcasm/irony (sarc):
- Saying LOL can communicate irony or sarcasm, or that something is unfortunate or “MEME funny”
(2) Funny, but not enough to laugh (almost.ha):
- Saying LOL can mean you’re indicating an appreciation of humoristic intent, contained laughter, or acknowledging a joke; critically, saying LOL is not an intended replacement for real laughter
(3) Awkward (awk):
- Saying LOL in response to what someone else says can indicate that you found something funny when it was not actually intended to be so; it can convey a pity laugh or sense of awkwardness; or it can convey a response like “omg”, “ha!”, or “imagine that!”
(4) Literal LOL (LOL):
- A small number of respondents said that LOL is an acronym meaning “laugh out loud”, and when spoken means “that’s funny”; it can also mean earnest/unironic laughter
(5) Other (other):
- The remaining responses were either uncertain (cf. “I don’t know”) or off-topic (cf. “It means we are applying a phrase normally deployed digitally to different setting and context”)
I coded each of my responses into the category it best fit, and then graphed my four primary meanings (plus “other”) by the number of respondents who said them. The resultant graph, shown below, suggests some interesting preliminary patterns:
Two striking patterns emerge from this graph: first, among our small and unrepresentative sample, the “funny but not enough to laugh” (almost.ha) and “sarcasm/irony” (sarc) meanings occurred among the highest number of respondents (N=9 and N=11, respectively). Secondly, when the “other” category is excluded, we see that the “funny but not enough to laugh” and “sarcasm/irony” meanings occurred a noticeably higher number of times than the “awkward” and “literal LOL” meanings did (N=2 and N=3, respectively). These trends seem to tentatively indicate that spoken LOL conveys meanings of irony or sarcasm, adjacent to actual laughter, that are above the level of consciousness of many speakers (in other words, speakers are generally aware of these meanings). It would be interesting to substantiate these findings with more data, which might also let us probe interactions among speaker gender, age, and these semantic categories.
Overall, while these patterns seem interesting, there is again no guarantee that they are accurate, nor do we have any way of knowing how they might generalize to a larger and more balanced sample of speakers. However, this preliminary visual analysis suggests that there might exist a consensus among speakers of what spoken LOL means. Further, in the context of claims of a “semantic shift” undergone by LOL (McCulloch 2019:106), it is interesting to observe that only a small number of participants identified spoken LOL as meaning literal laughter. Again, we cannot guarantee that these patterns are reliable; yet if they are, the nuanced meanings of spoken LOL that depart from literal laughter seem to align with the nuanced meanings of written LOL that depart from literal laughter.
Beware of “LOL Syndrome”!
Despite such seemingly widespread and recognized presence, spoken LOL – along with written LOL – is frequently skewered by citizen and expert speakers. Critics of spoken LOL decry the feature as being confusing and evincing poor grammar (cf. Wikipedia). A finer-grained sampling of representative attitudes is provided below:
- Wired, “People Officially Say ‘LOL’ Out Loud” (2011):
- The author explains that, despite his efforts to the contrary, “I’ve personally felt LOL threaten to burst forth on occasion; it may have once even escaped my lips,” (Anderson 2)
- Slate, “LOL: Write it. Text it. But never, ever say it.” (2013):
- After presenting complex arguments for the fairly nuanced semantics of “online LOL”, the author writes: “I’m still leery of using the word lol in speech, though. That’s because when you’re talking to someone rather than typing, you have many better ways of expressing emotion—tone of voice, body language, the entirety of the language. When you say lol—whether you pronounce it EL-OH-EL or LAWL—it feels unnatural, like you’re calling attention to texting when you should be talking,” (Manjoo 2)
- The BBC, “Why did LOL infiltrate the language?” (2011):
- Cites “purists” and “anti-lollers” who are concerned about spoken LOL’s contribution to the “bastardization” of English (Morgan 1)
- YouTube, “Those People Who Say ‘LOL’ | You’re Skitting Me S2” (2014):
- Saying LOL aloud is labeled “LOL syndrome”, something that is shown to be uncontrollable and contagious, and can be “contracted”; those in the skit who say LOL aloud are described as “irresponsible”, and become socially shunned by peers
- Stan Carey’s WordPress blog, “Sentence first: An Irishman’s blog about the English language” (original post from 2013):
- Note the first commenter’s stated surprise at the prevalence of LOL in the speech of university students; yet in contrast to the negativity of the previous comments, the second commenter here normalizes the use of “spoken LOL”, to positive effect:
I’ve underlined the most explicitly negative elements of the titles and quotes in the above list. These elements characterize spoken LOL with a language of disease (“infiltrate”, “syndrome”, “contract”) and a language of abnormality (“leery”, “escape”, “burst forth”, “unnatural”), beyond generally negative phrasing like “never” and “when you should be [doing something else]”. These metaphorical descriptions paint a fairly consistent picture of LOL as something unwanted and damaging. Even though the last comment, from Stan Carey’s blog, frames spoken LOL in a more positive light, it is striking that this is the only representative comment to do so. It is also intriguing to consider these overwhelmingly negative attitudes in the context of the aforementioned nuanced descriptions of LOL’s meaning and structure. While I cannot explain this disconnect between the meaning and structure of LOL, and attitudes about its use, it seems illogical to simultaneously legitimize the meaning and structure of a linguistic feature, but delegitimize its use.
I found a similar disconnect to exist in my survey responses. Again, of 31 citizen respondents, 93.5% (29/31) had reported hearing LOL said aloud. Among the same group of respondents, 64.5% (20/31) – though smaller, still a majority – reported themselves as being people who would say LOL in their offline communications:
Yet, when asked to evaluate how “good” or “bad” it is when people say LOL aloud, these same peoples’ responses skewed neutral to negative:
I should note that I intentionally left “good” and “bad” undefined in the survey, in order to mitigate the potential influence of my definitions on respondents’ answers. Yet because these terms are undefined, I cannot comment on how respondents may have interpreted them. Nevertheless, it is striking that within a population of respondents wherein the majority have both heard spoken LOL and would say LOL in their own spoken language, only 4 of 31 (12.9%) respondents ranked “spoken LOL” as “good”. The majority of respondents, 18/31 (58.1%) ranked this behavior as neutral, while the middle number of respondents ranked “spoken LOL” as “bad”. This is a surprising trend! Again, because this survey sample is small and unrepresentative, I can only speculate about why spoken LOL seems to be framed in such a negative way. It is possible that over time, as saying LOL is seen as more of a “norm” and less of a “deviant” behavior, more people will evaluate its usage more positively. In the meantime, attitudes surrounding spoken LOL seem like a rich area for deeper research.
Time to meet the family (lolz)
Better understanding attitudes and usage of spoken LOL may also result from investigating some of LOL’s cousins, which include LMAO (“laughing my a** off”), ROFL (“rolling on the floor laughing”), and LOLZ (the plural of “LOL”; “many LOLs”). (For a more complete list of variants, please consult the following sites: BBC and Wikipedia). I don’t have the bandwidth to fully investigate variations of spoken LOL in this one post. However, according to two peers, LMAO does figure certain peoples’ spoken English repertoires – although saying LMAO aloud tends to be seen as “more cringey” than saying LOL (personal communication). These “citizen perspectives” pan out with some subsequent online research. According to the site “HiNative” (2018), which is geared towards helping non-native speakers of English, it becomes clear that LMAO is used in spoken language:
The featured response, by including “…often pronounced as just ‘lmao’ if used in speaking” (orange underline), implies that LMAO is a feature of the spoken language of native English speakers. Further, the casual way in which spoken LMAO is alluded to may suggest that the behavior itself is not particularly noteworthy. I’m honestly uncertain what “just ‘lmao’” means in terms of pronunciation, but according to my two Gen-Z references, LMAO is said aloud in the following way: “luh-mOW” [lə.mæ̓w]. The relative recency of this thread (2018), compared with the featured LOL threads (2013-2017), may suggest that “spoken LMAO” emerged after “spoken LOL”. Ultimately, more research is needed to fully understand this trend!
A second “LOL-spinoff” worth mentioning here has to do with the popular 2007 category of memes, “lolcat”. The first recorded use of “lolcat” was on 4chan in 2006, and the watershed moment for “lolcat” came in 2007 with the “I Can Haz Cheezburger?” meme (McCulloch 2019:243). “Lolcat” officially entered the online version of the OED in 2014 (Wikipedia). Beyond spawning countless “lolcat” memes, and styles of memes, “lolcat” also spawned an internet language called “lolspeak”. This language is intentionally “improper”, and was designed to be a self-referential spoof of “improper internet language”. However, despite its intentional goofiness, there are consistent syntactic patterns to “lolcat” memes and their language, including:
- “Im in ur [noun], [verb]-ing ur [related noun].”
- “[Adjective] cat is [adjective/noun].”
Further, “lolspeak” is actually used by people! Most famously, “lolspeak” was used to create a translation of the Bible, the beginning of which reads as follows:
Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.
Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.
At start, no has lyte. An Ceiling Cat sayz, i can haz lite? An lite wuz.
An Ceiling Cat sawed teh lite, to seez stuffs, An splitted teh lite from dark but taht wuz ok cuz kittehs can see in teh dark An not tripz over nethin.
An Ceiling Cat sayed light Day An dark no Day. It were FURST!!!
(excerpt taken from Gretchen McCulloch’s Because Internet, pp. 243-44)
Nearly every line of this excerpted translation is a reference to some sort of online meme (McCulloch 2019:244). Such a feat of translation is formidable and deserves much lengthier attention than I can provide in this post. However, I still wanted to mention it, because certain core features of “lolcats” and “lolspeak” seem to parallel features of “spoken LOL”:
(1) Both communicate nuanced layers of meaning, sometimes in self-referential ways;
(2) Both are at least a little bit systematic in nature; and
(3) Both have the tendency to draw criticism or negative evaluation from certain other speakers (cf. Morgan 2011, Manjoo 2013, You’re Skitting Me 2014, Wikipedia [ROFLCon])
In recent years, “lolcats” has appeared to lose steam, and the meme is currently less of a cultural vanguard than it once was (Wikipedia [ROFLCon]). Yet the parallels between “lolcats” during their heyday and certain current trends with LOL seem to indicate a certain consistency to how aspects of internet culture and language are transforming oral culture and communication.
Mais attendez, ceci n’appartient pas uniquement à l’anglais ! (ptdrrr)
To recap everything that our investigation has uncovered so far, it appears that:
- LOL does exist beyond electronic communication
- What LOL means when used in spoken language does not seem random or accidental;
- Rather, speakers seem aware that their language is changing, and can articulate both these changes and their systematic meanings pretty well
- Yet the discourse around spoken LOL is full of threatening language
- Perhaps people have such overwhelmingly negative attitudes towards spoken LOL because they are afraid of the change, or are afraid of being complicit in what may amount to a degradation of language?
- At the moment, we cannot say for sure!
This has been a fascinating journey for me, and I appreciate that you’ve successfully read this far! 😉 Yet I would be remiss if I kept my discussion anglo-centric. Indeed, LOL is not the only online laughter, or laughter-adjacent, convention that exists. The following schematic shows various ways of laughing online, for the top ten countries in the world (by internet users):
Source: Digg, “I Say LOL, You Say Ek1: How People Around The World Laugh Online” (2018)
I leave as an open question whether these other online forms of laughter are also used in spoken speech. Well, I suppose I should say slightly open; in speaking with a native French speaker, I understand that the French constructions “mort de rire” (“dying of laughter”) and “pété de rire” (literally, “broken of laughter”; stronger than mort de rire) are frequently used out loud, perhaps even more so than their English LOL counterparts (personal communication).
On that note of further discovery, I hope that this post sparks interesting conversations, and eagerly anticipate hearing your comments and feedback 🙂
And now, let the conversations continue – IRL!
References (and further reading, lol 😉
Anderson, N. (2011, March 26). People Officially Say ‘LOL’ Out Loud. Wired. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2011/03/people-officially-say-lol-out-loud/
Carey, S. (2013, March 5). The dramatic grammatic evolution of “LOL”. Retrieved from https://stancarey.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/the-dramatic-grammatic-evolution-of-lol/
Dimock, M. (2019, January 17). Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins. Pew Research Center. Retrieved December 14, 2019, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/17/where-millennials-end-and- generation-z-begins/.
Ho, P-C. (2019, October 4). I Say LOL, You Say Ek1: How People Around The World Laugh Online. Digg. Retrieved from https://digg.com/2018/how-different-countries-laugh- online
Labov, W., Ash, S., & Boberg, C. (2006). Chapter 11: The dialects of North American English. In The atlas of North American English: Phonetics, phonology, and sound change: a multimedia reference tool (116-149). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Accessed online at https://www.ling.upenn.edu/phono_atlas/Atlas_chapters/Ch11_2nd.rev.pdf
lol. (2017, April 25 [top definition]). Retrieved December 10, 2019 from Urban Dictionary: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=lol
LOL. (n.d.) Retrieved December 10, 2019 from the LOL Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LOL
Lolcat. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2019 from the Lolcat Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolcat
LOLCats – Funny cat pictures. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.lolcats.com/
Manjoo, F. (2013, May 2). LOL: Write it. Text it. But never, ever say it. Slate Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2013/05/lol_write_it_text_it_but_ne ver_ev er_say_it.html
McCulloch, G. (Interviewee), Yu, M. & Kopp, E. (Producers/Editors), Jarenwattananon, P. & Novey, B. (Web adapters). (2019, July 31). Our Language Is Evolving, ‘Because Internet’ [All Things Considered Author Interview]. Retrieved from NPR, https://www.npr.org/2019/07/31/747020219/our-language-is-evolving-because-internet
McCulloch, G. (2019). Chapter 3: Internet People. In Because Internet (63-108). New York, NY: Riverhead Books.
McCulloch, G. (2019). Chapter 4: Typographical Tone of Voice. In Because Internet (109-154). New York, NY: Riverhead Books.
McCulloch, G. (2019). Chapter 7: Memes and Internet Culture. In Because Internet (237-264). New York, NY: Riverhead Books.
McWhorter, J. (Speaker). (2013). Txting is killing language/ JK!!! [TED Talk]. TED | Ideas worth spreading. TED Talk retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/john_mcwhorter_txtng_is_killing_language_jk/transcript?language=e n#t-804123
Morgan, J. (2011, April 8). Why did LOL infiltrate the language? BBC News Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-12893416
Palomasribeiro [username]. (2018, January 23). What does lmao mean? Question posted to HiNative,https://hinative.com/en-US/questions/6462660
Pan, J. (2016, May 3). When people say “lol”, do they say ‘l’ ‘o’ ‘l’ individually or together as “lol”? Question posted to Quora, https://www.quora.com/When-people-say-lol-do-they- say-l-o-l-individually-or-together-as-lol
ROFLCon [archived website]. (2007 October 31 – 2014 September 21). Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20080426224218/http://roflcon.org:80/
ROFLCon. (n.d.). Retrieved December 14, 2019 from the ROFLCon Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ROFLCon
Rymes, B. (2019). Chapter 1: Citizen’s Arrest. In How We Talk About Language. Cambridge University Press [expected 2020, October 1]
Rymes, B. (2019). Chapter 2: Wonderment, The spark that starts talk about language. In How We Talk About Language. Cambridge University Press [expected 2020, October 1]
Rymes, B. (2019). Chapter 4: Fomenting Wonderment and Critique: Feedback Loops. In How We Talk About Language. Cambridge University Press [expected 2020, October 1]
Svendsen, B.A. (2018). The dynamics of citizen sociolinguistics. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 22(2), 137-160.
Ticak, M. (n.d.) What Does Lol Mean? [web log comment]. Retrieved from Grammarly, https://www.grammarly.com/blog/lol-meaning/
You’re Skitting Me. (2014, April 12). Those People Who Say “LOL” | You’re Skitting Me S2 [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpn56vN5iII
 Note: I mean “offline” in the sense of “not on the internet”, not in any sense of semantic/syntactic processing. The same holds for “online”; when I say “online”, I only mean “on the internet”
 In quotation marks because I do not mean “syntactic constraints” in their formal (theoretical) linguistic sense
 Though I recognize that there are many online sites and forums I may have missed!
 But wait, all this doesn’t belong uniquely to English! (LOLLL)