Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Dogespeak: a Heckin Good Descriptive and Contextual Analysis

Dogespeak: a Heckin Good Descriptive and Contextual Analysis

Carly Slank

Varieties of language that arise in the medium of the internet give contemporary linguists an unprecedented opportunity to study linguistic change and enregisterment. Because of the global and frequently anonymous positions of internet users, registers of internet language often rely on common interest or opinion rather than status, occupation, ethnicity, or locale to bind their communities of speakers. Dogespeak is a variety of ludic language or language play that rests on a cross-cultural common interest in dogs, humor, and manipulation of language that began with a single forum post; in the past five years, the style of language play used in that forum post has been enregistered and gradually incorporated with lexical, morphological, and syntactic conventions to constitute what is now known as dogespeak. Using forum, blog, and social media posts from several popular online hubs of dogespeak, the introduction of each precept of the register can be identified, resulting in a timeline of dogespeak enregisterment. Here, the current lexical, morphological, and syntactic features of dogespeak are described and positioned within the developmental history of the register. While the first enregistered feature of dogespeak, the syntactic “wow-modifier” rule, has been the subject of linguistic inquiry before, the present research offers a more extensive diachronic analysis of this and many more recently enregistered features including the “heckin” modifier, the “-boi” morpheme, and the “doin me a (frighten)” clause.

April 2, 2018 - Posted by | abstract


  1. I don’t know what to say other than, I want to read this.

    Comment by Jami | April 8, 2018 | Reply

  2. As someone who engages in dogespeak even outside of the internet, this sounds like a really interesting look at how fast and widespread it can become a common way of talk among friends. Are you looking specifically at internet use dogespeak, or in a larger context? Much smart. Very wow.

    Comment by Haley Scott | April 16, 2018 | Reply

  3. This sounds like a fascinating topic. Therefore, ‘Wow, very linguist, Such fascinate!’

    Comment by Andrew McKinney | April 21, 2018 | Reply

  4. This sounds really interesting. Do you know if it is acceptable or unacceptable to use dogspeak when the “speaker” is not a dog? I feel like if people spoke that way, without any context, it would be sort of strange. Did you find a lot of people that did this? *Note: I think it would be strange without any context, however, with conttext, such as the use of dogspeak in the other comments, is not strange, in this case because it is used in reference to your paper, which is about dogspeak.

    Comment by Samantha Spolarich | April 23, 2018 | Reply

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