I’ll admit it, I love lolcats, and lolpresidents, and every other variation you could possibly come up with. Sometimes stupid-funny annoys me, but other times it just catches me the right way, especially when there’s an opportunity for the virus/meme to spread in such a way that it allows for either (A) clever captioning with a pop culture reference you either get or you don’t (see photo above, my current favourite lolpresident), (B) creative photoshopping (see also: Worth1000), or both.
But over the past couple of days, I’ve been thinking a lot about how so much of what I experience daily in the English-speaking internet community doesn’t really translate into Turkish. I live with three Turks, two of whom have very limited English and one (Emirhan) who has excellent English language skills, but like the other two has limited knowledge of western pop culture. And the language jokes, even if they don’t involve pop culture references, are still difficult to explain sometimes. For instance, Emirhan almost always understands why the items from the bazaar are funny, but he doesn’t always get the captions I write, especially if a particular caption plays on a tricky grammatical problem that sounds funny to native English speakers but wouldn’t necessarily seem odd to people who speak English as a second language (I have many more thoughts on this issue which I will address in a separate post tomorrow). Sometimes I can explain the joke, but other times it doesn’t translate at all and I’m met with a blank stare.
So I guess what I’m trying to get at is that although the four of us live together and share group jokes of our own, the three of them have Turkish jokes that I don’t get, and there’s certainly a huge part of my social life (namely the meme-infested English-speaking internet community) that they can’t really participate in on any meaningful level. Lolcats, for instance, is one of those things you either understand or you don’t, even if English is your first language, and once you start trying to explain it to someone, you’re already overexplaining and the joke loses a lot. There’s an element of timing that’s necessary when it comes to clever one-liners. I’m curious to know if this sort of thing exists in the Turkish-speaking online community; I know things like blogging and podcasting are just barely getting started here, but the Turkish have a very well-developed sense of humour and it wouldn’t surprise me if they have their own little funny memes community that I’m not even aware of, and that I wouldn’t find funny anyway.