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Rolcats: Russian Lolcats with fake translations

February 26, 2009 |  3:15 pm

What do you get when you mix a Lolcat with Soviet-era quips? A Rolcat.

Lolcats is that old Internet chestnut in which people put witty, broken-English captions on photos of cats. Rolcats.com involves an Eastern Bloc twist: Russian is layered on top of the photo, followed by a funny translation.

Rolcats
The real Russian translation suggests that the cat can't sleep.

The meme has spread quickly around the usual blog and social media haunts within the last week. It spurred some confused onlookers to wonder aloud in the Rolcats blog comments whether these were authentic translations.

Though Rolcats does indeed take its unusual photos from a Russian-language copy-Lolcat, Kotomatrix.ru, the English translations are the creative work of the blog's mysterious author, who goes by the name Demitri.

One photo, pictured at right, shows a chubby white kitty clawing and gnawing on a rope fence. The fake translation reads, "Drat, thwarted so close to freedom's sweet caress…  I dreamed for but a taste of the decadent west, and now my eulogy is sung by guard dogs and alarm bells."

The actual Russian translation of the Kotomatrix subtext is, to put it lightly, less humorous. "What can be done about this insomnia? The advice is ...

... to count to 10... He tried to reach to 10... And I jump to my feet."

Funny, right?

Despite the dullness of the actual Russian text, the sham English "translations" incited some prickly reactions from Russian-speaking bloggers.

"I thought it was bizarre that Soviet-era kitsch should be the subject of the humor," Ethan Zuckerman wrote in a blog post called Rolcats and recursive humor.

A Russia! Magazine blogger didn't beat around the bush with his response. "The fact that the jokes suck doesn't offend us so much as the author's tacit implication that another language is gibberish just because he can't read it," wrote Andrew Biliter.

The Rolcats creator may not have a future as a translator, but he could be the spiritual successor to Yakov Smirnoff's stand-up comedy career.

-- Mark Milian

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