Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “What is Doge?” was written by Alex Hern, Doge correspondent, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 18th February 2014 10.25 UTC

Why is everyone talking about Venetian royalty?

Not that sort of Doge. The one we’re talking about is a meme which grew up on Reddit and Tumblr in the dying months of 2013.

It involves superimposing broken English written in multi-coloured Comic Sans on to pictures of shiba inus, a small Japanese breed of dog known for its spirited stubbornness.


Why not? It’s funny. Sometimes.

OK. But why do they speak like that in particular?

Just as lolcats – the dominant meme of the late 00s – featured cats speaking with their own peculiar grammar, so too do Doges.

Key to Doge grammar are the core five modifiers: such, very, many, so, and much; as well as the exclamation “wow”. As for which modifiers are used in which circumstances, that’s less set in stone. But a good guideline is that if it sounds subtly wrong in English, it’s probably OK in Doge.

Is this a bitcoin thing?

Ah. Yes. Now we’re getting on to the inevitable second stage in the life of any internet meme: its mutation.

Doge has taken the standard twists and turns, and it’s increasingly common to see images which have the format of a Doge picture but don’t actually contain any Shiba Inus at all. But in addition to the evolution of the humour, the meme has been adopted for other projects – of which Dogecoin is the most famous.

Dogecoin is a bitcoin “fork”, a project based on the same source code as the original crypto-currency. But a combination of enthusiastic promotors, a good sense of humour, and healthy dose of luck have meant that it’s achieved real-world value, with one Dogecoin worth around a tenth of a penny. That many not sound like much, but it means that establishments like Shoreditch’s BIT Burger stand can sell real goods for the fictional currency. (One steamed burger currently costs 6000 Doge at the market stand, open every Sunday in Brick Lane)

How do you actually say “doge”?

Now we’re on to the really controversial questions. The two most popular answers, at least according to a self-selecting poll published by Slate in December, are “dohj” – as in the Venetian rulers – and “dogue”, to rhyme with vogue. But other options, including “doggie”, “doh-gué”, “dog-eh” and plain old “dog” are all used by various sections of the internet. And unlike the gif/jif debate, there isn’t even an inventor to proclaim from on high.

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