Home News LEET to LolCat: the evolution of online languages

LEET to LolCat: the evolution of online languages

by Archives October 30, 2007

Back in the day, LEET was an esoteric sub-culture “language” invented by the hacker community to circumvent filters on Bulletin Boards (BBS) and Internet Relay Chat (IRC). The word LEET comes from 1337, the hacker term for ELITE.
A language in which numbers and symbols were put together to look like letters, it enabled veterans to communicate through coding so non-techies couldn’t understand. If a word is blocked, for example ‘hacking’, why not say ‘/-/4(k1n6’ instead?
No longer carrying the cool cachet it used to, anyone who thinks it’s still hip to talk LEET is generally considered a ‘n00b’ (newbie) or poser.
LEET generally uses shortened words (ie. “are” becomes “r”) and intentionally misspelled words. A possibly outdated translation chart will give you an idea:
For example: 1 |2 1337 translates directly as “I r leet,” or in plain English: I am elite.
_|00 |2 4/\/ |_||\|1337 (_)83|2 |-|4><><0|2 Translation: You are an unleet uber hacker. Seems simple enough. But LEET was cool almost 10 years ago, a veritable eon in Internet generational terms. What has seemingly replaced it is a language a whole lot less intellectual whose very existence is quite possibly a great offence to English language purists. It's called LolCat. Deriving from the bizarre proliferation of marrying pictures of cute cats with bastardized English captions that purposefully warp both grammar and spelling (in the great tradition of Japanese and Chinese T-shirts that miss the mark in translation to English), LolCats is swiftly taking over the Net - and cellphone messaging - as the new language. For the uninitiated, here is a very brief lexicon, taken from the Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com) 1. lol - Its original definition was "Laughing out loud," it is also written occasionally as "Lots of Laughs." Used as an acronym to denote great amusement in chat conversations. But it's not funny anymore. In fact, it could be described as the single, most infectious and annoying symbol in all of Internetdom. Since people rarely laugh "out loud" in front of their computer unless watching *insert YouTube video of choice here*, it's pretty useless. Often used when people can't think of anything better to say. ex. Person 1: Quit school today, burned all my hair off, got dumped, got HIV when I stepped on a needle, lost an eye, got caught masturbating in the elementary school parking lot, then shot the cop who tried to arrest me. Person 2: lol* 2. noobs: Someone who does not know how the world works, what is going on, or anything. They aren't as new as annoying. ex. n00b1: U R such a n3wb, U sukkors n3wb. Howler Silver: .... go away... n00b1: kno n00b Howler Silver:...I never even said anything.... n00b1: U R still a newb. 3. pwnage: 'Pure Ownage', traditionally used by experienced videogamers to stress your superiority on all levels. This word is spawned from the root word pwn, which originated as a misspelling of the word 'own'. The "p" replaces the "o" because during the frenzy of gaming, the player has no time to correct any spelling mistakes. Hence this word is two screw-ups away from anything close to English. ex. William's pwnage in that game was complete and utter. 4. w00t!: w00t was originally an acronym for "we owned other team." It is now commonly used as an interjection of joy. ex."w00t! I pwn3d j00!" "Oh! You see that hs??!?! W00T4G3!" 4. teh: the - a complete lack of any desire to possess even the most basic spelling skills Other common mispellings: that = taht, take = taek, you = joo, dude = jood, bff = Best Friends Forever, l8r = later. To top of the indignity to language purists, a LolCats Bible is beginning to surface on the Net. Apparently, there is an unreached people group in those who speak only LolCat. Certain theologically-inclined translators are addressing the issue. Go to www.lolcatbible.com if you don't believe me.

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