A parent’s primer to computer slang

Published: January 2, 2007

Like most things in youth culture, the acronyms, codes, and slang that kids use to communicate evolve so rapidly that by the time they’re documented for adults, they’ve long since changed.

But here are a few general things it might be helpful to know, if you’re trying to make sense of your kids’ written communication style.

One term for digital slang is "Leetspeak." You can find entries in regularly updated online reference sites, such as Wikipedia, that contain extensive lists of sample terms and phrases under this keyword.

When last we checked, Leetspeak (or leet) could be defined as a specific type of computer slang in which the writer replaces regular letters with other keyboard characters to form words phonetically.

Reputed to have been originally created and used by computer hackers and online gamers, leet moved into the Internet mainstream.

Leet words are expressed in hundreds of ways, using a dizzying array of substitutions and combinations. Nearly all characters are formed as phonemes and symbols, but any given word can be interpreted in myriad ways. Here are a few general trends we think we’ve spotted.

Key points for interpreting leetspeek

Foster open communication. Your first step in understanding the way your children communicate should be to ask them. It’s never too early to encourage healthy communication with your children about all aspects of computer usage.

Numbers and symbols replace the letters that they resemble. You could write the term "leetspeak" as "1337$p34k". The character "1" replaces the letter L, "3" replaces E, and so on. Other examples of character/letter replacement might include "8" for B, "9" for G, and the number 0 for the letter O.

Letters can be substituted for other letters that sound alike. For example, you might replace the final letter S in a plural word with the letter Z, making your skills into "skillz". With the letter X replacing the letter C or K, the example becomes "sxillz". Then using numbers and symbols, you might end up with "5x1llz".

Mistakes are left uncorrected. Common typing errors such as "teh" instead of "the" are left uncorrected or deliberately adopted.

The suffix "0rz" might be appended to words for emphasis or to make them plural. For example, "h4xx0rz" or "sk1llz0rz," are plural or emphasized versions (or both) of hacks or skills.

~ by thoughtcrime2 on May 29, 2007.

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