There is a language community on the interwebs, which, in large parts due to its own actions, remains sheltered from the rest of us. This segregated community can be viewed as any other outcast (voluntary or not) group. I’m referring to that very small percentage of internet users who speak, or well type I guess, in the mystical and elusive language of elite-speak (pronounced “leet”).
For those totally unfamiliar with leet here’s the entire history in one sentence: Internet wiz-kids referred to themselves as the “elite” and started excluding themselves from normal users by typing in a way no one could understand – leetspeak was born.
The basic build is very simple. Replacing letters with numbers or symbols to represent them, for example the letter [ A ] can be written multiple ways [ 4 ; /\ ; @ ; /-\ ]. The more letters that are replaced, and the more creative the combinations, the harder it becomes to read. There are different dialects on various forums, where a certain standard has developed and determined values are accepted within that group as the norm.
Leet has a further level to it, in that common misspellings are used as standard, most everything is written as spoken and bad grammar is a prerequisite for being able to type at all. An example would be “For teh win!” meaning that something is very good, which would have been written as “for THE win!” The spelling derives from the common e-h switch when typing fast, making the prior the correct use for the sole reason that it is incorrect.
Sound confusing? Up is down and back is front? Well leet is sometimes written completely upside-down, and that’s when things get real interesting.
Recently there has been a stir among linguists the world over proclaiming the end of language as we know it. I am referring of course to the (mis-)use of grammar, spelling and punctuation in text and instant messaging. There is also the debate on how this language use is bleeding over into speech and what effects it will have on language development.
Thankfully, I am confident that this is not the case with leetspeak, since leetspeak has zero practical application. It’s not faster, more effective, easier to read and does not save character space. It does however exclude most people from understanding what’s written. Although, for purposes of communication, that is yet another example of the many leetspeak-contradictions.
I will say one thing I love about leet though. It’s funny.
L473|2 n0o6 – 10100111001 Яu|_z0r2