Folk Language/Internet Culture

Ross Chris Newman – Nerd speak

Recently, because of the internet boom, more and more people are becoming versed in technology language.  Just a few months ago, there have been cell phone commercials that have made acronyms once only known by teenagers who used instant messaging programs a nation-wide phenomenon. Phrases such as “Idk,” “brb,” or “roflmao,” are now common speech in society. (They stand for I don’t know, be right back, and rolling on the floor laughing my ass off.) If you do not know these terms, then you can be immediately known as not “tech-savvy.” However, there is a whole other hierarchy of language known as “Leet speak,” or “Nerd talk,” that allows those who truly are computer geeks to unite under the same banner to create and perform new technology folklore.

In the previous paragraph, Leet is not actually spelled like that. My brother told me it is actually spelled, “L33T.” At first glance, most people would get confused as to its meaning because of the numbers, but anyone who knows what this phrase means can be considered a part of a special group of underground or gaming computer users. L33T speak is generally used in various computer games to shorten the amount of text characters used so that players do not spend too much time typing and spend more time playing. Mostly, because in the time that it takes to type a sentence, you could get fragged. Confused? To frag someone is to kill them in a game. Fragging is another commonly used word in the nerd realm. If someone does not know something as simple as what the word frag means, or the actual definition of L33T, then they do not deserve to be called a gamer. Ross Chris was very passionate about letting me know how proud he is to understand these various words and that it makes it even more special knowing that not everyone else understands them.

L33T is a shortened way of saying “elite.” So if you are a good gamer, you might type a phrase such as this. “I just fragged your ass, I am L33T. You got pwned.” While it didn’t save that much time, it did show that the person who said this sentence is truly a gamer because of the special wording that he chose. While “I just killed you, I am elite, you suck,” means generally the same thing, it doesn’t exude the same meaning to a true gamer. It actually comes off as awkward and unusual.

To tell you the truth, the previous statement merely grazed the surface of L33T speak. Gamers tend to change the wording to most things they see around the web. Why do they do this? RC said that it’s merely a way of defining themselves as a part of a group. While typical people may see them as strange, true nerds laugh and enjoy the numerous concoctions of new words among their own internet community. For example, instead of saying hacker, they would call them a “Haxxor.” Instead of saying, “I stole your food and ate it,” they would say, “I’m in your kitchen, stealinz your foodz,” with a funny picture of a cat in a refrigerator. This specific LOLcats example has become a world-wide phenomenon with thousands of other pictures popping up around the web and is just another example of the new internet culture that world web wide users are producing daily.

A simple search on Yahoo and anyone can find thousands upon thousands of funny pictures or videos that make fun of things in daily life. I understand why they do it. It is a nice way to remove yourself from reality and create your own humor and then post it online and receive feedback from the thousands of people who appreciate your work. The personal gratification that these internet artists get from their work is more than enough for them to continue this new revolution. Eventually, I believe that in just the same way, “lol” and “brb” have progressed into general society, new technology terms will eventually become mainstream media. I can only imagine what the nerds will come up with next.


Time Magazine:

Anonymous. “Dashboard.” Time 17 Sept. 2007: 16.

Network World:

Carooso, Jeff. “Are You 133t?” Network World 21 (2004): 1-2.

Customer Relationship Management Journal

Lager, Marshall. “Let the Games Begin!” Customer Relationship Management 11 (2007): 50.