Folk speech – United States of America

Folk speech – United States of America

‘Leet’ , ‘Newb’ , ‘Pwnage’

If you walked into an internet cyber café crowded with video gamers some of the first words you would hear (screamed in a rather high pitched tone) would be ‘leet’, ‘newb’, ‘pwange’, normally followed by or preceded with numerous profanities. You would have a similar experience if you walked into my dormitory suite anytime after 10 pm on a weekday. 5 out of the 8 people I live with are video gamers, including myself, and it isn’t uncommon for us to switch to gamer speech in the heat of a game of Counter-Strike or Warcraft.

The word ‘Leet’ is derived from ‘elite’ and is often used when referring to a veteran player or a particularly brilliant in-game action made by a player. One might say “That guys leet” when referring to a veteran or “That was a leet move” when referring to an amazing tactic used. ‘Newb’ is an abbreviation of ‘Newbie’ which is a slang term for a newcomer to online gaming. It is often used as an insult when a player does something amateurish in-game. ‘Pwnage’ is derived from ‘ownage’ which refer to the domination of a player in-game. It is now often used in speech outside gaming, mostly when an individual wins an argument.

I chose to sample this piece from my suitemate, Fung, rather than document it myself, since I feel that Fung’s use of game speech often seeps its way into his regular speech, which has subsequently started to rub off on the rest of us, even my 3 suitemates that don’t game. Fung said that he first came across gamer speech at an internet cyber café, which is where many of us first experienced it as well. He feels it’s an integral part of the gaming experience and that using it helps to differentiate between a casual and hardcore gamer. According to him there is no such thing as a video gaming experience unless the participants are well versed in game speech.

While some might attribute this to only North American gamers, this form of speech is universal, all gaming communities have them. This is mainly due to its proliferation through online gaming. Therefore, if you want to personally experience or document cases in which it is used, the most effective way would be to buy an online game and become part of its community.

I personally feel that while it adds to the gaming experience, game speech is not a vital part of being a gamer. However, it does instill a sense of identity, a sense of truly relating oneself to a hobby that’s become a crucial part of one’s life.