I’m referring, of course, to leet (AKA leetspeak AKA 1337 AKA 13375p34k). If you are not familiar with this phenomenon, you can check out the WikiHow article here. Basically, it is a horrific mutilation of the English language into a barely-coherent jumble of letters, symbols, and loose to non-existant grammar.
I’ll admit that I’m a bit of an English junkie (there’s a reason why they made me an editor for my FSM commentary group). Language has always come pretty easily to me and I like making it just right. I have been known to correct spelling/punctuation problems on my class notes before. If I catch an error on this blog that makes it into the published page, I will go back and edit it every time, and hope nobody saw it before then. It’s not uncommon for me to edit a post three or four times before I finally leave it alone…
That said, I can understand a bit of fudging for internet purposes. I used to be very much into the chat world in my teens, and I jumped right in with the standard shorthand, such as “lol,” “brb,” “wb,” “BTW,” and the like. I could even deal with cheating on punctuation and capitalization. Speed was important, and it was not always efficient to take the time to polish every sentence before you hit “send.” (Now, praise the Lord I got out of that mess; I wasted so much time with my cyber-“friends”… yipes.)
However, the grammar snob within me recoils when I see leet. A couple of the words, I can understand — for instance, it carries over the classic chat abbreviations — and I can see even adopting a few purposeful misspellings (I’m thinking mainly of “teh”). But leet is seriously out of control.
Leet has no alphabet. Even though it’s purportedly based on English, each letter can be written in any way that might remotely resemble the letter — if you squint hard enough. For example, these are all potential renditions for the letter M: /\/\, |\/|, [\/], (\/), /V\, V, \\\, (T), ^^, .\\, //., ][\\//][
That’s right. You just saw twelve different variations of one letter.
Leet has no grammar structure or spelling. Phoenetic equivalents are “just as good” as the real words, even if the phoenetic equivalents are more difficult to type. And tacking on random suffixes is great, as well.
I don’t get it. Leet takes more time to write, communicates less actual thought in the process, requires intense study and consideration even to read, and possibly still requires interpretation to understand, supposing you’ve read it correctly in the first place.
I wonder if I’ve established my case significantly enough to say that leetspeak as a system just got PWN3D. Ha.