I Refuse to Call It 1337

25 Apr

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.


Posted by on April 25, 2007 in Random


9 responses to “I Refuse to Call It 1337

  1. Dorean Beattie

    April 25, 2007 at 11:02 am

    I think I know the real reason anyone would put any effort into learning LEET… It’s to keep their conversations safe from old people, like their parents. PWN3D? I’m lost… I’m old… Time for a nap…

  2. Robin

    April 25, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    I am the same way!! I am definitely an English girl too.

    That being said, (and that fact that I am smart being communicated) this makes my brain hurt. Ridiculous.

    My guess would be: Pounded, or owned. *shrug*

  3. standonthewall

    April 25, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    That’s just dumb and seems like it would be much less trouble to just spell the correct word out. Wow.

  4. brian

    April 25, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    No doubt I’m too old for leet, and too poor a typist to boot.

    I feel doubly old because I’m totally mystified by your phrase “established my case significantly enough”. No matter how I slice it, I come up confused. Are you saying that you’ve “sufficiently” stated your case?

    ttfn… 😉

  5. Amanda Beattie

    April 26, 2007 at 12:48 am

    Dad: Yes, “sufficiently stated my case” would have been a better way to say it. It was late when I wrote this and I was tired.

    Resisting the compulsion to go back and edit the post.

  6. totaltransformation

    April 26, 2007 at 7:19 am

    Wow..just started reading Leet and I am already annoyed.

  7. Christine

    April 27, 2007 at 6:37 am

    Yeah, I have to admit that I am opposed to this mess with almost every fiber of my being. I thought the point of language was to communicate. We have little rules and standards and such to make our communication clearer.

    We make typos and we are lazy. We don’t like being suffocated by grammar rules. We feel super cool because we found other ways to make letters. Umm… yeah… those are horrible foundations for a communication system.

    Oy. And… arg.

  8. Jenn S. (a.k.a. Ducky)

    May 4, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    “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.”

    That is the point—to separate those who know from those who don’t. In other words … to separate the l33t from the n00bs.

    I’m the same as you: I love proper grammar and spelling, edit my posts multiple times, and only let myself relax on the rare occasion I chat with my friends. Sometimes I use a bit of leet as a joke (“pwn3d, “teh,” and “omg haxxorz!!” are funny). But mostly I can’t abide that stuff.

  9. Amanda Beattie

    May 4, 2007 at 10:34 pm



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