One of my secret hobbies is reading Wikipedia
entries on subculture vernacular.
More on this shortly, but first a sidetrack.
Subcultures are things I have feared greatly. This comes from developing photographs and, specifically, developing photographs of swim meets. Perhaps the most accurate way to express my dread is to say I have feared the competitive swimming subculture. I cannot understand people who dwell around pools of chlorinated water with stopwatches and nachos from inherently wet
concession stands. This lack of empathy results in fear: a fear so great that it spills beyond its walls and results in a frightened perspective of all subcultures.
It warms me not when I discover I am a participating member of various, albeit non-competitive-swimming, subcultures.
Back to the subject at hand:
Being a part of the so-called "gaming" subculture, I am capable of writing in and comprehending the twisted dialect known as Leetspeak. Popular usage of Leetspeak is different from most dialects in that much of its life comes from satire
of the broken, unsystematic way in which 13-year-olds post to internet forums. Leetspeak, as it exists in the non-13-year-old linguo-sphere, does however have a fairly regulated grammar. There is also fairly detailed and precise etymology.
Now, this is often funny to Leetspeakers and the public at large since the dialect is based in obfuscation of standard grammar; it's like a less cutesy Pig Latin. For instance, I might tell another leetspeaker (or let slip in a conversation based in normality), "y0 d00d d1s 5h1zZ47 R0Xx0rzZ!!!!!11" and that would be perfectly understood. The world of leetspeak is one where "the" becomes "teh", "own" becomes "pwn", "you" becomes "j00", and extraneous exclamation marks metamorphose into "111" or even better "oneoneelven". Mispellings and mis-hit keys today become prescribed grammar tomorrow.
Since there is a history and form to all of this, it's possible for linguists to write seriously about this bizarre, satirical form of written communication. In fact, not only is it possible, it's been done. Wikipedia
(quite possibly man's greatest invention to date) features lengthy, elaborate and scholarly studies on leetspeak
and its most popular terms. It's at once hilarious and enlightening. As such, Wikipedia has become a consuming diversion for me while not geeking it up in internet/gaming communities. Some examples within:On Teh:
Besides being an alternate spelling of the, teh also has grammatical properties not generally applied to the. It can be used with proper names, as in "teh John"; compare the usage of the definite article in Greek: ο Ιωαννης, literally "the John". A similar usage comes from German, where the definite article is used as a specifier to modify the noun: "Der Johann"...
Some people believe that the word was originally a contraction of the term "power-owned", "pure ownage", "pistol-owned", "perfectly owned", "ping-owned", "player-owned", "professionally owned," or "properly owned". These are probably back-formations.
This word was coined around 1975 at MIT. Under ITS, when you first walked up to a terminal at MIT and typed Control-Z to get the computer's attention, it printed out some status information, including how many people were already using the computer; it might print "14 users", for example. Someone thought it would be a great joke to patch the system to print "14 losers" instead. There ensued a great controversy, as some of the users didn't particularly want to be called losers to their faces every time they used the computer. For a while several hackers struggled covertly, each changing the message behind the back of the others; any time you logged into the computer it was even money whether it would say "users" or "losers". Finally, someone tried the compromise "lusers", and it stuck.
The fun goes on for hours and hours and hours.