A fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, August 23, on leetspeak, or an evolving language or vernacular from the world of online gaming. And the reporter, Christopher Rhoads, did a nice job presenting the topic. his lede:
TEh INTeRn3T i5 THr3@+EN1N9 t0 Ch@n93 thE W4Y wE $p34k.
(Translation: The Internet is threatening to change the way we speak.)
My question, and I’d like JoMC 711 folks to chime in here (and hurry; WSJ migrates public content behind its archive walls fairly quickly), is whether in terms of linguistic development this in fact represents progress or regression? It’s an oft-repeated debate — emoticons had us writing profs all in a tizzy — but one worth revisiting, especially given how popular gaming has become. The videogame industry dwarfs the film industry in terms of sales.
Also take a look at the feature the WSJ added to its online presentation of Rhoads’ story. It juxtaposes leetspeak with everyday English using excerpts from one of the interviews he did. I like that use of online to add a layer of information to the story and another dimension to the reader’s experience.
Footnote: “Leet” apparently is slang for ‘good’ or ‘great.’ It also can mean or refer to a soft-finned fish.
Footnote2: Lake Superior State University this year included “pwn” on its annual list of banned words and phrases — those it considers misused, overly used and just plain useless. Others on the list included “awesome” and “Gitmo” (shorthand for Guantanamo Bay).