We believe nowadays there is hardly a person of medium age who doesn’t know how to use a computer or how to text. How updated are you? Do you use all these moderns tricks to rock your messages?
Recently, we have spoken about emoji which became a modern trend of today’s communication. Today we want to talk about another tendency of these latter days.
Have you ever encountered a number of acronyms and abbreviations that made you scratch your head in trying to figure out what they mean? These are called Internet slang, chatspeak, netspeak, cyber slang or Internet shorthand.
What is Internet Slang and Social Media Acronyms?
Internet slang refers to various kinds of slang used by different people on the Internet. It is difficult to provide a standardized definition of Internet slang due to the constant changes made to its nature. However, it can be understood to be any type of slang that Internet users have popularized, and in many cases, have coined.
An acronym is a word or name formed as an abbreviation using the initial components in a phrase or a word, usually individual letters and sometimes syllables.
They are popularized by the thousands of online users. In several cases, they were also the ones that coined many of these Internet shorthands. Actually, the original terms used by text message senders were born out of necessity, because of the limit in the number of characters in the early versions of mobile phones.
However, Internet slang was created when the Internet was still new but some of the words used were older than the Internet. While they facilitate communication with those who know and understand them, it can take twice the time for uninitiated people to decipher what they mean, if at all. They could be troublesome, especially when the people chatting are not of the same generation or of the same age. It could be embarrassing, to say the list, to ask the person you’re chatting with for the meaning of the acronym that she/he just typed.
Internet slang also stunts people’s ability to communicate properly. They negate many of the practices and expectations associated with the written and spoken language. They present a hard-to-solve issue to translation services providers as well, because they are difficult to translate into other languages.
On the other hand, the Internet becomes a fertile ground for the development of new slang due to the availability of information, enabling the creation of new languages for various online groups. Internet slang in effect provides online communities with their own identity because they are able to coin new words specific to their needs.
What is the source of this popular phenomenon?
Internet speech is so rich and constantly evolving, it is difficult to keep up with it. But the Internet is not the only source of these new acronyms, phrases, words, and abbreviations. Some came from broadcast media while others are from popular shows. Real life also brings a big contribution to the emergence of such words.
Let us introduce some of the Internet shorthands
It is impossible to mention all of the acronyms and slang, but let’s have a look at those that may be found easily at any social communication platform.
- GR8 (great) – This is an abbreviation for “Great”
- AMA (Ask Me Anything) – an authority on a subject fields open questions.
- DM (Direct Message) – a term used for a private communication with someone.
- Lag – Lag is when a computer application is slow to respond, or any other device slows down because of a poor connection or old hardware.
- TBH (To Be Honest) – It’s a filler phrase people use it when they feel like what they’re about to say is extra honest
- IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) – Can be used before stating your opinion on a matter being discussed.
- IRL (In real life) – When you’re talking about something that exists offline, you can use IRL to mean “in real life.”
- ELI5 (Explain Like I’m 5) – When someone gives a complex explanation for an event and you need them to say it in a more understandable way, this phrase is the one to help you.
- TIL (Today I Learned) – When you learn about information that isn’t new but is novel for you, share it with the world by adding a “TIL”.
- Totes / Adorbs – “Totes” and “adorbs” are shortened versions of “totally” and “adorable.”
Acronyms in other languages
Now, here’s something different, not new, but in different languages, which you can use to wow your friends.
Thais are also updated when it comes to netspeak or chatspeak. One of the most common acronyms, LOL is 555 in Thai. This is because the pronunciation of the number 5 is similar to ”ha” or the letter ”h” therefore typing three 5s in succession is like saying ”hahaha.”
Your Portuguese friend might be typing SQN, which translates to só que não. In English, the nearest equivalent is ”just no,” which is something you can use when you are not in the mood to do anything.
Another Portuguese acronym with the closest translation in English is a ”good deal” is BBB or Bom, Bonito, Barato. Individually, the words mean good, pretty, cheap but BBB is better sounding.
There are some technological limitations for languages that are not written using the Latin alphabet but as they say, things are invented out of necessity. Therefore, it brought forth the Arabic Chat Alphabet, also called Franco-Arabic, Arabish or Arabizi, where they are able to write some Arabic words quickly by combining the Latin alphabet and Arabic numerals. The letter qāf is represented by the number 9. In the Latin alphabet, this is the letter Q. So when you see ”9alb” it stands for qalb or ”heart” in Arabic.
Be aware: a new vocabulary
The Internet has brought about many things that are extraordinary. Now, there are some words that are even given new meanings. These are closely related to emojis and memes that are also in vogue today.
- Lurk/Lurker –this is someone who visits a forum, blog or website often but doesn’t leave any comments.
- Nomophobia – a word that combines the Greek term, phobia or panic and a ”no mo,” which is short for ”no mobile phone.” A nomophobic person is the one who panics when he or she is without a cell phone.
- Knowmad – people who roam the world and share their travel experiences by uploading tons of pictures and videos of places they have visited on their social media page. It’s a combination of ”knowledge” and ”nomad.”
- Wexting – a combination of walking and texting with the head down. It refers to people who cannot seem to let go of their phones and continue to indulge in exchanging text messages, unmindful of where they are going.
Isn’t it GR8?
Learning more is always a chance to be up-to-date. Knowing more things of the popular trends is a great possibility to communicate a bigger audience and not to feel left out. In a way, this Internet slang and acronyms enrich your vocabulary indirectly.
While they are predicted to stay, with some officially getting included in dictionaries if people keep using them long enough, remember that these cannot replace proper grammar. They help online to speed up online communication especially for the younger generation, but they should also be weaned from using Internet speak for their own good.