with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Leet – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Well, I learned something new today. Leetspeak. Have you heard of it? I guess I’ve been out of the states too long.

Someone referred me to Leet, and explained that it is actually most commonly called 1337 or l33t5p34k, 133t, or l33t. Are you shaking your head? I was.

It seems that the true nerds of the world got together on chats around the Internet and developed this cryptic lanugage which is actually not a language as much as it is a novel way of spelling in English. Wonder what this would look like in Russian? Yikes. Anyway, users of Leetspeak use non-alphabetic characters, like numbers and sumbols, to replace english letters to spell a word so it “kinda” resembled the original, like 1337 can look like l-e-e-t, if you think about it.

They also use phonetic sounds to replace letters, like gr8t.

While it came out of the old Internet bulletin board systems, it continued and expanded through the development of online chats and forums. American Online users, a vastly youthful group, really expanded its usage as a method to speed up their chats and create a cryptic language of their own without the trouble of actually learning a real language.

According to the wiki definition:

Leetspeak is not popular amongst all hackers, and nowadays is most commonly used in an ironic manner to represent immaturity. Many consider it a pointless affectation, and as it has become widely used it is less useful as a way of showing membership of an “elite” group. It is nonetheless a cultural phenomenon well known amongst hackers and many other Internet users.

It’s amazing what you learn when you start prowling around and meeting new people. Some will tell you the darnest things, some things you wish you never knew, and others will just dazzle you with their amazing collection of useless information.

I’m not sure what to classify this under, but it certainly is a little lesson in Internet culture.

One Comment

  • Andrew
    Posted June 5, 2005 at 22:44 | Permalink

    It started out, not as “internet culture”, but almost as “wannabe” internet culture. Huh? Early in the 1990s, with the advent of microcomputers that didn’t entirely suck, it came to pass that they were networked together, as you might expect. But connections to the “real” internet among the micros were rare. Instead, the “BBSes” came up with their own ways of exchanging mail and news, and their own tight-knit communities.

    Among these communities were plenty of people who would have been completely unable to get onto the Internet at the time — teens and young adults with far more in the way of arrogance than computer skills. But their arrogance was quite a force: they fashioned themselves “hackers”, after the great programmers and tricksters of the “other” network, ruining the name in the process. Speaking in l33t was just another way to demonstrate their imagined superiority over the common folk.

    These days, there are only two major uses: in the “warez scene” (what a surprise), and as a parody of the combined cluelessness and arrogance of the original 133t-sp3k3rz. Also, over the years, modes of communication including ham-speak, IRC jargon, l33t, and AOL-speak have merged together so that they can be difficult to tell apart.

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