Saturday, May 25, 2013

Geek Pride Day: Geeky Linguistics, Part 1

Since today is "Geek Pride Day", which is from the Spanish Día del orgullo friki, we thought we'd start out by telling you about this wonderful day and the effect that geeks have had on the English language, not to mention many others!

If you've read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the
Galaxy, then you know what this is all about!
So why the 25th of May? Well, if you're geeky and old enough, you'll remember that today is the day Star Wars was released back in 1977. It's also when the first Towel Day was held, exactly two weeks following the death of Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. If you're a fan of the Discworld books, which we most certainly are, it is also the Glorious 25th of May. As if you need any more reasons to be geeky today, or any other day for that matter. 

One of our favourite elements of geek linguistics is 1337 (or Leet, to those less nerdily-inclined), the wonderful language of chat rooms, message boards and general online discussion for many years now. You can generally spot 1337 by its blatant disregard for the Latin alphabet and use of numbers in place of letters. The practice came around to avoid filters on chat rooms and message boards. Curse words would often be censored and sometimes, especially when someone disagrees with you on which Star Trek captain is better, you need an expletive to tell them exactly what you think of their dumb opinion. 1337 enabled uncensored communication across the information superhighway. 

The concept was fairly simple: replace certain letters with numbers. 1 is i or L, 2 is z, 3 is e or E, 4 us A, 5 is s, 6 is G, 7 is T, 8 is B, 9 is g, and 0 is o or O. This allowed users to avoid censorship and use words such as pr0n for "porn", and 1337 for "leet", short for "elite". 

The letter 'x' was often used to replace the combination 'ck', and -or replaced what would commonly be an -er suffix. This lead to words such as haxor for "hacker" and suxor for "sucker", as in someone who sucks. 

The letter 'z' became a popular suffix and was often added to suxor to make, obviously, suxorz. The word n00b was used to describe newbies, or the generally uninformed, because in internet nerd culture it is assumed that everyone knows everything about everything, and it is safe to insult newbies from behind a computer screen where one cannot be punched. Despite being language nerds, we feel this is probably enough geekiness for one day... read part 2.