Friday, February 25, 2011

N00b? PWN3d? Forget English, try 1337.


I'm not having a complex migraine, seizure, or a stroke. Nope.

I keep seeing this cryptic speak insinuating itself into our language and did a little investigating.
Have you heard of Leet? (1337 or l33t, in leet-speak)

Leet, which originally derived from "elite" is an alternative alphabet for the English language that came about from 1980's computer hacking and online gaming.

One of the hallmarks of leet is the substitution of letters or numbers for similar looking ones in the standard alphabet.
Misspellings are commonly part of leet as well (the=teh)

Some of the more commonly known leet words that have come into everyday usage include:
w00t ("we owned the other team", one among many possible origins)
n00b
("newbie", not in a good way.) Addendum: see Erinn's comment below.
pwn3d
(or "owned", as in, getting defeated badly in an argument or game)

Can you imagine writing a novel in leet?
No? Me neither. But the language is pretty fascinating. I could imagine how it could find its way into a cyberpunk novel. It probably has, and one of you is going to tell me about it.

This might come in handy, if you feel the need to email someone and make them think they're having a neurological accident:


Leet online translator
Wikipedia on Leet
Urban Dictionary (warning--some bad language on this site)

H4V3 4 9r347 W33K3nD!

65 comments:

Terri Tiffany said...

LOL! It gives me brain problems trying to read it. I think I will stick to the old-fashioned way, thank you:)

Anne Gallagher said...

Oh, just another thing we'll probably have to learn to get published. Yikes.

They're letting my daughter write in ebonics in school and let me just say, I am not thrilled.

And they wonder why kids can't spell today, with texting, ebonics, and now Leet. Ugh!

Have a great weekend.

Christine Danek said...

I'm still trying to figure out texting speak. Holy cow. I need to brush up on my languages.
Have a great weekend!

Lord Gwydion said...

Unfortunately, in the gaming circles of the internet I hang out in, leet is all too common in certain hives of scum and villainy.

Can't say I'm a fan, though.

Erinn said...

No, Noob doesn't mean newbie, it mean asshole. It means someone who is coming into a situation and thinks they know everything about it. Someone who hasn't learned the rules that govern the social group. Or they have learned the rules but they don't care.

(My book was called Pwning nOObs and Becoming a Rock Star)

Rachna Chhabria said...

Interesting post, I had not heard of this. I prefer plain old fashioned writing.

Lydia K said...

Thanks Erinn for the correction. Duly noted.
:)

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I have never heard of it and being English I should have will look this up and learn more about it.

Yvonne,

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

I could make out a few of those words...essentially that post pwn3d my brain this morning. I had no idea it was called Leet or that it was an official language. I just figured the few times I had seen it, it was just urban slang. But an entire alphabet...no idea. You always keep me well schooled m'dear and for that I <3 you
Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend!

salarsenッ said...

Wow! So this is where my kids got the word n00b... Interesting. I have to say, though, that I'm very thankful we writing in plain English. This Leet stuff does my brain not likeith!

Matthew Rush said...

I believe the p in pawned is suppose to indicate 'professional ownage.' At least that's what some 13 year old playing xbox live told me.

Linda Kage said...

How cool. After the explanation, I was actually able to read that! Well except for fR49 as kill. But I could kinda sorta understand why FRAG would mean kill. i guess!

Thanks for sharing. It did sorta give me a headache.

Jess said...

Craziness (and pretty cool too)! I'm showing this to my teenager when she gets home from school--she'll think it's awesome--noob is one of her favorite words :)

Lord Gwydion said...

Linda Kage--the term 'frag' as in kill comes from soldiers murdering unpopular officers with fragmentation grenades. I know the term was used in the Vietnam War. Not sure if it was used before that, though.

In gamer culture, it means a player vs. player kill.

mist of the blossom rain said...

Whoa! This is so cool! I don't think I could ever master the language of leet. I would need two weeks of silence, and a whole lot of aspirin!

Munk said...

Grubeat pubost Lubydubiuba.

Mubunk.

Lauri said...

I wondered where "woot" came from.

storyqueen said...

My midschooler uses pwn3d. They pronounce it "poned" at her school. And if you really beat someone in a game or burned them with an insult, you committed an act of "ponage".

Kids = weird.

Shelley

Emy Shin said...

:D I totally did not know w00t and n00b are 1337-speak!

I can't imagine reading an entire novel in leet, but by the time I got to the last sentence, my reading speed was considerably fasting than it was previously. Maybe I'd get used to it?

Connie said...

Oh, this is making my head hurt.

Carol Kilgore said...

You answered a ton a questions I'd wondered about here. And I learned this strange language has a name. Thanks!

Old Kitty said...

Oh no, no, no!!! I'm just about able to read a sentence made up of txt words but this... oh my poor old brain!! :-)

It's fascinating though and very clever!! I'm a n00b! Take care
x

vbtremper said...

Scary and fascinating all at the same time.

-Vicki

Jonene Ficklin said...

I have teenagers, and it'll be good to not make them laugh for once because I'm so far behind the times. Thanks for the heads-up!

Jai Joshi said...

My brain is hurting.

Jai

Laurel Garver said...

Wow, is this still news to people? Among the college kids, l337 was in its heyday in like eight years ago. Even a lot of text slang seems to be dying out as features like autocorrect make it quicker and easier to write grammatical texts.

While l337 itself is not so hip anymore, the idea of a technology spawing its own peculiar language is a great idea for SF writers to explore.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Or make that person think his mind is going!

Amy said...

I have a friend who would be offended that someone in the comments would put 1337 after texting. But for the most part, I don't think the greater majority of the populace knows or cares enough for it to truly effect we writerly types.

Olga said...

I'm so amused when I see this cryptic language used on car plates. It can be quite funny sometimes.

Heather said...

I was getting worried about you there for a second when I saw the picture! LOL! I have heard of this actually. I haven't seen it in a novel or heard it mentioned in one but I imagine there are a few out there.

Kari Marie said...

I've said Woot before and I had no idea what it meant. I don't think I've been using it right.

Thanks for an enlightening post. Always interesting learning where this stuff comes from.

Krispy said...

I've known about l33t for a while, but it makes my head hurt. So I've avoided it when possible. You have some SKILLS to be able to write so much of this post in l33t!

On the other hand, I do use w00t and pwned a lot. I can thank Alz for that. Randomly, w00t was like Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year for 2007. I remember because it was inducted into the online version of the dictionary, and I was telling my roommate what it meant ("we owned the other team). She thought it was hilarious because she imagined "team" like a sports team.

Melissa said...

I've seen N00b before but none of the rest of it. I had no idea this was even a language possibility!

Sarah said...

<3!!!!!!!!!

Meredith said...

Haha, I definitely didn't know these! Hilarious.

Lydia K said...

Krispy, I have no skills. I used the online conversion thingy. It was awesome. I didn't even know about the kill = fR46 = frag thing until I read the comments. The translator did that for me too!

Ann Best said...

Hilarious! But I'll stick to the old-fashioned way!

Thanks for your kind comment on my writer's journey. I was last stop on L'Aussie's blog. I thought she did an amazing thing for the seven of us writers whom she hosted. She spent much time on this!

And I'm grateful because I got to meet some new bloggers/writers, including you. You sound like a VERY busy woman, Lydia Kang. Your facebook photo is lovely!

I'm now a follower and hope to keep in touch.

Ann @ Long Journey Home

Holly Ruggiero said...

Yep, that would give me a headache.

The Golden Eagle said...

Actually, I've read books that have had leet in them. Since I'm not a gamer or anything, it was confusing at first--but if you think about it all those numbers and letters do make some sense. :P

jbchicoine said...

I don't like LEET one bit--it scrambles my already jumbled brains...
...you have a nice weekend, too...:)

Carol Riggs said...

Haha--fr3aky! What's w3ird is h0w y0u can skim it w/0 thinking t00 much, and y0u KNOW what it says! At l3ast m0st of it.

N0, I w0uldn't want t0 r3ad a whol3 nov3l that way. It w0uld b3 wors3 than Laur3n Myracle's ttyl nov3l, which I had a difficult tim3 r3ading.

Jayne said...

No, nO! I don't like Leet. It hurts! I'm too much of a purist. There's playing, and then there's really messin' with the head. Leet is definiteLEET the latter.

Margo Berendsen said...

I first ran into it in Snowcrash, a popular cyberpunk novel. But I honestly didn't realize that woot was from Leet! So cool !

Happy to meet another crusader that i've already met before (old follower) though it's been a while!

The Red Angel said...

Haha! Nice. x) I actually have heard of 1337 but I never knew what it actually stood for.

Chatspeak drives me crazy, but it is fun to say "w00t" and "n00b" hehe. :) My friends and I actually use those words in real life haha. Ex: What a n00b.

~TRA

http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

Maria McKenzie said...

Fascinating. I wonder what that translates to in leet:).

Elizabeth Briggs said...

I have a secret soft spot for leet speak ever since my days of online gaming. Sadly I now spend all that time writing, but every now and then I get the urge to pwn some noobs. ;)

Ciara said...

That is so cool. :) I would not want to write a novel in Leet. LOL.

Hanny said...

My 25-year-old, male friend has 1337 tattooed on his lower back. A nerd tramp-stamp. Does that make him cooler? I don't know who I am anymore...

Indigo said...

Fascinating, even for a die-hard like me. I still text complete words on my cell phone and refuse to use text short hand just to make it easier.

I can definitely see this in a dystopian novel or geek eccentric book. Now I want to practice leek speak. Strangeness abounds

Here's a site that actually translates text msg. and chat abbreviations:
http://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/textmessageabbreviations.asp

(Hugs)Indigo

J.Ro said...

You have a blog award!
http://jrowrites.blogspot.com/2011/02/my-first-blog-award-thanks-kelly.html

lbdiamond said...

Ha! This is funny!

Lois D. Brown said...

I had a friend who used to write that way. Does that date me?
Anyhow, my name is Lois and I'm your newest crusade follower. My blog is www.idevourkidbooks.blogspot.com

... Paige said...

hows about this...

U R Flshlit Flwr

you are my flashlight follower at my place

thanks for following

Angie Ledbetter said...

I've got enough handling regular english and textese, thanks. You have a great weekend too (if that's what the Leet blurb says). :)

The Words Crafter said...

Ha! Don't read this if you already have a headache!!!!

Anne's comment tickled me. I text so much that I have to retype nearly any email I send out, and quite often, my comments, too.

This, however, defeats me. Wow!

Alleged Author said...

It is interesting how these words come about in daily speak/writing. I know there are a *couple* agents who want fictionalized blog books where this language is commonplace.

Medeia Sharif said...

Interesting. Some of my students are leeters.

Susan Fields said...

I haven't heard of that before. I'm still trying to figure out what my kids' texts say. :)

Ghenet said...

I've never heard of this before! But it's interesting to see where "w00t" came from. I use that word all the time.

WritingNut said...

Heheh.. I know a couple of these, although I learned the term "n00b" just the other day ;)

Bathwater said...

I think we are watching our language morph in front of our eyes. With our longer life spans and the rapidly changing technology it is not surprising that spellings and language should change more rapidly also.

alexia said...

Super interesting! I heard of a book that didn't have a single 'e' in the whole thing. Meaning, no 'the'. Can you believe that?

Phoenix said...

LOL I'm a geek, so I totally use l33t. :) I can't believe you posted about this - I never see anyone explain it!

A lot of the terms come directly from WoW (World of Warcraft) and since most of my friends are gamers I've picked stuff up.

Pwn3d actually came about bc on WoW it was supposed to say "owned" and the person who wrote the code put a "p" instead of an "o" and made it instantly infamous. :)

Awesome post, Lydia. I love it when gamers get their due.

PurplenightJenkis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PurplenightJenkis said...

Frag is a military term they use for the word 'kill'. ^^ I hope that helps.

 
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