Net slang: The language of the future?

This post originally appeared on the Contact Infinite Futures SF blog on September 27, 2011.

Inventing a believable alien vocabulary is a huge challenge. But inferring futuristic English is no easy task, either.

In STELLARNET REBEL, I operated on the assumption that leetspeak, chat acronyms and gaming memes would work their way into mainstream vernacular by 2062, as Generations X, Y and Z age into senior citizens. So, my characters use many of these words and phrases, even if they are news reporters, doctors or military officers.

Readers tend to respond to this in one of two ways:

1) “u haz stuff off teh internets!”

2) “How in the world did you make up so many slang words?”

Which reveals who spends all their time gaming and reading 4chan, and who doesn’t.

Readers with reaction #2 are surprised to discover that I invented very little of the futuristic slang:

– “l’up” (look up, as to “l’up” some information on the net)
– fresh/stale (for good/bad)

The rest are words I lifted straight from chats and MMORPGs. Here are several examples that appear in the pages of “Stellarnet Rebel”:

– cosplay (costume play, dressing up as a fictional character)
– epic (incredible, wonderful, immense)
– fail (messed up; if very bad then “epic fail”)
– full of win (awesome)
– Imma (I’m gonna)
– k tnx bai (OK, thanks, bye)
– k or kk (for OK)
– lag (slow response time, such as when playing an online game)
– lo (hello)
– looking for group (or LFG; “seeking a group to adventure with”)
– nom (act of eating, or the item eaten – “Imma nab sum noms”)
– noob (person who is new to something; a mash up of “new” and “boob” pretty much sums up this word)
– owned (defeated, bested)
– prolly (probably)
– scope (check out)
– shipper (often seen in fanfic and discussion boards, refers to fans who are jonesing for two characters or two people to be in a relationship)
– smart mob (real-life assembly mobilized by technology)
– smexy (smart and sexy)
– squee (the noise a happy little girl makes – and trust me, they really do; my 7yo squees a lot)
– squishy (in gaming, someone who dies easily, such as a wizard or healer)
– sup (short for wassup, or “What’s up?”)
– tank (strong warrior with high armor class, tough)
– uber (from the German for “super”)
– ur (your, you’re)

So, what do you think? Are these chat, computer and gamer terms around to stay for awhile, or will they go the way of “rad,” “far out” and “the cat’s pajamas”?

~ J.L. Hilton

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