Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Say What? The Leetspeak Rosetta Stone

Microsoft has published a parent's guide to Leetspeak. Leetspeak is an online vernacular used in chatrooms, in online messaging, and other electronic communication mediums to obfuscate or enhance messages [depending on how you look at it]. The link takes you to the full text.

Leetspeak: A parent's primer to computer slang, Understand how your kids communicate online by Microsoft Security at Home

Leetspeak, or leet for short, is a specific type of computer slang in which a user replaces regular letters with other keyboard characters to form words phonetically. Though it was originally used by computer hackers and online gamers ("leet" is a vernacular form of "elite"), leet has moved into the Internet mainstream. Your kids might use it online for fun, and you might even have seen a word or two used by your own friends and associates online.

Leet words can be expressed in hundreds of ways, using different substitutions and combinations. Nearly all characters are formed as phonemes and symbols, so with a bit of practice leet can be fairly easy to translate. However, leet is not a formal or regional dialect; any given word can be interpreted differently by different groups of people. The following serves as a brief (and by no means definitive) introduction to leetspeak.

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