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8 Comments

  • Hmmmm, call me a neanderthal but I’m not so sure about replacing letters with numbers. Numbers are pretty hopeless on mobile keypads and keyboards anyway so I don’t buy the argument that the point of leet is to reduce keystrokes. Leet reminds me of Europanto though due to its wider circle of users it has a much bigger chance of survival.

  • Thanks for the comment. The reason for replacing letters with numbers and other characters was to get past text editors on Bulletin Boards in the 1980s and as a cipher for hackers to communicate (something I will go into more in the next post) .

    While certain international forms of Leet still use this technique to beat censorship, it is the other idiosyncrasies of the sublanguage that make it great for reducing keystrokes; adoption of abbreviation, dropping off ‘extraneous’ vowels and consonants and word invention.

  • The business of omitting vowels reminds me of when I was a cub reporter learning shorthand, many moons ago. In general, shorthand (Teeline anyway, don’t know about Pittman but I’m guessing it works on the same principle) only uses consonants, and relies on context for you to work out what you actually meant. So the symbol for ‘this’ is the same as the symbol for ‘those’ and ‘these’. When you transcribe something immediately, it works just fine, but if you decide to leave it till after the weekend or some such, who knows what you’re going to end up with! And then, of course, the more advanced you get, the more you truncate symbols, so the phrase ‘around the world’ is suddenly represented by about 3 characters. Or was that just a slip of the pen . . .

  • Omitting vowels is correct for Teeline. However, with Pitman it is about the position and weight of the outline (above, on or through the line) which, represents what vowel sound should be determined and inserting other sounds (triphones – 3 syllables); diphones – 2 syllables, etc) in the correct position. The fundamental difference between Teeline and Pitman is that Teeline is written from the alphabet we already know and the positions of outlines retained, whereas, Pitman is almost like learning a new language with sounds! (Heavy sounds: Pa may we all go too = (long) ah ay ee aw owe ooh ) (Light sounds: That pen is not much good = (short ) a e i o u uw). I taught both Teeline and Pitman. Teeline is much easier to learn, but as you say if you leave the transcribing too long it could result in problems with the final transcription. Although, the sense of what one is reading should prevail! And, of course, one can always substitute for a new word if the general gist is there!

  • Adam Smith may have been an economist but the development of Leet may well have been more influenced by the “invisible hand” of economics than we suspect. Way back in the early days of computing when mainframes had less memory that a musical birthday card and took up more space than a Hallmark store, the number of characters you used in coding actually had an impact on your system. Redundancy was a “bad thing” so anything you could do to save space was virtuous. The simple shift to using ONE space between sentences instead of TWO (a hang-over from the typewriter) gave measurable savings. And in those days, memory was expensive so it made economic sense to reduce text input.

    Even today, economics drives textual representation in cell phones. Originally, texting was measured in term of message size and so brevity was not only the soul of wit but the heart of savings. Long messages cost more money so shorter was the way to go. Similarly with IM’s on a computer, where the cost online time using a dial-up was directly proportional to the length of your messages – again, you got more “bang for buck” if you could rattle out 20 really short messages in 5 minutes versus 5 long ones.

    Of course, as costs come down, the economics become less critical, but I suggest that in the development of such “minimal text” systems, Adam Smith may have had more impact than Noam Chomsky!

  • […] Part 1 of the blog Pwn leet speak, thinks that parents and people such as the authors of this book “missed the main reason for the popularity of the sublanguage, and seemed to be aimed at determining whether ‘children’ were involved in illegal online activities”. […]

  • This is not a sub-language that regular internet users use. L33t speek is more of a gamer language, people who play competitive or casual video games on computer. L33t speek doesn’t exist on Xbox or PS3 or any other platform. The sub culture of pc gamers is few and far between, producing sites like lolcats or meatspin, also the term “rick roll’d” originated from the pc gaming sub culture. L33t speek is very rarely used nowadays, although is used in gaming such as brb bio or afk door. It is hard for an outsider to understand this sub-culture, but once you get around them, most of them are quick-witted and intelligent.