A Quick Guide to Common Chatspeak
You are walking sleepily toward the kitchen at 7:30 Monday morning. On the way there, you are ambushed by a couple of your pets begging you to make a gigantic breakfast, although they’re already going to be late for school without eating even cereal.
“Mum, plz can we have pancakes?” you hear one moan.
“OMG, yes; your pancakes are so pwnsome, Mum,” another one says.
“Glomp, I pwn Mummy and her pancakes,” your littlest puts in, hugging you. You blink in bewilderment. Where on Neopia have your pets learned to speak a language you can’t understand? Why didn’t you notice?
You fend them off, trying to get to the kitchen, when the doorbell rings. Naturally you must answer it. You open the door, with your pets crowding around you, and there’s a delivery Kougra on the front stoop.
“If you could plz put your siggy here,” he says, shoving a clipboard at you. You take it, bewildered. What did he just ask you to do? Is this some kind of weird nightmare, where everyone speaks a foreign language? Your hands start to sweat. The delivery guy is tapping his foot, looking impatient.
“It doesn’t need to be spiffy, n00b,” he spits out. You are now shaking with fear. Your head becomes fuzzy, your tongue feel thick. You have no idea what to do...
Let’s halt right there. Press stop, rewind a bit. Let me explain: this is not some kind of nightmare come true. Nor is everyone speaking a wackily different language. They are simply using what is often referred to as ‘Chatspeak’. Oh, yes, you say, I’ve heard of Chatspeak, that evil creature! But no, Chatspeak is not really evil. It can be a very handy tool for quick writing, and expresses emotions well. As long as you follow a few rules, that is. This guide is meant to introduce you to the very basics of Chatspeak, give a little bit of history, and some helpful hints on when to use and when to avoid. We’ll start with some of the most commonly-used words, and by the end of this guide, you should be able to converse reasonably well with your teenage pets (for some reason, it’s the teenagers that just love Chatspeak), and understand your delivery man.
Plz/pls: Pronounced ‘pl-uz’. Although daunting at first, this is really just what’s referred to as a ‘contraction’, or a squeezing together of a word (or two, or three). It is a contraction of the word ‘please’, and means exactly the same thing. See how it sounds the same, and even looks a bit alike?
Use it... or not? I recommend not using this unless you are ABSOLUTELY sure whoever you are talking to is not grammar-orientated. This is a word that frequently upsets people (I, for instance, get this odd twitch whenever someone says it), so use with caution.
Lol/LOL: A very interesting Chatspeak-ism, not to be confused (on pain of death) with ‘lolz’. Both forms (LOL and lol) started out as the words laughing out loud. LOL is the first letter of each word. Laughing (L) Out (O) Loud (L). Hence LOL. Nowadays, it doesn’t necessarily mean ‘Laughing out loud’, however. You don’t really have to be laughing out loud to say this word. It is often used to express small amounts of amusement, much like a grin or smile.
Now, there are two ways to pronounce this word, which is why I saved pronunciation for after explanation. Some people prefer to say the letters (ell oh ell), and some people nowadays like to say it as a word (pronounced like ‘loll’, as in ‘to loll around’). Whichever you use is up to you.
Use it... or not? Most people don’t mind this little three-letter Chatspeak word. Or rather, acronym. Unless you’re hanging out with a bunch of Grammar Freaks that are right now checking to make sure ‘you are’ is properly contracted as ‘you’re’, then you probably don’t have to worry.
Lolz: Since I have just explained lol, I felt it necessary to right away come to lolz.
This can be thought of as a lot like ‘lol’, and did originate from the same words. Pronounced ‘lawlz’, in a low, southern-style drawl, it indicates sarcastic humour, and is usually found in teenagers who are mildly amused at something. My Kougra thinks it is the coolest word invented, which should give you some idea of his personality, as well as the word’s uses.
Use it... or not? I would hesitate to use this word, unless you are absolutely, positively sure it will not offend the person on the receiving end. Some people do not take well to sarcastic comments. Not to say you can’t use it, just don’t come running to me when you ‘lolz’ your neighbour’s bushes and find a watering can aimed at your head.
OMG: Another wonderful acronym! Pronounced ‘oh-em-gee’, this one stands for the words ‘oh my gosh’ (an expression of surprise). OMG generally has a lot more magnitude than its original words, but it is the same thing: an expression of shock/incredulousness. Add an ‘h’ or ‘z’ to the front for added umph.
Use it... or not? Almost anyone will understand and accept this particular acronym. It’s commonly used and wide-spread, so don’t hesitate to HOMG someone finding a Draik Transmogrification Potion.
Spiffy/Spiffeh: This means (pretty literally) ‘cool’. A ‘spiffy font’ would be a particularly neat font. Pronounced ‘spiff-ee’ or ‘spiff-eh’.
Use it... or not? This is another very mild, non-controversial Chatspeak-ism. I wouldn’t worry too much about using it. Practically everyone has shown off their spiffy new font or avatar (or pet or... but you get the point) at one time or another.
Glomp/glomps/tackleglomp: A very unusual Chatspeak-ism, this is one of my favourites. Pronounced exactly as spelt (gl-OMp), it’s almost always found between two asterisks (*), like *sigh* or *cough*. It’s an excited greeting, used on people who are very welcome or much anticipated. It’s like a hug, flying tackle, and excited squealing all wrapped into one.
Use it... or not? There are places where *glomps you* is used to welcome everyone and anything, and is very common. And then there are places where the people stare with mouths open and tongues hanging slightly out when you use it, having no idea themselves what it means. Although once more widely-used, it’s a very selective word now, and only some groups use it.
Pwn/pwnful: The uttermost ranges of cool and wonderful. Pronounced poh-nd, to rhyme with ‘owned’, which it originated from. It basically means the same thing. If someone pwns your sunglasses, you should be very pleased and respond with a ‘thank you’, not ‘excuse me?!’. To be pwned is a high honour, and should be accepted as such. Pwnful things include muffins, carrot cake, shinies, and disco paint jobs.
Use it... or not? As with all Chatspeak-isms, this should not be used around Grammar Freaks. Otherwise, it’s perfectly acceptable and often used.
Note: When used in accordance with ‘Meepit (s)’, pwned has a different meaning entirely. Then it means ‘high’ or ‘amazing’. For instance, if one were to say ‘Meepits pwn’, they would be meaning that Meepits are infinitely cooler, pinker, and creepier than anyone else, and are our overlords and should be treated as such.
Siggy: Not exactly a Chatspeak word, this is basically just a shortening of ‘signature’ (in this case not the signing of your name, but the words that go below your post on the Neoboards). Pronounced Sig-ee.
Use it... or not? It’s practically a real word, anyway, so there seems no reason not to use it... except that a lot of people probably won’t know what you’re talking about. (Take me, for example.) You may have to do some explaining, so if you’re just trying to carry on a normal conversation, you may want to leave this one out.
N00b: Thought to have originated from the common term ‘newbie’ (someone who is new, and hence doesn’t understand the rules and may come off as rude), this is a derogatory term for one who is rude/speaks incomprehensibly/is purposefully annoying.
Many people mistakenly use the term to refer to anyone who asks a question that the person deems ‘n00bish’ or ‘dumb’, when it may well be an innocent question asked by an innocent, but ignorant, being.
Use it... or not? This is not a very nice word, so unless you are joking around (and be sure not to joke around Grammar Freaks!), keep this in the back closet.
Well, that concludes my article of common, everyday Chatspeak-isms! I hope that you have found this little guide useful, and are now properly equipped to go out into the world and brave the masses of plz and those pesky n00b-lovers. (Not to mention your pets and the delivery guy).
Disclaimer: The author and any of her associates are in no way responsible for any physical and/or mental harm that comes from using these or other Chatspeak words.