ah, leet, the language of the geek. to speak leet, you more or less need to un-learn proper english. the history of leet goes back to the early days of online message boards, or forums, where users can post messages to carry on a threaded conversation. in an attempt to "clean-up" the language that users would sometimes post, admins added a filtering system to the message board which would replace restricted words with some type of alternative. for example, the word "crap" might become "crud." it didn't take people long to figure out that you could get around this filter simply by altering the original word somehow, like changing "crap" to "c-r-a-p" or "krap" or "crrrap." it was soon obvious that these filtering systems could never possibly cover every variation because people would just keep inventing new ones, and so leet was born.
in the most generic explanation, leet is merely replacing certain letters of the alphabet with numbers that bear a slight resemblance. l becomes 1, e becomes 3, t becomes 7, and so on… leet becomes 1337.
in a not so generic explanation, leet is also a play on words. the word leet itself is actually a shorter, easier way of saying the word "elite" which the dictionary defines as: the best or most skilled members of a group. an odd thing about the internet is that when certain trends catch on, they seem to spread on a massive scale. leet is one of those trends that just wouldn't die; instead it grew and is still growing to this very day. another popular trend to spread was aybabtu (all your base are belong to us) which is just one horribly translated line out of many from the video game "zero wing." then there was "star wars kid" where a home video of some kid swinging a pole around was uploaded to the internet and altered to make it look like he was swinging a light saber. nobody knows why these things spread like plagues but they each share a unique taste in humor. anyway, back on topic, every true geek knows leet.
below i have provided a simple translation table to cover some common transitions and words. please bear in mind that the syntax can vary:
as you can see there is a lot of slang involved, some of which you might even be familiar with. aol (america on-line) is the acronym listed above, which is an internet service provider. aside from normal words, leet branches out to acronyms as well. lol (laughing out loud) becomes lawlz, rofl (rolling on floor laughing) becomes roffle, roflmao (rolling on floor laughing my arse off) becomes roffle-mayo. if you haven't guessed it yet, leet is a complete mockery of the english language. typos are encouraged; in fact, an urban legend floating around the internet states that it deosn't mttaer waht oredr the lteters in a wrod are, so lnog as teh frist and lsat ltteer are at teh crroect pclae. teh rset can be a taotl mses and yuo can uslauly siltl raed it wothuit any porbelm. of course, if you experiment with that you'll soon find that it isn't always true, but still interesting. typing in various caps and multicolored text is not 1337.
you know you've met a real guru when they blurt out "lol" or "lawlz" instead of actually laughing. i've witnessed it happen. keywords tend to stand out in a geek's ears.
when somebody wants to express an action with typing, it is usually done so with smilies or an emoticon (emotion icon). smilies and emoticons are usually limited by whatever instant messaging program you're using, and often times there is no emoticon for what a person is feeling, which i'll get to in just a minute. to trigger a smiley/ emoticon the following syntax will usually suffice:
the trick is to tilt your head sideways either way. you will see that the colons are eyes, the dash is a nose, and the end symbols are an expression. of course whatever chat program you're using will translate these into little pictures, if it supports them. that should give you the basic idea of that, but when there is no smiley to express yourself you can always simulate an "action." let's say i want to shrug. i could either type *shrugs* or /me shrugs; which implies that i'm making a gesture. if somebody wants to correct a typo, they simply use one asterisk following the korrect spelling of the originally misspelled word. correct*. many acronyms aren't technical at all, but rather make common phrases easier to say, such as afk (away from keyboard), brb (be right back), bbiab (be back in a bit), ttyl (talk to you later), imho (in my honest opinion), etc.
just because you know how to speak leet is no excuse to speak it all of the damn time. it is funny when used appropriately, but otherwise completely annoying. leet should only be used when you're feeling powerful and/or energetic. there are also many different flavors of leet: it can be used lightly (a few leet characters), or heavily (practically all leet characters). if you would like to research one of the original, true masters of leet, search google.com for the name "b1ff" and also pay close attention to his incredible web design skills.
let's practice a few leet sentences.
hopefully you've got a pretty good idea by now of how leet is used; it's not an entirely complex language. as with any language, the more you're subjected to it the more it will sink in. i will occasionally be using leet throughout the rest of this book to help keep you refreshed.