On terrible, awful internet speak.

First of all, in case some of you were wondering, “totes” is not a word.  Well, okay, when used in the sense of, “He totes his piano over to the cliff and drops it,” then yes, it totes is.  But it should be obvs that that is not the usage I’m talking about.  I’m talking about internet speak,  I know some of you think it’s adorbs, but you’re wrong.

Now, my editor, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, hates these things (and, beeteedubs, so do I).  So please, make sure that, when tweeting, emailing, or, especially, talking to her, you never ever use them.  It would be totes wrong.


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Site administrative account, so probably Corwin, Felix or DD-B.

0 thoughts on “On terrible, awful internet speak.”

  1. I think *you’re* totes wrong! And totes cool. For you are l33t, and can haz steak burger!

    But TNH is totally correct on this one… :)

  2. This new “hip” slang entering into our lexicon is the work of no good long haird punks!
    *shakes an angry fist up to the sky*
    These liberal-minded Kruschev-loving pinkos need to have some good old fashion government sanctioned enforcement of the American values of freedom like it was done in Ike’s day.

  3. OMFG my BFF G3Tz TOTES AgRO on N3WBS n sites! I’m LiK3 WtF roflololol

    — I think I gave myself a nosebleed putting that together

  4. But how is your editor going to cope with knowing the secret ancient language of the House of Hawk is descended from netspeak?

  5. Wow. Reading “beeteedubs” actually felt a little bit like biting down on a ringing tuning fork.

  6. I had to look “totes” up on urbandictionary to have any idea what you were talking about. Does that make me lucky or just out of touch? Or both?

  7. Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs. I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot txenitg was locuirdus!

  8. We have been fighting this battle ever since BBS days. L337 (Elite) speak was the norm for teens on the Internet in the early days when they thought they could fool adults with it. Of course, we could read every word, and only with a pogrom of mockery did we eliminate it. A little survives in the short forms we still use (TTYL, OMG, ROFL, pwn, etc.). It does not surprise me when little minds recreate some of it and think they’re inventing something new, but in the long run, mature English will always prevail.

  9. @20- Actually, many of those made up words are the reason that language evolves. Thus why many dictionaries now contain the word “bling” among other words that which, until recently, were made up by pop culture.

    Like it or not, crunk, bling, and I’m sure other words, which make those of us who prefer English to stay as it is collectively groan, are here to stay.

  10. Incrediballz! Hard to belive that in a day where books only exist in THE CLOUD and softwarz run all; that there is even a need for fleshy editors anymorz.

  11. Well, if language is a virus, why shouldn’t it make your head hurt sometimes?

  12. @20 – Such has been said in every generation of humanity since the invention of language. The vast majority of code words any given generation comes up with are discarded, but those that everyone finds useful will be kept.

    Don’t use what offends you; the langage will evolve very nicely without your input.

  13. @20 I can almost hear your disdainful sniff as you construct the scene in your mind where my 30-something friends and I sat around deciding to abbreviate adorable to adorbz and discussing excitedly how our secret new use of mangled english would be the first of its kind, marking us out forever as special and interesting. To fill in some more detail for you on the tableau, we drank bottles of the finest ESB and ate ring ding goat cheese pizza, sharing a hotel room at a small SF/F convention in the wilds of western Massachusetts. I believe I was wearing a three wolf moon tshirt, but I don’t quite recall the sartorial choices of the other kids.

    Perhaps someday wise comments such as yours will convince us to use pure, mature english.

  14. The point of leet wasn’t to fool adults, it was to fool FBI keyword sifting software.

    I’m not sure your decoding of the secret hearts of the young is going as well as you think it is.

  15. From what I recall, L337 speak derived from the pager days. A time when all you could do was leave a series of numbers as a message. So each number (understood based on context) became a letter. It is also where sequences like 143 meant “I love you” I will concede to the notion that this encryption method was thought of before the invention of the pager, but it certainly wasn’t used by the common public until teenagers started using pagers.

    The common usage of “totes” “BRB” “pwn” etc… is just a reminder that the average person is quite lazy. Not a lot of people are willing to type out “Be right back.” all the time, every time they wish to use it. It saves time and gives the typing fingers less to do. Just think of all the energy you can save for the “more important” writing in “mature english”!

    Wait… does it work that way? ;-P

  16. I never heard of that word until I read your page this morning. I am not quite getting my mind on what it means, nor how it came to be a word. But apparently it *is* a word, even if it is short-lived. That’s the way our language works.

  17. A buddy of mine is a high school English teacher in Pennsyltucky. He requires all of his students to write their first paper of the year in text speak ONLY. Then hands it back with a promise to put an F on any paper in which any of those words appear.

    Languages evolve primarily due to ignorance (failure to use perfectly adequate words because they are not properly understood) and laziness. (Paarfi’s notes on how Bengloarafurd came to be called are illustrative of both tendencies.)

    I’ll happily fight a rearguard action by not using text words and internet words in anything I write, particularly when I am texting. I will send back corrections to my ex-wife’s emails when she uses makes a gerund of “scrap book” (she recognizes me so well in that.)

    The issue, for me, comes not from lazy speech and ignorance, but what it leads to in communication. No finer analysis of the perilous consequences of this pernicious problem exists than Eric Arthur Blair’s essay “Politics and the English Language.” After reading that essay with some care, consider that author also wrote a nice little treatise entitled the year of Reagan’s “Morning in America” campaign.

    Every time I have to buy or build a new book case, I thank very editor who stands up to this most awful problem; and I also curse the few but ever more who either don’t know or don’t care.

  18. skzb:

    Zoiks!!! (Yes, I use that word, which requires at least two exclamation marks, though three is safer. I think I got it from watching “Scooby Doo.”)

    Thanks for the recommendation. Just read a sample chapter — 15 — online, will be paying for a real live book. I found myself chuckling and cheering at once. Thinking upon it, I’ll get two and send one to be unread by my daughter who just began her college career.

  19. Heu wwoow stuuff i cen undestan hear woh. Nozing cin be reeel cuase iiimm on sshhrooms look at a prity colooars man wow aannd the funni lil animaals thaa Doon Chuan proomized to prootext me from. hheeey Don thars aa
    big scari one comin out a wall yu gon st0p at rayt Ok tthen il kip talkin to de ll3337 guys.

    Cooool duude can yoou teeaxhc at fur me. I needs ta tuype sooz i cin bee unastoot tooo, whoow tha big uns still com out wall Don Is got look not lik bunny waht yo promis oohh so OK is spose to has tentcles Ok then I taLk smer to l3e37 duuzz.

    oh man y got try Don juans ligion its cool don wory bougt real sheet just dus Shrooomz ohh Don sez not shroooms is payout-E hheee some kin noo stuf wi drug n computors HEEY DON ZAT THING IN WALL COM OUT O WALL TENTCLES GOT MU ARM UGH BEAK HIT MU SKULL


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