30 July, 2021

gOoD eNgLiSh? WTF is that? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

LMAO, WTF, TIL and TL;DR aren’t just an exasperating farrago of digitalese. Internet patois carries a subversive social power.

gOoD eNgLiSh? WTF is that? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Of the many apologies I owe for my years of being an idiot online, the first is owed to my childhood classmates. Somewhere on some Silicon Valley server, bey­ond my own reach, are early-2000s MSN Messenger chats in which I have, with proper title-casing and punctuation, accused them of complicity in the downfall of the English language. Their crime: using GTG and LOL.

I didn’t know, at 12 and 13, that living languages exist in a permanent state of such downfallings, constantly welcoming new additions as new shared experiences call for new shared vocabularies. So when the world faced a shared need to condense IRL non-verbal cues—tone, expression, body language—into the 160 characters after which an SMS would split into another, costing an extra rupee, the compression of “I’m laughing out loud” to “LOL” was really undeniably sensible.

That tone-work has now expanded into its own dialect. “LOOOL” is warm but “lol” is cutting; “hahahaha” is “that’s funny” but...

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