Leet

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Leet_Screenshot.png
An example of a Leet web browser (Text instead of GUI) in Leet language on a Leet language version (http://www.google.com/intl/xx-hacker/) of Google
For information about leets as part of watermills, see Watermill.

Leet is the all-alpha translation of "l33t" (the "3" is represented as a backwards "E"), broken down as "l" and "33t," and thus "elite." "leet" doesn't exactly become "elite" until you know how it breaks down. It is an online culture or attitude sometimes identified by frequent use of leetspeak (l33t5p34k, 133t, 1337, or l33t).

The word itself is derived phonetically from the word "elite", and is a cipher, or cryptic form of English spelling. The spelling convention intended principally to bypass automatic text parsers, perhaps because the originators of the convention felt they may be under some form of surveillance, or desired for other reasons to have somewhat private conversations in public spaces — hence the term elite, as only those 'in the know' could easily read what was said (perhaps in an online chat forum, for instance).

The spelling convention of leetspeak is characterized by the use of non-alphabetic characters to stand for letters which bear superficial resemblance, as well as by a number of spelling changes such as the substitution of "z" for final "s" and "x" for "(c)k" or "(c)ks." Letters may be chosen as substitutes for other letters, based on visual similarity. Leetspeak was probably first used by hackers on the Internet, then Bulletin Board Systems, and then later adopted by users of Online Multiplayer Games and other Internet communities.

Spellings do not always follow a set convention, the same word may be spelled differently by different people, indeed by the same person. This is symptomatic of the desire, or affected desire or desire for an appearance of either a desire or affected desire, to elude comprehension by others unfamiliar with the art form.

Leetspeak is not popular amongst all hackers, and nowadays is most commonly used in an ironic manner to represent immaturity or to annoy people. Many consider it a pointless affectation, and as it has become widely used it is less useful as a way of showing membership of an "elite" group. It is nonetheless a cultural phenomenon well known amongst hackers and many other Internet users, especially gamers.

Certain factions maintain that "true" leetspeak is spelled correctly, with the exceptions described above. They do not consider the use of extreme short forms (such as "b" for "be", or "u" for "you") as leetspeak; instead, they refer to it by such terms as "AOL speak". This is because they associate such habits with users who use ISPs like AOL, which is associated with "noobiness" and therefore not considered "elite". Another convention sometimes associated with leetspeak or Internet chatting is capitalizing every other letter (LiKe ThIs), sometimes called studlycaps or stickycaps. A similar habit involves capitalizing every consonant (LiKe THiS).

Contents

Overview

For those who do not normally read or write like +H1$, automatic translators facilitate ciphering and deciphering Leet.
For those who do not normally read or write like +H1$, automatic translators facilitate ciphering and deciphering Leet.

The term Leet comes from the word elite. Leet can be either pronounced as "Leet" (monosyllabic, rhymes with "meat", IPA ) or by pronouncing the L separate from the rest of the word ("el eat" (elite)", IPA ). Leetspeak is a form of written slang or street talk for the information highway. It is sometimes used to create group identity and to obscure meaning from outsiders, especially newbies. It also establishes a hierarchy, as more complex forms of leet are increasingly unreadable to the untrained eye. Consider the phrase "PHr3Ku3N7ly H4s|{3d K0oSt330nZ!" It translates to "frequently asked questions". Note the extraneous h in front of asked and the construction "-teeonz" as meaning "-tions".). Simple forms of leetspeak have become rather mainstream, as employees use the alternative spellings to circumvent their companies' mail filters designed to censor coarse language and other objectionable content. Leet can also be used to disguise text within the object code of a program because it looks very much like binary data when viewed in a text editor.

One probable explanation of its origin is from bulletin board systems (BBSs) in the 1980s and early 1990s. It started with people trying to talk about illegal or otherwise questionable activities, such as software piracy, that some BBS operators did not want to be discussed or carried out via their systems. The operators would filter out certain words or ban people who used them. Most notably the word "hacker" was a common banned word. Rather than stop talking about these topics, some BBS users would simply use variations on the words, for example "hacker" could be replaced by "hack0r" or "h4cker". These variants could be banned too, to which the response was to change the word more and more until it was barely recognizable ("h4x0r", "|-|^><()|z"). Eventually the BBS operators realized that there was no way of banning words in a polymorphic language like Leet.

This later turned into a condition where having "elite" status on a BBS allowed a user access to file areas, games, and special chat rooms, often including archives of pirated software, pornography, and text files of dubious quality documenting topics such as how to construct explosives and manufacture illegal drugs. Some people think that leetspeak or hakspek that shortens text may have been developed to decrease bandwidth usage before the bandwidth explosion of the 1990s, but this is most likely not the case, as such methods would have had extremely minimal effect on actual bandwidth usage.

Something like Leetspeak has regained some popularity in SMS (Short Message Service) media, which often have severe length restrictions and originally required many key presses to spell out words correctly. More recently, leet has re-entered the mainstream thanks to its use on various popular websites such as blogs, webcomics and forums and its widespread use on IRC. As an example of this mainstreaming, Sears introduced the "HE4T" model of Kenmore clothes-washer and dryer, in late 2004. People who enjoy irony sometimes use leetspeak to bring attention to "secrets" they believe no one actually cares about, to joke, or emphasize a nuance. The irony is that now the major use of leetspeak on the Internet is as an in-joke between computer geeks, as genuine usage has steadily declined.

Websites exist that are written entirely in leetspeak. There are also converter programs which automatically convert ordinary English text into leet, at varying levels of complexity.

Leet is also used by hackers and authors of viruses. The widespread backdoor program Back Orifice used port number 31337 to gain access to unsecured Windows computers.

Common transliterations

(subject to a great deal of individual variation):

A 4 or /\ or @ or /-\ or ^ or or д or ằ or G 6 or & or (_+ or 9 M //. or ^^ or |v| or [V] or {V} or |\/| or /\/\ or (u) or []V[] S 5 or $ or z or Y Y or '/ or `/ or V/ or \-/ or j also or %
B 8 or 6 or |3 or H # or [-] or {=} or <~> or |-| or ]~[ or }{ or ]-[ or н or }-{ N // or ^/ or |\| or /\/ or [\] or ]\[ or <\> or {\} or []\[] or ⁿ T 7 or + or -|- or 1 or '][' Z 2 or z or ~\_ or ~/_
C [ or ¢ or < or ( I 1 or ! or | or & or eye or 3y3 or or [] O 0 or () or ? or p or U (_) or |_| or v or
D |) or o| or [) or I> or |> or ₫ J ,| or _| or ; P ph or |^ or |* or |o or |^(o) or |> or |" or |? or 9 or []D or | V \/ or <
E 3 or & or or or € or K X or |< or |{ or ]{ or }< Q 9 or (,) or <| or ^(o)| or or O_ W \/\/ or '// or \^/ or (n) or \V/ or \//
F |= or ph or |# L 1 or | or |_ or # or ℓ R |2 or P\ or lz or [z or Я or ® X >< or Ж

In recent years, leet has dropped out of style in some communities. Some gamers and Internet users choose not to use it as they consider it to signify weakness and immaturity rather than coolness or of "having skills/sk1LLz". However, many words from leet are now a significant part of modern Internet culture, such as "pwned", the common leet misspellings such as "teh" (73|-|), and especially the "z" at the end of words, such as "skillz". Another prominent example of a surviving leet expression is the ever-popular "woot/w00t". Also, gamers for whom using leet speak seriously is out of style, sometimes use it in an ironic sense. "h42 h42, u ar3z s00 1337" or "ph342 m\/ 1337 sk1llz".

Another location for similar text obfuscation is in multiplayer gaming, especially involving other characters from the ASCII set. Some multiplayer games allow for users to be kicked out if they are "being n00bs" or generally annoying the crowd, by using a simple command like "!kick username" which works fine as long as the username constitutes letters that can be typed with a normal keyboard. To prevent some kicks, people may use names such as "E'li'† Hxo'r" which are more difficult to type in.

An alternate theory to this obfuscation while gaming exists, however. While it is true that the use of text obfuscation helps to prevent kicks, often these characters are used to make the player's name appear more unique (perhaps simply because of a nick-clash with another user (or users) of the same (similar) name). One can look at the use of different attributes, such as the ability to change the color of each character in games that support it, as evidence of this theory. This may lead to players feeling that they can "psych out" the competition, as having spent the effort to make even their name superior shows their dedication to their skills.

Examples

Words

For full definitions please see Internet slang.

  • pr0n, pornography
  • w4r3z, "warez" or illegally copied software available for download (with copy protection, if any, disabled)
  • h4x (also "h4xx"), "Hacks" in English, these are usually programs for games that allows a user to cheat and gain an unfair advantage.
  • y0, greeting, used as an alternative for Hi
  • sploitz, (short for exploits) a piece of computer software that takes advantage of a bug, glitch or vulnerabilityexploit (computer science)
  • pwn, to "own" or otherwise completely dominate. Originated due to the proximity of the p and o keys. (See main article for alternative spellings of pwn.)
  • r00t, administrator privileges, from the "root" account on Unix-like systems
  • m4d sk1llz, talent of one sort or another; "m4d" itself is often used for emphasis (such as in "m4d fragging")
  • n00b, from newbie, but not the same thing. Now n00b is meant as an insult, such as "you are a n00b"/
  • w00t or the emoticon \o/, a common interjection analogous to "woohoo!".
  • hax0r, h4x0r, h4xx0r, "hacker". It is possible that the substitution of "ck" with "x" is a linguistic nod to the Greek letter chi (see TeX for the original example of this). Also, haxor is sometimes found as "haxxor", as symbols for "x" are often doubled.
  • rox0rz, "rocks"
  • sux0rz, "sucks", as in "s|_|x0rz my n|_|tz0rz" when one feels pity for someone else, or when angry.
  • suxxor, some other person considered unfriendly; also used in friendly name calling among gamers.
  • ub3r, from the German word ber, meaning "over", as in "Ub3r-l337". Some people say "I am uber cool" or "! @m UB3R c00l! This word can also be spelled as ub0r to better emphasize it.
  • b4k4, from the Japanese word "baka", meaning "idiots" or "stupidity". Example: "U b4k4 n00b.
  • ph33r or ph34r, a respelling "leetage" of fear. Most commonly used as "ph33r m3h!"
  • b7 , means "banned", comes from the pun b& (B-And), the & character being above the 7 character on most keyboards.
  • C|-|!><0|2, for Chixor, a combination of chick and haxor; used in reference to the elusive girl gamer who employs 1337 skillz.

Use of x0r

Note that the construction "-xor" or any variation thereof can be pronounced variously as "-ker", "-zor", or "-ksor" (the latter two being the way the majority of English speakers would pronounce it).

In the phrase "r0x0rz my b0x0rz" (a phrase expressing approval, especially of something computer-related) for example, the "x0rz" in "b0x0rz" and "r0x0rz" is often pronounced as "ksors". Originally in this phrase "b0x0rz" refers not to "boxers" (i.e. underwear) but actually to "boxes" (in computer slang, computers). The more naive interpretation "rocks your boxers" is still meaningful however as the sentiment is much the same.

The term "r0x0r j00r b0x0r" itself is probably a derivation from "r0x0r j00r s0x0r" ("rocks your socks"). It should be noted that although the spelling of leet is fairly standardized, pronunciation differs widely, as does the actual alphabet used. Much depends on which forum, newsgroup, or chat room the Leetspeak is being spoken in.

An increasingly common use of the "-xor" is changing its grammatical usage to be deliberately incorrect. Instead of using "Bob r0x0r", "Bob am teh r0x0r" is deliberately used to increase the level of irony and to separate it from less ironic, true leetspeak.

Phonetic spellings

There are many incarnations of leet, and it is continuously evolving as more people add to it, and thus, a single word can be "spelled" in many different ways. For example, "phonetic" could be |>|-|0n371><, p|-|0|\|3+1|<, |>h0|\|371<, ph0n371k.

Some common spellings:

  • "d00d" for "dude"
  • "joo" for "you", also written as "j00" or "_|00"
  • "ph" for "f", as in "phear" for "fear" (as in "ph34r my l33t skillz") and vice versa, such as spelling "phonetic" as "f0|\|371("

Note that in true leet, the following are considered improper. They are seen more as IM lingo or AOL speak.

  • "kewl" or kwel or ku or ql for cool
  • "r" for are, m for am, y for why, d for "the", b for be, c for see, u for you (giving the common see you: c u)
  • "2" for to or too, 4 for for (but note "4" can also represent an "A" in proper 1337)
  • "8" for -ate, as l8r for later
  • "ne" for any
  • "u 1 2" for "you want to" ("icq"="i seek you" style)
  • "nite" for night
  • "10x" for thanks

Frequent misspellings

Frequently, common typing errors are also absorbed into leet, such as:

  • "aer" for "are"
  • "yuo" for "you"
  • "teh" or "t3h" for "the" (also sometimes used as an intensifier: "He is teh lame"). Another form can also be "deh" (As in "| em deh ro><00rz!!11!").
  • "smrt" for "smart" (This may also be an intentional reference to an episode of The Simpsons in which Homer misspells smart in song whilst burning his High School Diploma: "I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T!")
  • "waht" for "what"
  • "caek" for "cake"
  • "gaem" for "game"
  • "leik" or "liek" for "like", usually sarcastic—generally when making fun of a script kiddies or AOL-er
  • German "ist" for "is", often used with word "death". For example, "mp3 ist death."
  • "pwn" or "pwned" for "own" or "owned". This originates from the 'P' key on a QWERTY keyboard being immediately beside the 'o' key and pressed by the less-than-nimble pinky (little) finger.
  • "flase" as opposed to the word "false"
  • "Evar" or "Ev4r" as opposed to the word "Ever". This is usually used in such phrases as "BEST. GAME. EVAR."
  • "Laymur" for "lamer", as in one that is lame.

Some of these examples, in particular 'teh' and 'pwn' are frequently used on purpose, to lighten up a mood, strengthen a point, or annoy the receiving parties.

Phrases

  • "WHeRE @Re J00" or "Wh3re aer j00?" for "where are you"
  • "wH4+'S j00R nAME" for "what is your name"
  • "/\/\?|<' 1+ |<?11 þ|/\||\| _|??", an example of especially obfuscated leet (see:obfuscated code), this translates to "Mike's leet skills own you".
  • "g0s\/" for gosu, meaning "pro", from Korean players of Starcraft
  • "skilled r0x0rt looking for a team pgm only high lvl, pv me" for "I'm a qualified player looking forward to be hired by a progaming clan in electronic sports, contact me now".
  • "Leet time", or 13:37
  • "1337teen", used commonly on forums and suchlike to denote the 1337th post, pageviews, etc. eg; "My 1337teenth hit"

Over-exclamation

Another common feature of Leet is over-exclamation, where a sentence is postfixed with many exclamation marks: pHu><x0|2z j00 L4yMUr!!!!!!!!!!

In some cases, because the exclamation symbol (!) resides on the same key as the number one ("1"), over-exclamation can be accidentally typed with extraneous digits, owing to the excitement of the typist: y0 d00d th1s 5h1zZ47 R0Xx0rzZ!!!!!11. This was especially likely in the context of online multiplayer games, such as Quake.

Additionally, the adjacent ~ (tilde) and @ keys may be used in this fashion: t3h leik this OwNz!!11!?!??!@!!????//1!!~~ Some users have adopted this and include it deliberately.

A growing phenomenon is deliberately typing the word "one": pwnz0r3d!!!!!11oneoneone, and deliberately typing the words "exclamation mark", as in the next example. In some cases, this has been purposely exaggerated for comic or ub3r-L33+ effect, for example, L0l!!!11!eleventy-one1!1!11one1!!!exclamationmark!!11oneone!1. It can also be used to poke fun at users of AOL speak, and other "lesser" cultures. Note that letter-to-number translations tend not to occur within these "oneoneone" blocks.

Another example of accidental misspelling may also be used in this manner, such as "omg!!11oneoneelven", where elven is the misspelling of eleven. On rare occasions "zOMG!!!!shift+1!!!" has shown up, where the user is taking it further and typing the keyforms that make up letters.

Even more satirical is the insertion of non-one numbers into a phrase as well as improper acronym usage in a humorous way, such as "OMFGWTFBBQ!!11!11FORTY-TWO!!111!!17!1NINE!1111!1!", where 42 comes in as a joke stemming from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series of novels.

Yet another variation of the use of "one" in over-exclamation satire is the phrase "eleventyone," a reference to the distinctive way hobbits say the number 111. Hence "LoL!!!!111eleventyoneone!"

The trend is not limited to English speakers, and in many forums a mix of English and other languages can be observed, for example the Germish, "OMFG das rockt!!!!1111einsshifteins".

Leet as a spoken language

Not much thought is given to leet as a spoken language, for reasons relating to its origins as a sort of evolved form of Internet cipher. While Leet can be pronounced, it rarely occurs outside the mediums of multiplayer online gaming and IRC. It is not known whether this is because Leet, very uncommonly heard by the human ear outside of individual words which have made their way into the vernacular and slang of our time ("pwned", "roxxed," "haxxor", etc.), produces an unfamiliar and awkward sound for both the speaker and the listener, or whether it is because, for the same reason that abbreviations and ciphers are usually omitted from everyday speech, spoken Leet often takes more time to pronounce and articulate than the original sentence.

There may be people who speak almost entirely in the Leet language with words pronounced as they would be spelled in written Leet, but the only such individuals we know about are fictional (see "Largo", Megatokyo) in media where there is no spoken word (in this case, a comic). It is commonly said (in jest) that if leet speakers met and attempted to communicate by speech, they would have to communicate through subtitles.

Leetspeak is, however, extremely common in high school gamer groups, especially in those who frequently play LAN/online games such as Counter-Strike, Unreal Tournament, Quake, Halo, and others. Often, those with a reasonable amount of playing experience in any of these games will make fun of "n00bs" by using Leet to intimidate them.

Rarely, with the introduction of such applications as teamspeak and general real life meeting of familiar gamers, some have been known to pronounce the more common terms such as "pwn" (pawn, pown, poon, pween), "own", and "noob" (nub, noob, newb, naab).

Leet in videogaming

.hack (Dot Hack)

In the anime, video game, manga and book franchise .hack, there is a character named Sora. In the original Japanese versions of the various media, he adds sound effects and assorted strange phrases to his regular speech. In the fourth video game of the franchise, he is a playable character. In that game, his speech turned out to be a problem for the translators. As a solution, it was transposed into Leet, the closest English equivalent.

Alien Hominid

The console version of Alien Hominid uses the term "pwned" in one of its mini-games.

Anarchy Online

A "Leet" is also the name of a furry, cuddly creature in the online massively multiplayer role playing game, Anarchy Online. Leets are cuddly, speak in leet speak, and, within the game's story, are considered a nuisance. The names of the various kinds of leets found in the game world play on leet, with progressively stronger leets named Leet, Eleet, Leetas, Soleet, Phear Leet and Supa Leet, in addition to special unique leets named Joo and Ownz. Their cuteness has in many ways made them a mascot for the game, with calls for plush leet dolls being common, and a special set of leet pets being the pre-order gift for Alien Invasion, Anarchy Online's third expansion.

City of Heroes

Two of the Freakshow villains in the MMOG City of Heroes are named TeH OwNz0r! and TeH PwNxxOrz.

Full Spectrum Warrior

One of the characters in Full Spectrum Warrior, Pvt. Ota or Samuel Jay, speaks leet. A quote from the official website: "He loves his PC, a 1337 over-clocked screamer with OTT case mods."

Kingdom of Loathing

Kingdom of Loathing has many sarcastic references to 1337.

Pocket Kingdoms

N-Gage MMORPG Pocket Kingdom: 0wn the W0rld makes heavy use of Leet and gamer slang in its Non-player character's dialogue. It does so with a comic intent: the game's tagline is "Own the World," which is in itself a reference to the Leet phenomenon. This is partly due to the game being based upon the online community.

Star Wars: Republic Commando

In Star Wars: Republic Commando, one of the commandos named Scorch, when ordered to slice a terminal will sometimes say "no terminal can withstand my l33t h4x0r ski11z".

Tony Hawk's Underground

One of the characters on Tony Hawk's Underground says "l33t" and "r00l" and an online message says "I own3d j00." In its sequel, one of the objective in the story mode is "Berlin Gets Owned", which the player needs to destroy a billboard so that it reads "owned".

Sociological aspects of Leet

Leetspeak can be said to be an expression of some general laws of sociology as it applies to small tribes or cliques which strive to maintain a sense of elitist cultural identity and uniqueness in the midst of the 'ignorant masses' by inventing linguistic and fashion styles. Such behavior is deeply ingrained in the human psyche, perhaps to the point of being encoded in the genes. In literature, the book Lord of the Flies depicts the evolution of such behavior.

Leetspeak often represents an intermediate stage in a user's use of the Internet. First there is the "newbie" stage, where the user is ignorant about the customs and language of the Internet. Next there is the Leet stage, where the user has obtained enough information to "speak leet" to prove their superiority over "newbies" or to simply shorten typing time. Grammar (especially capitals etc) is often ignored in this stage. Many Internet users of high-school age are in the stage. The third and final stage is a more mature stage, where most words are spelt in full and grammar is used correctly. Most major websites are hosted by people in this stage—highly Internet savvy people who only use leet sarcastically. For example, Halo Bungie.org (http://halo.bungie.org) and Penny Arcade (http://www.penny-arcade.com).

One of the currently important uses of such devices as Leetspeak is to allow some legitimate discourse on some subjects that cross the boundary of 'political correctness' in many tightly controlled communication medias. It is also sometimes used as a way to imply certain impolite expressions without causing offence (The emotive impact of these words in raw language overwhelm their denotive meaning), similar to the !@!*@($%) type expressions commonly seen in cartoons to indicate cursing (The desire is to interject the meaning w/o the negative impact). Another common use is to avoid activating automatic filtering systems which will intercept many expressions that are thought to indicate illicit content. Again the normal objective is to exercise free speech, not illicit activity in the general sense of the word. Zero tolerance policies and arbitrary banning of forms of expression by basically unconstrained authorities have made the use of alternate language forms a common tool of expression down through the ages. The use of "P0rn" for instance to reference pornograpy in serious discourse to avoid an automatic E-mail filter from killing the conversation is a simple example.

See also

Examples of leetspeek

External links

Opposing views

de:Leetspeak es:Leet fr:1337 5p34k gl:Leet it:Leet ko:리트 pl:Hack_mowa sv:Leet

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