Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Internet: A Language of its Own?

by Melissa Smith

Ever since the early nineties, when instant messaging was all the rage and Facebook wasn’t even a twinkle in Zuckerberg’s eye, a new language has been developing: Internet speak. What started as timesaving, acronym-heavy chatroom talk has rapidly expanded into a world of its own, connecting Internet users across the globe with its somewhat mind-numbing, occasionally incomprehensible misuse of the English language. A thought perhaps even more terrifying is that as keyboard slang continues to grow, the line between the online world and our own is beginning to blur. With terms such as LOL, or ‘laughing out loud’ (not lots of love, Mum), and OMG being added to the Oxford English Dictionary in recent years, it’s easy to see how our language is becoming more and more influenced by laptop-wielding teenagers.

In light of this, here are a few of the most recent words and phrases to baffle Internet users and others alike:

1)   Troll

The ‘troll’ or ‘internet troll’ refers to the keyboard warriors who seem to spend the majority of their time trying to annoy as many people on the Internet as possible. Examples of troll-like behaviour may include leaving hurtful and/or nonsensical comments on Youtube videos, such as ‘u suk’ or ‘herp derp’, spamming online forums with links to Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, or just generally using anonymity to their antagonistic delight.

2)   ‘I ship it’

‘Ship’, short for relationship, is used as a verb or noun when pairing together two fictional characters or real people in a romantic situation. When shipping, the names of the two characters are usually forged together into one collective word. For example, ‘I ship Dramione’. Common derivatives of this include: ‘I will go down with this ship’, or ‘I ship it like FedEx’.

 On a similar note, the couple that you ship may well be your OTP, or ‘one true pairing’.  This refers to the two people, whether in a tv show or real life, that you think are perfect for each other, regardless of gender/sexuality. To combine the two concepts: ‘OMG I totally ship Klaine, but Britanna is my OTP’

3)   Feels/’I can’t even’

 Feels, meaning the overwhelming emotion felt at a certain situation or event (e.g. a tv episode or a book), is short for feelings, and can be used in a myriad of approaches, such as ‘Oh man, this episode is giving me all the feels!’, ‘Ooft, right in the feels…’ or ‘I know that feel bro.’ It can be used in moments of great sadness, or great happiness. If one is completely overwhelmed by the emotion felt, this could even be described as a ‘feelsplosion’.

‘I can’t even’, is used similarly to feels, in situations of overpowering emotion or hilarity. Being used mostly on Tumblr (a blog and social networking platform), it is unknown even to many regular Internet users.

4)   WHAT IS AIR?!
 This is another Tumblr term, used as a sort of mating call on other sites to find fellow Tumblr-ites, primarily on the video chatroom Omegle. A conversation may go like this:

Stranger: Hey
You: Hi
You: What is air?!
Stranger: Omg!!! (gives link to their Tumblr page)

The original use of the term stems from the inability to breathe after hearing or seeing something devastatingly hilarious, such as a video of a pug climbing up stairs.

In conclusion, it looks like LOL is going nowhere and, along with the other, perhaps even more unintelligible sayings and phrases, is set to stay for quiet a while. As the Internet expands and increases, so too does the language used within it. Fads come and go; perhaps in a few years time nobody will be questioning the material content of the substance we breathe or exclaiming ‘OH MY GOD’ at the most remedial of situations, but no doubt there will be something else they’re saying that has little to no basis in the English language. Language itself is constantly being changed and influenced by those who speak it, no matter how much others would like to protest. This doesn’t mean that in the future we’ll only speak in acronyms, but perhaps words like ‘YOLO’ will be even more commonplace than they are now. For the sake of humanity, I sincerely hope not.


  1. Internet language is cool

  2. It's confusing.

  3. I don't use internet language, it is just really annoying to hear everyone say 'Oh YOLO'...

  4. People have started to use internet language in normal conversations. Some people when they have found something funny will say LOL. What happened to just laughing.


Comments with names are more likely to be published.