Rekt? Bae? Lordt? Fleek? I bet you do not know any of these words. Do not feel too bad. I did not know what these words meant before I took this language quiz on trendy phrases. While we are on the subject, is it possible that the written language emerged when the World Wide Web and social media entered the picture? These shortened phrases are trending across texts, emails, and social websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Whether people are on mobile devices or computers, words like rekt and bae are inspired because of rage-inducing games or describing one’s love interest. This might be a small group of popular words used across the web, but there are huge libraries and sub-categories of phrases similar to these. These up-to-the-minute abbreviations are all a part of the internet slang, and it has become its own language that continuously changes the written language of today.
According to Know your meme, Internet slang “consists of a number of different ways of speaking, sub-languages, expressions, spelling techniques and idioms that have obtained most of their meaning on the Internet.” Many sub-languages and techniques of Internet slang include shortened acronyms, emoticons, letter repetition, flaming, and so much more:
The phrases rekt and bae fit under the acronym category because they are shortened versions of “wrecked” and “before anyone else”. The sub-languages of internet slang will appeal to a variety of users, and still makes a huge impact on the online community. But with internet slang being such a diverse and gargantuan encyclopedia, how is it a pop culture piece in the 21st century?
What makes internet slang unique is that it is constantly being modified. Depending on the popularity of newfangled phrases, they will do two of the following: become a fad and fade out instantaneously, or will live on and become part of the written language. One word in particular that hit the mainstream is “YOLO”. Meaning “You Only Live Once”, YOLO was prominent in the song “The Motto” by the rapper Drake featuring Lil Wayne in 2011.
Disclaimer: “The Motto” may contain language or visuals that may not be suitable for younger audiences. click here to view the video.
Drake even used the word on his twitter account on October 23, 2011, and it had a huge following from other users.
Even if Drake was just a regular user on twitter, his words inspired many people at the time and they immediately adapted the word as part of their communication. According to the Two Step Flow Theory, which was coined by sociologist Paul Lazardfeld, it tells us that “we are more likely to be influenced by other people than the mass media”:
These people are known as opinion leaders, and their audiences are restless in the process of social conversation. The picture of Drake standing on the balcony was symbolic to his audience members, and the words he chose to describe the scenery sticks with his followers. They decided to instantly apply those words to justify their behaviors and lifestyles as well. The word has become so immensely popular, that it has become an official word in the Oxford’s Online English Dictionary:
“You only live once (expressing the view that one should make the most of the present moment without worrying about the future, and often used as a rationale for impulsive or reckless behavior)”.
But do not get me wrong, YOLO is not a perfect word. It can be over used to describe negligent actions:
and people based their opinions on how notorious the word can be:
Whether good or bad, YOLO has influenced the public in so many ways.
Emojis, the visual images that has a variety of facial expressions and symbols, have also become a part of the written language. It started to become popular around 2008, and many apps were released. Because of the emoji’s simplistic design, it’s become its own sub-language for internet slang. Emojis have not only been used in messaging, but has grown profoundly popular as lyrics in a song, a narrative for a story, and a plot for a movie. Since it is a sub-language, it opens an opportunity to learn how they work as a whole:
In forms of popular media, emojis inspired the creation of Emojidick. Created by Fred Benenson; a data engineer, Emojidick is an emoji translated novel that is based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. It was published in 2010, and can be purchased as a paperback in black and white or a hardcover in full color as of today.
There was even a parody of emojis on a youtube channel known as Smosh, a web comedy created by Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla. Known as “Molestor Moon”, this video showed a darker and creepier side of emojis, and how it can affect friends if its name is mentioned three times through instant messaging.
Disclaimer: Molestor Moon may contain language or visuals that may not be suitable for younger audiences. click here to view the video.
Whether Emojis can be as sophisticated as emojidick or as perplexing as “Molestor Moon”, some of these ideas work for the audience and there are some that turns them off immediately. However, these creations with emojis are being talked about through those audience members. According to Linda Holmes article: What Monkeys Eat: A Few Thoughts About Pop Culture Writing she states that popular topics such as
“Justin Bieber, Duck Dynasty, Breaking Bad, Gravity, and — yes — even Miley Cyrus twerking are all examples of what monkeys eat. Some good, some bad, some completely baffling. But all things that are making their way into a lot of people’s thinking, and provoking all kinds of conversations that we might not have otherwise.”
The internet slang is an emerging language, and it has changed written communication for many users of the World Wide Web. Some phrases and sub-languages will fade and disappear, but there will be others that will take their place and last longer. It is a language that will stay with us for a long time because of the technologies and techniques used that innovate online discussions.