l33t or Eleet (sometimes rendered Leet, 1337, or 31337), also known as Leetspeak, is an alphabet used primarily on the Internet, which uses various combinations of ASCII characters to replace Latinate letters. The term is derived from the word "elite", and the usage it describes is a specialized form of symbolic writing. Different "dialects" or varieties of leet are found on different online forums.
Initially, the word l33t was used as an adjective, to primarily describe the behavior or accomplishments of others in the community, with “lame” being its antonym. In that usage Leet generally carries the same meaning when referring to either the game prowess, n00b ownage, or, in original usage, hacking expertise of another person. From adjective form its use then expanded to include use as an expletive or interjection in reaction to a demonstration of the former qualities. With the mass proliferation of Internet use in the 1990s into the 21st century, Leet has since become a part of Internet culture and slang. Leet may also be considered a substitution cipher, albeit with much variation from user to user.
Leet originated within bulletin board systems in the 1980s, where having "elite" status on a BBS allowed a user access to file folders, games, and special chat rooms. One theory is that it was developed to defeat text filters created by BBS or Internet Relay Chat system operators for message boards to discourage the discussion of forbidden topics, like cracking and hacking. However, creative misspellings and ASCII-art-derived words were also a way to attempt to indicate one was knowledgeable about the culture of computer users. Once the reserve of hackers, crackers, and script kiddies, Leet has since entered the mainstream. It is now also used to mock newbies, or newcomers, on web sites, or in gaming communities. Some consider emoticons and ASCII art, like smiley faces, to be Leet, while others maintain that Leet consists of only symbolic word encryption. More obscure forms of Leet, involving the use of symbol combinations and almost no letters or numbers, continue to be used for its original purpose of encrypted communication. It is also sometimes used as a script language.
One of the hallmarks of Leet is its unique approach to orthography, using substitutions of other characters, letters or otherwise, to represent a letter or letters in a word. For more casual use of leet, the primary strategy is to use homoglyphs, symbols that closely resemble (to varying degrees) the letters for which they stand. The symbol chosen is flexible—anything that the reader can make sense of is valid. However, this practice is not extensively used in regular Leet; more often it is seen in situations where the argot (i.e., "secret language") characteristics of the system are required, either to exclude newbies or outsiders in general. Another use for Leet orthographic substitutions is the creation of paraphrased passwords. By using this method, one can create a relatively secure password which would still be easily remembered. Limitations imposed by websites on password length (usually no more than 36) and the characters permitted (usually alphanumeric and underscore) requires less extensive forms of Leet when used in this application.
Some examples of Leet include: B1FF and n00b, a term for the stereotypical newbie; the L33t programming language; and the webcomic Megatokyo, which contains characters who speak Leet.
0 can be used for O (or D) 1 can be used for I (or L) 2 can be used for Z (or R and Ä) 3 can be used for E 4 can be used for A 5 can be used for S 6 can be used for G (or B) 7 can be used for T (or L) 8 can be used for B 9 can be used for P (or G and Q)
Warez (nominally pronounced /ˈwɛɚz/) is a plural shortening of "software", typically referring to pirated software. Phreaking refers to the hacking of telephone systems and other non-Internet equipment. Teh originated as a typographical error of "the", and is sometimes spelled t3h. J00 takes the place of "you“, originating from the affricate sound that occurs in place of the palatal approximant, /j/, when you follows a word ending in an alveolar plosive consonant, such as /d/ or /z/. Also, from German, is über, which represents a quality of superiority; it usually appears as a prefix attached to adjectives, and is frequently written without the umlaut over the u.
We looked at many different sites about leetspeek and learned that leet finds its base in written communication over electronic media. Most simply, it has evolved as a way of forming exclusive cliques in on-line communities, notably Bulletin Board Systems and online multiplayer.
The mechanism began simply: early online communication was quite slow, and people sought ways to shorten messages, so that they could be delivered more quickly.
Some wrongly believe that the origin involved using a dynamic cipher, so that only experienced users would be privy to the message. As a result, newcomers would be excluded from communication with those who had defined (and continued to evolve) the cipher.
Part of this is true. When modem use became widespread and a large general audience gained access to online communication systems, these new users did not understand the abbreviations commonly used by the experienced users. These experience users became known as "elite users", abbreviated as "leet".
As a folk group, the leet community is unique in that almost all communication takes place through the internet in a text-based environment. Therefore, unlike other folk groups, leet folklore does not have its roots in oral tradition, but rather in digital mediums such as in-game chat windows and online forums. Among the many millions of people who use the internet, the leeters form a tight and exclusive group. Advanced knowledge of game strategies, gaming etiquette, computer technicalities and coding serve to separate members of the leet community slightly from the masses, but the true group identity becomes most defined through the group’s folk speech. Jan Harold Brunvand, a long-time expert on folklore, states that “The easiest test of a folk group’s existence is to identify a specialized informal vocabulary […]” (Brunvand 79). As implied by this statement, leetspeak plays an extremely important role in shaping the leeters’ group identity and making them unique from the rest of the online community.
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