Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Word of the day: "TEH"

Somebody on my college list-serv inadvertently sent us an email including this in the subject line: "... courses for teh world..."

After 30 responses, all retaining her typo, somebody asked: "Oh, please fix it!" (As a former typesetter, I'd been wincing too.)

Our classmate Ben Yagoda then wrote in defense of the word TEH:

A sneak preview of my forthcoming book, When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It: The Parts of Speech, for Better and/or Worse (Broadway Books, February), from the chapter on articles:
Probably the single most ironic rendition of the is the word teh, which so offends Microsoft Word and other word processing programs that they instantly transpose the second and third letters of it. (I managed to retain the word by typing tehe, then, when the sentence was over, deleting the second /e/. This allows the word to remain but doesn't do anything about the annoying squiggly red line under it.)

In the in-group Internet slang known as Leet, teh is used as an intensifier for both adjectives and verbs, as in "He is teh lame" and "This is teh suck."

That reminds me of the word "dokh" in Yiddish, which means "duh," or "obviously" or "really really."

As usual, I can't keep up - in fact I'd never even heard of Leet, so I looked it up. From Wikipedia:
The term itself is derived from the word Elite, meaning "better than the rest," and generally has the same meaning when referring to the skills of another person.

The mechanism began because early online communication was quite slow, and people sought ways to shorten messages, so that they could be delivered more quickly. A similarly probable answer is that early users of BBS systems and other online boards were not skilled typists ...

As Internet slang grew (such as w00t, teh, and so on), it was absorbed into Leet (and subsequently enciphered). Along the way, additional languages began to be enciphered with Leet-like processes (see krieg, ist below). In this regard, Leet resembles a creole language, a pidgin, or mixed language.

Because of its popularity with children, parenting organizations have seen fit to warn parents about the cipher. ... Guides have been published to help parents decipher their children's Leet-enciphered communication.

The entertainment industry has also joined in, with Numb3rs, Se7en and S1M0NE.

In particular, speakers of Leet are fond of verbing nouns, turning verbs into nouns (and back again) as forms of emphasis (e.g. "Bob rocks" is weaker than "Bob r0xx0rz" (note spelling) is weaker than "Bob is t3h r0xx0rz" (note grammar)).

Example sentences in Leet

Example: +3|-| q(_)1(|< |3r0\/\/|\| ph0x j(_)/\/\p5 0\/3r teh |@z`/ [)06.
Translation: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Example: ! _/(_)$7 134|?/\/3|) vv#47 1337 /\/\34/\/5.
Translation: I just learned what Leet means.
In other news, the dogwoods are turning red, there are a million mushrooms outside, and I met somebody yesterday who appears to have read my entire blog. I didn't know such a thing was possible.

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