Internet connects a number of diverse people and groups. Language is one of
the main distinguishing characteristics from group to group, with each group
having its own unique words and expressions. Such diversity is similar to
different professions or ethnic groups employing a dialect. Communication
features that are constant across the Internet dialect groups include the
emoticons, e.g., “:),” and common abbreviations, e.g., “lol,” but
there is a great deal of diversity as well. This study focuses on the
morphology of a dialect of a specific Internet group—Gamers. The Gamers are
simply a large group of people who play online games.
Most of these Gamers devote hours of their time each day to playing.
They play such games as “Everquest,” “Ultima Online,” “Asheron’s
Call,” “Unreal Tournament,” and “Quake.” Many gamers play more than
just one game. A commonality between all of the aforementioned titles is that
the players of such games form teams, which they call guilds
or clans. This research has been focused on the Quake players,
specifically the players of Action Quake II. The research has been done
primarily on their clan chat rooms on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and through
in-game observation. The chat rooms and in-game discussions are the clan’s
primary means of communication, and therefore the best environment to study
few linguistic studies have considered the topic of Internet dialects. The
studies that have been conducted focused on the Internet dialect as a whole
and did not look at the diverse groups on the Internet that communicate
differently. Studies in the communications field have focused on the main
Internet dialect as well, although those studies did not look at the language
from a linguistic point of view. Studies in sociology discussed Gamers
overall, but did not linguistically analyze language. Furthermore, almost all
of the studies found are dated, and the language has changed from the time of
the research. Because of the apparent lack of linguistic studies in the field
of Internet dialects, this research is one of the first of this type. No study
has looked at the specific dialect groups of the Internet. If nothing else,
this study will prove that there is more to Internet language than a single
dialect and that language of the World Wide Web is extremely diverse and
first studies that will be discussed dealing with the Internet are not
linguistically oriented, but rather come from the communications field. The
first, a book dealing with Internet language as a whole, is called Flame
Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture (1997). It consists of sixteen
articles by various authors about the dark side of cyberculture and its
language. The article for which the book was named, “Flame Wars,” briefly
discusses emoticons, or text expressions. Another article, “New Age Mutant
Ninja Hackers: Reading Mondo 2000,” discusses the computer Hackers. It does
mention some words they use; however, the article’s focus is on a computer
conference, Mondo 2000. None of the
articles discusses Internet language in detail. They only scratch the surface.
The second study was an undergraduate research project completed by Reid
(1991). She discussed how ‘internet relay chat’ or IRC posed problems for
current theory in communications. She discussed the nature of IRC and listed
many of the common words that were found on IRC. The study is very dated. Many
of the expressions that she claimed are popular have become extinct, and many
new expressions are not mentioned.
Breeze (1997) wrote an overview about the Quake gamers from a sociological
standpoint. She gave an overview of the game, focused on the Gamer’s sense
of community, and briefly discussed their language.
these three specific examples of non-linguistic oriented studies, many
“Internet dictionaries” are available. Such titles include Webster’s
Computer and Internet Dictionary (2000), Net Speak The Internet
Dictionary (1994), and The New Hackers Dictionary (1996).
Interestingly enough, The New Hackers Dictionary does focus on
one specific group’s language, Internet Hackers. Unfortunately, no
linguistic analysis of the hacker language is present, as the book is simply a
Two linguistic studies also have been done on the Internet dialect. Hodges
(1999) discussed a specific Internet language feature in her master’s
thesis, “Deciphering the Pragmatic Content of Extralinguistic Items in
Email.” She was specifically interested in the use of extralinguistic items
such as “emoticons” and “acronym”’ in email communication. She also
studied how the use of extralinguistic items differed by gender. Because her
project was completed in 1999, it is one of the most recent ones that I have
and Brewer (1997) also did a linguistically oriented study of Internet
language. They discuss it in their book, Electronic
Discourse: Linguistic Individuals
in Virtual Space. They document how the language of electronic
communication has the speech characteristic of immediacy but has the writing
characteristic of permanence. The study shows how communication that is solely
through electronic sources is different than both writing and speech.
of the apparent lack of linguistic studies in the field of Internet dialects,
this research is one of the first of this type. No study has examined the
language of a specific Internet group. If nothing else, this study will show
that there is more to Internet language than a single dialect and that
language of the World Wide Web is extremely diverse and segmented. The specific research question is: How do the Online
Gamers form specific words that contribute to their dialect?
Research was conducted in chat rooms of the Quake clans.
The chat rooms were located in Internet Rely Chat, or IRC. Because it
was impossible to monitor all of the chat rooms for hours each night, log
files were used instead. Log files are simply chat sessions that are saved and
can be viewed at any time. Approximately seventy-five log files dating over a
period of six months were studied. These log files were received from several
gamers who had them saved. Everything was done anonymously. First, names that
are used in the log files are nicknames the gamers use for themselves when
playing. Second, any specific gamer names were changed before use within this
The language from the log files was sorted in two ways. The researcher
documented each time a word (or form of the word) was spoken and who spoke it.
An analysis was completed to determine which words were in frequent use and
which words were new coinages that may not be used by the majority of
speakers. The speaker was important because it had to be determined whether a
single person or small group, or a majority of speakers used the word. The
standard words were determined by number of speakers and number of
occurrences. Each word in the standard dialect was analyzed for morphology,
multiple forms, and definition. Throughout the course of the research, it was
discovered that many of the terms and phrases the gamers used were
incomprehensible even in context, so this researcher enlisted the help of a
“Gamer veteran,” a person who was part of the Gamer group for over seven
years, to help with the definitions. After the research was complete, the
words and morphemes were analyzed to determine how they were formed. Working
definitions were also formed for each word.
The following is a list of the results of the research. The words have been
classified according to the way they were formed. Each type of morphological
formation is listed along with common words and definitions. Other information
has been included that is a large part of the Gamer dialect, such as
alphanumeric symbols and voiced pauses. After the list of results, some
statistical data are provided on the types of formation.
Clips: Clips are some
of the more frequently used words in the Gamer vocabulary.
I’d minus the ’ (Note- the deletion of the apostrophe is very common)
clip of spectator, means to watch or be a spectator
packet loss, game term
game term meaning kill, taken from war
mother fuckers, taken from street jargon
Acronyms: Some of these acronyms are used in the
dialect, although others are unique to the Gamers. The more
acronyms, which I found in a standard Internet dictionary, are marked
rolling on the floor laughing *
be back in a bit *
laughing out loud *
be right back *
piece of shit
kind of like well… (as in “welp im going now”)
that would, gamers rarely use ’
suffix, when added to a word it indicates action, or replaces the –ed suffix
example- “I owned him” would
become “I had ownage” or “it was ownage”).
It assumes the place of the object
-zor- suffx, I am doing,
use or after vowel sounds and the letter x
in sexor or b0x0r), and zor after all other consonants (as in “I need
means very, can be prefixed to any word, such as “youre ubersexy” or
uber-cool”). Most of the time it is joined with a dash. This can
also be a
Unique words: I have
also included any standard English words which
have new definitions in this category.
multiple meaings- a) large, b) very, c )group nature (as in uber cool)
woop- joyus exclamation, similar to ‘hurray!’
woot- joyus exclamation, similar to ‘hurray!’
multiple meanings- a) greeting, b) whore
owned- multiple meanings- a) ownership, b) to win over someone
something, c)an excellent performance
elite, l337, l33t-
used very frequently, derogatory term, means the opposite of the
normal ‘elite’ definition.
Often associated with ‘fakeness’.
definition stemmed from the overuse of the word by
very, as in “m4d l337”
root- administrator of computer server* interesting usage (I
got r00t on your
boxors(rare)- computer servers
I goofed up, like whoops or oops
exclamation, used extremely surprising but very non serious situations
very rarely will they use the word yes, but rather use aye as affirmation
game term, when a person not of the team plays for that team, incognito
to repeatedly do something, especially in reference to logging
to a server or ftp
multiple meanings, a) standard meaning- sweet tasting–very rarely used
Also included in the research were other language elements that were
common in the Gamer dialect. These elements convey meaning and give a more
complete picture of the different aspects of the dialect.
Because the gamers are not face to face,
pauses are used in the same manner they are used in speech.
uhhh, hrm (signifies thinking), heh, erm,
Laughter: This is also impossible to signify without typing something. There
many ways the games signify laughter, the three listed are the most
These are very common in the Gamer
dialect. Any or all letters can be substituted. Some of the more common
substitutions are listed in the
unique words section and the alternative
3- e (most common)
o (most common)
people (derived from dudes)
(instead of for)
(instead of too, to) example: “it happens 2 me 2 :(“
see unique words section
80x0r- see unique words section
Expressions: Here are some examples of the emoticons that were
the Gamer Dialect. Many of these are also found in the main Internet
The following data are statistical calculations dealing with the
different types of morphological formations. The first set of data represents
just the different ways of forming words, without the unique coinages. The
second set includes all words, but does not include the alphanumeric symbols,
emoticons, voiced pauses, or laughter.
The Gamer dialect is based on English. It has no speech equivalent and appears
only in written form in IRC (“Internet Relay Chat”) rooms, Gamer web
sites, Gamer message boards, and within the games themselves. Although it is
written, the syntax is more similar to speech than to writing. Because of the
nature of the Gamer dialect, a form of typed speech, the main concern is
speed. The gamers find many ways of shortening what they have to type, so they
can convey meaning faster, just as shortening occurs in spoken language.
Articles, apostrophes, and punctuation found in normal writing are often
omitted, and any and all shortcuts with the language are taken. This clipping
is shown from the vocabulary. Phrases and single words are the most frequent
modes of communication. To illustrate this point, listed below is an example,
taken straight from the chat scripts studied. The name of the speaker is in
<>, and the message is after the name of speaker.
did Gnomes win?
its not over yet
spam is irksome.
first map we won (:
on to sludge
sludge youll get raped
10 5 i think
Welp. not bad
<Drewskee> gj C
Crayz, Im surprised u didnt pull ur modem.
doin pretty b4d that map
hobbs doesnt like us
hobbers is a fruit 2night
yea i know its pretty sad
since he doesnt get ops here
an OGL person being biast
aye, and he does in l337 chan
As shown through the
example, the language of the Gamers, although written, is very similar to
speech. To keep up with the speed of the conversation, the Gamers have
developed words that allow them to convey meaning faster, such as their clips
and acronyms. Almost all of the words in this study that are not unique are
shortened versions of English words. The average new word created is between 4
and 5 letters. In this research, dialect word longer than eight letters was
discovered, although the Gamers will use longer English words when necessary,
such the word “surprised” from the example above. Also, alphanumeric
characters, acronyms, and emoticons can help Gamers covey meaning faster than
The Internet is unique without borders or boundaries. People from everywhere
in the world can be a part of the Internet community. The Internet has many
different groups, all speaking a specific dialect. There are people who spend
time in chat rooms, and the studies have studied general chat rooms. Other
groups, such as the Hackers, Gamers, Phreakers, and Techies—all have dialect
differences. Those groups share some dialect similarities with the general
Internet dialect, such as acronyms and emoticons, but they have a much larger
vocabulary and more defined expressions. The best way to describe the
sub-dialect groups may be through an analogy of the dialects of America. The
standard American dialect is much like the standard Internet dialect.
Americans share and understand expressions and words regardless of their
sub-dialect. Specific geographical regions and/or specific groups, such as the
North, South, and speakers of Black English, are very similar to the many
groups on the Internet.
This study is by no means complete. The research task of determining the
morphology of Gamer words was completed, but little attention was paid to the
rest of the Gamers’ speech. During the research, it was also surprising to
discover that there are sub-sub-dialects of the Gamer dialect. These dialects
are based on the type of game played. The main group studied was a
group of people playing a first action shooter game. Another major group is
those players of the massive multiplayer online role-playing game or MMORPG.
Many similarities in dialect exist between the two, but there are some major
dialect differences. Besides the Gamer dialect, other dialects, such as the
Hacker and Techie dialects, are wide open to study. It would be
interesting to see what the variation is between the Internet sub-dialects and
the standard Internet dialect.
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