Those who exchange text messages on WhatsApp with their teenage niece for the first time are often confronted with a mixture of picture puzzles and alphabet jumble. But there is a system to the gibberish: the Internet has long had its own language, which consists mainly of imaginative abbreviations. Even text messages were limited to 160 characters and Twitter also has a maximum limit of 280 characters. WhatsApp or Facebook chat do not specify a number of characters for their users, but the desire for speed prevails there.
Words and phrases are therefore reduced to the bare essentials or completely replaced by images for various reasons. You can find out what this own social media language means and which expressions and abbreviations you should know in our article.
Many English abbreviations such as LOL (Laughing out Loud) and the increase ROFL (Rolling On Floor, Laughing) have long been in use in Germany and are well understood. Phenomena such as YOLO (You only live once), made public by rapper Drake in 2011, continue to persist in everyday life, especially on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
But that's not all: New Anglicisms, such as squad for a group of friends or lit as a synonym for "great", are constantly coming across the pond to Germany, where they are spreading among young people at breakneck speed.
In addition to these Anglicisms, short forms such as HDGDL (I love you very much) or GG (Big grin) are also firmly established in this country. In the meantime, the so-called gamer jargon, which was originally used in role-playing games or on multiplayer platforms, has also found its way into the language used by teens and tweens. In this context, GG now stands for Good Game, i.e. for a particularly fair and entertaining match.
Other terms that have become known through online games, such as loot (often used as a synonym for "shopping") or noob (to judge beginners and inexperienced people pejoratively) are increasingly appearing in social networks and outside of their original online game environment.
In comics, noises have always been expressed in onomatopoeic terms such as *GROE* and *SIGH*. These are also often used on the Internet to convey feelings that cannot be put into words - but please never forget the asterisks (*)!
A whole lexicon of expressions such as *hugs* or the German *knuddel* for a virtual hug, which in turn - depending on affection - can be increased to *mega hugs* soon developed from this.
The fact that youth language has fully entered the mainstream becomes obvious at the latest when it is used by companies for marketing purposes - as happened with the Sparkasse in 2016. Nevertheless, the grammatically rather dubious expressions What is this for 1 Life? ("What kind of life is this?"), I bims ("It's me") or vong (from) continue to be very popular on the Internet. I bims was so popular that it was voted youth word of the year in 2017. But where does the trend come from anyway?
The origin can be traced back to two main sources: On the one hand, rap artist Money Boy, who primarily gained notoriety through his music video "Turn the swag up". On the other hand, the Facebook fan page “Thoughtful sayings with pictures”, which actually primarily wants to make fun of more or less profound picture/text combinations, also exerts a great deal of influence on these questionable new words. The fact that both Money Boy and the inventor of the Facebook page are both over 30 years old and still help to shape the language of young people in this way is hardly noticeable given the amount of bizarreness.
Quickly typed smileys have been established in social networks for some time: the parents now also understand the:-) and the <3 is just as easily recognizable. The Japanese, who have developed over 10,000 different "Kaomoji", have always been very creative on the smiley front. Their smileys like ^_^ and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, which can also be recognized without tilting their head to the side, have long since arrived on the mobile phones of western young people.
Emojis also come from Japan: the name is made up of the Japanese words for "image" (e-) and "character" (moji) and the small motifs were first included by Apple in 2011 in iOS for mobile devices. They are still mainly used today for text messages on smartphones and on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
There are emojis for every situation. Whoever is looking forward to the holiday puts together a palm tree, a sun and a cocktail and whoever is in a bad mood, a grumpy face, rainy weather and a bed. Here, too, inventive minds develop a veritable visual language or retell entire films in a long emoji series.
Cultural pessimists often fear the demise of the German language at the sight of these garbled messages and abbreviations. In fact, "network slang" is more of a creative addition, no different from the youth slang of decades past. Linguists therefore see this phenomenon as completely harmless - after all, teenagers usually know exactly how they should actually express themselves and adapt their language accordingly to their environment.
In addition, this language development of young people can not only be observed in Germany: In other countries such as France or the USA, too, teenagers regularly find new ways to express themselves as inventively as possible - and to drive their parents and teachers crazy. So sit back and just smile at the development - tomorrow there will be enough new expressions that could trigger the next internet hype. And meanwhile, I bims and Co will quietly disappear from the scene.