Every industry has something of its own vocabulary. In its 2020 edition, the Duden has around 3,000 new words - an indication of how language is enriched (and sometimes also defaced) by a wide variety of influences. "Another shot, please!" - the waiter in the restaurant knows pretty well that it should be the same schnapps again.
However, the mass distribution of smartphones has led to completely new terms. Because typing on the small on-screen keyboard is quite tedious for many. Just the dots within or at the end of common abbreviations such as "etc.", "o. ä.” or “possibly.” are perceived as unnecessary effort. Therefore, more and more condensed abbreviations came up.
Abbreviations such as 4U or Hf are part of network jargon, especially among younger people, and stand for frequently used sequences of words. Many such chat abbreviations have found their way into everyday life, such as "Späti4U". Some have even become part of spoken language, such as "aka" or "lol". Still others serve to serve the actually nonverbal level of communication: winking, frowning, turning the corners of the mouth down. It all originally started with a few letter-character combinations - the so-called emoticons. For example, the character combination:-0 is modeled on an astonished face that goes "Oh!" (can be seen by tilting your head to the side). Today there are numerous such chat smileys. In addition, numerous abbreviations are used in chats. Jump into the language adventure of chat abbreviations. Our guide is sure to help you. So: "hf irl"!
Shortening of words is not new. Abbreviations have been used for a very long time. They usually consist of the first letters of the abbreviated words or combinations of word components such as ("e.g.") "or", "etc." or "VAT.". And of course abbreviations are also used in digital communication.
The salutation "MfG", for example, made it into a song title by the band "Die Fantastischen Vier" in 1999. And they stormed the charts. In the last years of the 20th century there was often even talk of an "AKüFi" - the "abbreviation mania". In the meantime standard in many forms of communication, which can be found under the designations network or IT jargon, chat abbreviations or abbreviations or chat slang. In the field of computer games, there is also talk of gamer language.
In retrospect, it can be said that written sentence or word abbreviations were already used for message transmission with postal telegrams (not to be confused with the "Telegram" service!). A word in a long-distance telegram cost exactly 80 pfennigs in 1986, which meant that people kept it short: "I'm arriving..." became "Arrive...". On August 3, 1984, the first Internet e-mail was received in Germany. It heralded the end of the Post-Telegram and can be seen as the starting point of network jargon. The inconspicuous character @ began its triumphal march as an abbreviation for the word "at".
On December 3, 1992, a British engineer sent the world's first text message "Merry Christmas" from a PC to a Vodafone manager's mobile phone. A little later, this also worked from mobile phone to mobile phone. Readers who were already using mobile phones at that time may still remember the associated keystrokes: To write the letter "S", you had to press the 7 key four times. This alone explains the widespread tendency to abbreviate terms - especially since an SMS was only allowed to contain 160 characters.
The massive spread of smartphones has created completely new communication channels: Messenger services enable selected communication partners or previously defined chat groups to be addressed quickly and immediately. The spread of online computer games played together and the increasing popularity of e-sports have also led to the development of a specific gamer jargon. Where it is important to react quickly, there is not much time to type on the keyboard.
From a technical point of view, the chat abbreviations are mainly used in messenger services on mobile devices, i.e. where “only” a displayed keyboard is available. WhatsApp is the undisputed leader here with around 95 percent of all users. Other such services are Skype, WeChat, Telegram or Snapchat. But alternatives to Facebook Messenger, for example, have certainly conquered market shares. Apple's iMessage, which is only available on iPhones as a pre-installed app, should not go unmentioned.
There is another aspect to this: the more personal the communication, the better you know the chat partner, the more inclined you seem to use chat abbreviations. This network jargon was established by younger users. On the one hand to differentiate oneself, on the other hand to keep up with the fast-paced communication. Spelling and grammar are not in the foreground, the focus is on speed including comprehensibility. German and English terms are often mixed up. Due to the mass distribution of smartphones, chat slang is now also reaching older users who are making this language their own bit by bit. This IT jargon has meanwhile even found its way into everyday speech. The advertising industry uses both messenger services and chat shortcuts to address specific target groups.
Even in live chats you can find chat shortcuts to process support requests.
Another user community is the gamer scene, specifically chat abbreviations are very common in e-sports. Terms have become established there that have to do with the processes, actions and results of computer games played on the Internet.
The Internet jargon is subject to constant change in the terms and abbreviations used, so that a list is always a snapshot. The markup language HTML is based on English terms, so that the chat slang primarily uses English words. It is mainly written in lower case to save yourself having to switch the keyboard. German-language terms have also conquered the terrain, albeit “only” within the German-speaking community. The following table presents more than fifty chat abbreviations and does not claim to be complete.
|2g4u||Too good for you||Too good for you|
|2L8||Too late||Too late|
|4U||For you||To you|
|noble||After download||After downloading|
|afaik||As far as I know||As far as / as far as I know|
|afk||Away from keyboard||Not at the keyboard (G)|
|a.k.a||Also known as||Also known as|
|asap||As soon as possible||As soon as possible|
|bbl||Be back later||I'll be back later|
|bg||Big grin||Grin wide|
|boon||Written backwards for "noob"||Disrespectful term for a beginner|
|brb||Be right back||I will be back soon|
|btw||By the way||By the way..., while we're at it...|
|bvid||I am in love with you||...|
|cu||see you||See you later, see you|
|cya||See Ya, See You Again||see you later|
|dafuq / dafuq? / wtf?||what the fuck||Puzzled "What's that about?" / What the hell?|
|dau||Dumbest adoptable user||...|
|duw||Crouch and away||You said something cynical/ironic, now duck and dodge|
|it||end of reason||...|
|eod||End of Discussion||end of discussion|
|eom||end of message||End of message|
|ez (also izi)||Easy||easy|
|f2f||face to face||In person, face to face|
|FAQ||Frequently asked questions||frequently asked Questions|
|fg||Nasty (or: fat) grin||(Always pay attention to the context here.)|
|fyi||For your info||For your information|
|g2g||Got to go||I have to go|
|gj||good job||Well done, good job|
|gl||Good luck||Much luck|
|thx||Abbreviation for "congratulations"||Congratulations / Congratulations|
|hp||Have fun||Have fun / Have fun|
|Hth||Hope that helps||Hope that helps|
|idk||I do not know||I do not know|
|imho / imo||In my humble opinion / In my opinion||In my humble opinion / In my opinion|
|Ireland||In real life||In real/real life|
|k or kk||OK or OK OK||...|
|kB||Don't feel like it||...|
|lamito||laugh me dead||(The German LOL)|
|lol||laugh out loud||I laugh my head off|
|noob (also: n00b or boon)||newbie||newbie. Also used pejoratively among gamers.|
|n1||Nice one||Well done, Great job|
|n8||"N eight" stands for Night||(Good night|
|nsfw||Not safe/suitable for work||Not suitable at work, do not open at work. Refers to sexually suggestive content.|
|omg||Oh my fucking god||Increase of "Oh My God"|
|omg||oh my god||Oh my God|
|rofl||Rolling over the floor laughing||I'm rolling with laughter|
|scnr||Sorry, couldn't resist||Sorry, couldn't resist|
|tbh||To be honest||To be honest|
|tl;dr||too long; didn't read||(The text) was too long for me; I haven't read|
|xoxo||Kisses and hugs||Kisses and hugs|
In our world of rapid change, it is important to stay up to date if you want to have a say – in the truest sense of the word. Maintain contact with your children and grandchildren, with younger people in general, in order to keep in touch - and vice versa. And: hopefully this guide was not tl;dr...
Below we have summarized the most important questions and answers on the subject for you.
The abbreviation afk means: Away from keybord - Not at the keyboard.
The abbreviation xoxo means: kisses and hugs - kisses and hugs.
The abbreviation aka means: Also known as.
The abbreviation asap means: As soon as possible.
The abbreviation btw means: By the way - By the way / While we're at it.