Monday, November 7, 2011


Brigitte was laughing at herself for having used BTW on Facebook. She next recited the other two Internet Slang words she knew. Then an idea struck her. “You should write a poem using those abbreviations,” she said. Such challenges I can’t resist. Herewith:

Last saw you at the mall
At the huge crowd.
Then you saw Jack,
Said BRB.
I gave chase
But didn’t see you F2F
Complained to Ruth
She shrugged, said MLAS
But G2G. BG.


As far as I recall
Last saw you at the mall
Laughing out loud
At the huge crowd.
Then you saw Jack,
Said “Be right back.”
I gave you chase
But didn’t see you face to face.
To tell you the truth
Complained to Ruth.
She shrugged and said, “My lips are sealed”
And “Don’t believe everything you read.”
Am thinking of you
But got to go. Big grin.
See you.

In due time the idea occurred to me that if Internet Slang (IS) grew and expanded, in due time we would eventually “evolve” a new language as brief and elegant as the Chinese script. At once I went to work in order to translate our best-known IS symbols into Chinese—and in the process a certain sobriety set in. Here, for instance is the Chinese for the fully spelled out “Laughing out Loud”:


That’s not simple at all, folks. ICYDK basic Chinese literacy requires knowledge of 2,000 characters; the reader of a newspaper must be able to handle 4,000 to 5,000. Higher levels of comprehension lie north of there. The largest Chinese dictionary contains 106,230 characters, but that set includes variants used in Vietnam, Korea, and in Japan; that one is titled Yitizi Zidian; it appeared in 2004. An earlier massive dictionary, issued in 1995, the Zhonghua Zihai, holds 85,568. The Japanese Dai Kan-Wa jiten features 50,000+, the South Korean Han-Han Dae Sajeon 53,667 characters. Those poor Chinese! They’re up against it. How would they go about abbreviating 笑出声来? What three strokes of that bewildering variety will be equivalent to LOL?

ICYDK? In case you didn’t know.

1 comment:

  1. Surely we must now soon have a new modern poetry category. I will proudly nominate you as recipient for the first ever "Verse in Brief English"(VIBE) Award"!


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