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Key Emoticon & Online Acronym's Translated: Your Guide to Understanding the Secret Language of Moder

When is the last time you got mail? These days, upon hearing these words most people immediately think e-mail, and chances are high that you got a new e-mail in the last day, if not within the last hour or several minutes. The Internet has so significantly changed the way we communicate that the modern generation may never get the pleasure of receiving a real, now old-fashioned, pen and paper letter.

But that doesn't seem to bother them. In fact, modern youth have developed an entirely new language of sorts, one that's reserved just for the Internet and, if you aren't familiar with it, looks like some sort of secret code.

Kids are using a new computer language full of emoticons and acronyms that, to most adults, looks like a secret code.

Who uses this new "secret" language? Primarily, it's today's youth, which is not surprising considering that, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, close to 76 percent of 14-17 year olds and 65.4 percent of 10-13 year olds use the Internet. Even nearly 40 percent of young kids aged 5-9 use it.

 (__)\      )\/\ 
     | |--w |
     | |   ||

Feeling a little ambitious? Try recreating this Web cow using your computer keyboard.

What are they doing online? If they're not surfing the Web or playing games, they're e-mailing, chatting and instant messaging their friends. In fact, 74 percent of online teens have used instant messaging (IM) programs (compared with 44 percent of online adults).

A survey of more than 800 children ages 10 to 17, conducted by the Mercury News in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation, even found that half of all kids use IM or a chat room at least once a week. And--here's a major sign of the times--one in four of these kids said they rely on chat, instant messaging or e-mail as their primary method of communicating with friends.

Have no Fear: Internet Language Decoded

If logging onto the Internet makes you feel like you're an outsider at some type of secret club, take heed. The following lines will get you up to speed on everything you need to know to look like the most computer-savvy kid on the block (LOL).

This new language is made up of two major components: Emoticons and acronyms. Let's start with emoticons, which is the words "emotion" and "icon" combined. Emoticons are used to convey gestures, feelings, voice inflection or other intonations that may otherwise go unnoticed over the Internet. Some, as you see in the dictionary of rather common ones below, are quite creative:

Common Emoticons Decoded
 Frown: :-( Tongue in cheek: :-J
 Wink: ;-) Puzzlement: :-k
 Crying :(```` Abraham Lincoln: =):-)=
 Mischievous grin: >:) Punk: =:-)
 Smirk or confused: :-/ Snake: =====:}
 Sticking tongue out: :-P Black eye: ?(
 Laughing hard: :-D Long-stemmed rose: @>--->---
 Mad: >:-\ Atomic bomb: @==
 Blowing a kiss: :-{} Sunglasses on head: B:-)
 What?!: :-s Hats off to you: d :-o
 Unsmiley: :-t A salute: M:-)
 Shouting: :-V Yuck: 8-P
 Kiss: :-X Wow: 8-]
 Criticism: :-[ Smile: : )
 Sniffles: :-\'| Bored: : [
 Pondering, impartial: :-I Loudmouth: :( )
 Wry smile: :-i  

Want to learn more? Computer User's Online Dictionary has an extensive list of emoticons.

Now moving on to acronyms ... you may be familiar with BYOB and ASAP, but if BRB and LOL look like a foreign language, then keep reading--help is on the way!

Common (and Not-so-Common) Computer Acronyms
 LOL: laughing out loud GMTA: great minds think alike
 ROTFL: rolling on the floor laughing L8R: later
 BFN: bye for now LOLA: laugh out loud again
 TTYL: talk to you later LOOL: laughing outrageously loud
 IMO: in my opinion N1: nice one
 IMHO: in my humble opinion NM: never mind
 IMNSHO: in my not so humble opinion NP: no problem
 IIRC: if I recall correctly NRN: no reply necessary
 IAC: in any case NTK: nice to know
 OTOH: on the other hand SFETE: smiling from ear to ear
 FWIW: for what it's worth SMAIM: send me an instant message
 HTH: hope that helps SWALK: sealed with a loving kiss
 AFAIK: as far as I know TFDS: that's for darn sure
 BRB: be right back TTYL: talk to you later
 FAWC: for anyone who cares TWIMC: to whom it may concern
 ICBW: I could be wrong TYVM: thank you very much
 IDK: I don't know WAD: without a doubt
 IGTP: I get the point WBS: write back soon
 IHNO: I have no opinion YWIA: you're welcome in advance

BFN, HTH! ;-)

An example of a new type of art called ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange, or text file) emoticon art (this rose is by Normand Veilleux):

                    "M,        .mM"
                     IMIm    ,mIM"
          "IMmm,    ,IM::::IM::IM,          ,m"
             "IMMIMMIMm::IM:::::IM""==mm ,mIM"
    __      ,mIM::::::MIM:::::::IM::::mIMIM"
           IM::::::::IM:::::::IM::::mIMIMM"""". .. "IMMMM
           "IM::::::::IM::::::mIMIMM"". . . . . .,mM"   "M
            IMm:::::::IM::::IIMM" . . . . . ..,mMM"
            "IMMIMIMMIMM::IMM" . . . ._.,mMMMMM"
             ,IM". . ."IMIM". . . .,mMMMMMMMM"  
           ,IM . . . .,IMM". . . ,mMMMMMMMMM"
          IM. . . .,mIIMM,. . ..mMMMMMMMMMM"
         IM.,IMI"""        ""IIMMMMMMMMMMM
        ;IMIM"                  ""IMMMMMMM
        ""                         "IMMMMM
                                         IMM,              ______   __
                        ______           "IMM__        .mIMMIMMIMMIMMIMM,
                   .,mIMMIMMIMM, ,mIMM,   IMM"""     ,mIM". . . . "IM,..M,
                 ,IMMM' . . . "IMM.\ "M,  IMM      ,IM". . . .  / :;IM \ M,
               .mIM' . . .  / .:"IM.\ MM  "MM,    ,M". . .  / .;mIMIMIM,\ M
              ,IM'. . .  / . .:;,IMIMIMMM  IMM   ,M". .  / .:mIM"'   "IM,:M
             ,IM'. . . / . .:;,mIM"  `"IMM IMM   IM. .  / .mM"         "IMI
            ,IM . .  / . .:;,mIM"      "IMMMMM   MM,.  / ,mM            "M'
            IM'. .  / . .;,mIM"          "IIMMM ,IMIM,.,IM"              
            IM . . / . .,mIM"              IMMMMMMM' """
            `IM,.  / ;,mIM"                 IIMMM
             "IMI, /,mIM"                 __IMMM
               "IMMMM"                   """IMM
                 ""                         IMM

Recommended Reading

The Top Six Signs that Someone is Physically Attracted to You

Warning: Certain Smells May Make You a Dangerous Driver (Really!)


The Mercury News: Growing Up Wired

Going Online: Youth & the Internet

Wise Geek: What are Emoticons?

Computer Knowledge General Information Page

ASCII Art by by Normand Veilleux


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