This is actually a fairly interesting branch
from the English language, from a perspective of someone who is continually fascinated
by the various intricacies of linguistics
. Having dabbled in the "underground" computer scene in the early 90's, I ran into this phenomenon and was, for a short period of time, intrigued by it.
It is, at its face, a simple system of transliteration
, with some basic rules, and certain other minor variances, which, like individual dialects
of a language, seem to differ by geography. This was, at least, the case during my days of BBSing
. For the most part, things are as follows:
E = 3
L = 1
O = 0
T = 7 or T = +
This is just the basic list. The letter "A" is often expressed as "4" or "@", while G is sometimes, though very rarely, substituted as a "6". The thing that really makes things confusing is the fact that words are frequently spelled phonetically, such as typing "3y3" instead of simply "I", the personal pronoun
. This is done so that more symbols can be fit into a sentence or expression, for the most part. The more complicated
the expression, the more "1337" you are.
More recently, there has been a further complication introduced. Instead of being happy with ending certain words with "3r" or "3d", the tradition of adding "x0r" has become quite popular. Instead of someone saying they are a "hacker", they say "hax0r". Past tense verbs are similarly changed, so now you have not been "hacked", you have been "hax0red". The letter "Y" has been replaced with a lower case "j". "You" is now expressed as "j00", and the rather popular greeting of "Yo" is now "j0". 1337 is a difficult language to keep track of, as it seems to go through modifications
like this on a pretty regular basis.
It should also be noted that, as someone has already said, real "hackers" don't use this. This is a phenomenon that seems to be strictly reserved for script kiddies
, web page defacers
, and other lower forms of life
in the computer underground.