Regular Spelling
Thoughts on language and more

Internet Speak

Since I was first introduced to it, I've been a big fan of the .hack series. For those not familiar with it, at its core it is a series of video games for the PS2, with storyline supplements in anime, manga, and novel form. The games are based on a fictional MMORPG, named "The World."

Being based on an MMORPRG, the games' translations have an unusually lax script, as, to a point, it's meant to imitate internet speak. Random smilies thrown into conversations, the occasional 'lol', spellings in l33t, and abnormal spellings for words all grace the games' scripts for realism. As I was starting the most recent game to come out after buying it on Wednesday, this could be seen very plainly in the opening cinematics for the game, where one character's subtitles spell the abbrevative of 'because' as cuz, and not 'cause. And I wasn't the only one to pick up on this, my younger brother, who was watching the cinema from behind me, commented "why did they spell it 'cuz' and not the correct way?"

But the translated version is mild compared to the Japanese version. I simply could not wait for the games for the current series, .hack//GU, to come out here, so I got them in Japanese as well. And littered through the games were all sorts of japanese internet speak. Being a (currently inactive) player of FFXI, I could recognize a few of these from the little exposure I saw of Japanese players talking out in the open, such as the sentence suffix 'w' that is equivalent to our 'lol'. But I saw much more through the games, between crazy smilies that can't be typed with the US ASCII character sets, to all sorts of sentence suffixes that I couldn't recognize, to foreign players' writing showing up as typed out with Roman characters rathern than Japanese. Trying to follow a conversation with my limited Japanese was certainly no easy task when only half of what was showing up in the captions underneath was actually being said out loud.

Date posted: 14 September, 2007
Tags: internet japanese spelling typography video_games words
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