It’s been about three years since I became an active Internet user. From the moment I began exploring the cyberspace, I was enchanted. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. Seriously.

No, I am not referring to any experiences of stumbling upon infamous nooks and crannies of the World Wide Web. Thankfully, I’ve had few of those. It is the initiation into a new language that had me stumped from almost the moment I began interacting with fellow cyber explorers. One of my earliest Internet friends would often suffix her instant messages (oops, that would be IM) with an indecipherable LOL. I tried to figure that out for a long while, and when I saw she would use that word alike to say “I am having a bad hair day. Lol”, and “My son stole a cookie and wasn’t happy when we penalized him. Lol,” I decided it was time for me to put aside my embarrassment of coming across as a dipstick and ask her what exactly LOL stood for. She just typed LOL once more in response to my question. How frustrating. And no, it wasn’t funny at all.

She gave me the expanded version soon though. Those familiar with Internet jargon will know it for sure–it’s Laugh Out Loud. Aha! How enlightened I felt when I finally learned the words behind the ever so enigmatic LOL, which seemed to fit into every life situation for my LOL-loving friend.

That was only the start. Soon, I came upon one Internet acronym after another, until it was almost a whole heap of them. At times I would be overwhelmed by this strange new lingo everyone in the writer’s chat room I used to visit seemed to perfectly understand. Everyone, but poor, ignorant me. With time, I grew out of my what-if-they-laugh-at-my-dumbness self-conscious mode and started pestering my more learned friends for every acronym I couldn’t figure out on my own (yes, I did decipher a few; I am not that dumb, you know).

It was as if a whole new code language of communication had opened up before me. And once I started making sense of BRBs and BBSs; AFKs and AYTs; LOLs and LMAOs and ROFLs; IMOs, and IMHOs; and WBs and TYs, I was just as suave in using them as my other internet-smart friends.

As much as I thought I had mastered this cutting-edge lingo, I was shaken out of my naive arrogance by a fellow food blogger, who, in a comment in our (I write it jointly with a Peruvian friend) food blog, gave me a few tips, following them with HTH. I racked my brains to unravel the words behind that cryptic trinity of letters, but when I had spent enough minutes without getting a suitable answer from my brain, I wrote back to my blogger friend, saying “Thanks for your tips. BTW, what does HTH mean?” She told me it stood for Hope That/This Helps. Duh me; why couldn’t I guess that? Anyway, along with educating me on HTH, my friend also told me of a new one I had never before seen or heard anywhere. It was POS. Can you guess what it could be? If you are parenting a teenager, you possibly can. In case you are parenting a teen and still don’t know, watch out the next time you hear your kid saying that to his or her friends. POS stands for Parent Over Shoulder. Ouch! I bet that one is a student coinage.

So as I pondered about my still incomplete education in this wacky new language, I joked to my publisher that maybe I should write a sequel to Making Out in America, based on Internet acronyms. She spontaneously said…well, “LOL,” what else? And followed it up by saying it wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Just in case you haven’t figured out some of the acronyms I mentioned but never expanded in this post, I got this terrific resource for you. Beware: It includes some less-than-decent expressions; but it’s a great compilation overall.


P.S. The title of this post is: By the way, Can You Figure This? The latter of the two acronyms is a new creation. The creator? Yours truly 😉


20 thoughts on “BTW, CYFT?

  1. Great post, Sury! I learned a couple I hadn’t heard before. I hope you decide to do a sequel to Making Out in America. 😛

  2. You’re way ahead of me.Many I still don’t understand – especially the things like “:D” – which may not be a correct representation.Slides over my head.A sequel might be just the thing.

  3. Hello again Bhas,So pleased you’re back with a new post & a nice munchy read at that!I’m only just starting to study internet jargon myself and I have felt the same pain as you when readers have written comments using symbols & I haven’t been able to interpret these. Perhaps that also explains my reluctance to go into lively chat rooms. *love*

  4. I know exactly what you mean about the acronyms. When I first starting using the internet, I felt a little awkward having to ask what they meant. Now it seems teenagers are making up new ones everyday.BTW, if I ever use one when we chat and you don’t know what it means, feel free to ask. I won’t think less of ya or anything. 🙂

  5. Lisa, no end to learning, eh? LOL, the sequel idea was only a joke. You never know though. Bernita, I had to catch up with this strange new jargon simply to comprehend what my fellow writers talked about in the chat room. I can translate 😀 for you. It’s the symbol for the emoticon that shows a wide grin. :DSusan, I hear you. If making sense of American English wasn’t a challenge in itself, I also had to get skilled in the acronym way of conversation. Whew!South, thanks for being so considerate. Now, I just hope you don’t bombard me with a battery of Internet jargon the next time we talk. LOLBob, how did you know about MOIA?!! That was supposed to be confidential. :-O (Shocked look emoticon).Jokes apart, MOIA is how we refer to the book project while discussing its production and editorial aspects.

  6. I actually had to look that one up, Yoda. And it cracked me up. LOL. As someone who is only minimally computer-literate, I fully sympathise with those on your mailing lists though. 😛

  7. It’s funny, but I did figure out the title before you explained it. I’ve gone through a lot of the same learning experiences. It’s funny how people who find the internet for the first time seem to know those little acronyms straight out of the gate. I avoid using them, and I’m not sure why.

  8. Same here, Scott. I avoid using these acronyms at all costs. Except “LOL,” which I use to express amusement without using a lot of words for the person on the other end of the cyber connection, and “BTW,” which just seems to come up often. Other than that, I use conventional language even while chatting. Signs of getting old, perhaps? I have to admit though, I love the cute little emoticons in Yahoo IM? Signs of the child inside still being alive? I suspect so ;).

  9. During my class “The History of the English Language,” one of the students did his presentation on internet language, presenting all those acronyms and made up words such as W00T. It was actually pretty interesting, even if I didn’t understand half of it.

  10. That’s funny, Oni. The first time I heard W00T, I thought it was just some teenager having fun with words and sounds. Later, I learned, the “word” actually came off a computer game. Funny how the English language refuses to stop evolving.

  11. Cool Post Sury! I was the same way about 8 years ago. I’m still learning some as well. It’s kinda cool making up your own too; just to see if they will catch on (big phat grin).

  12. What a most wonderful post, not only informative but fun (I love those smileys). I remember when I was also trying to make out what LOL meant (and I think I found out from the same friend, lol). You dropped a couple I didn’t know, rushing to that link you posted.Keep up those great posts 😀

  13. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Manisha! It means a lot to me :)Cesar, thanks for the kind words. Learning internet jargon has been some education for us, hasn’t it? I hope you enjoy the acronyms site; it’s quite interesting.

  14. I had to smile all through this – I think we all see ourselves in this post. I still don’t know a lot of the acronyms and I’ll stare and stare until I figure it out. When I can’t, there is always the acronym dictionary. LOL Thanks for posting this, I enjoyed reading it.

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