The emergence of hypergrams in the written language of young people

Anybody who has young Facebook contacts from the UK is likely to have come across weird spellings in recent years.

It started out as text speak, i.e., the abbreviation of words to make them easier to type on a phone, such as gr8t ‘great’, 2moz ‘tomorrow’ and wat ‘what’.

However, recently they seem to have started making the words longer too, typically by repeating letters.

Here are a few examples from my Facebook contacts:

helloooo bestieee ?
ehhh itss kindaa sick :L
NAKKKKEDDD scenes :O wuu2 ?
yu madeee soo many mistaakes i think u comeee tomorrow i think orr maybeee wednesdaaay :S
in londonnn and itss fiaaaaane ! 😀

I’m not aware of any existing term for these spellings, so I’m going to call them hypergrams.

Obviously they help to mark the writer as a young person, but we asked Marcel over dinner whether they served any specific purpose (such as adding emphasis to a word), but he claimed this was not the case.

It would be interesting to know if anybody has done any research on this topic.

Comments

  1. I’ll have you know I invented this mode of speech / the written word !
    You’ve often commented yourself on my “over-use” of the full stop/ comma/exclamation mark/ question mark etc ,,, Ha ! And YES it is intended to give emphasis .,,.,.,.,!! ??
    ( & it’s not called Hyper anything btw ,,, it’s called Doooougieee speak !!!!! )
    I thought you were a Linguistics expert ,, fancy not having done any research on my subject ! Huh !!!!

  2. Not just young people, I see it in some of my generation on Facebook. Particularly ‘so’ => ‘sooo’, ‘fed’ => ‘FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED’ [sic], ‘really’ => ‘reeeally’.

    But the example you post are not mere emphasis, so possibly something else is going on.

  3. Perhaaaaaaps it started out as emphasis amongst older people (i.e., our generation), and then the teenagers misunderstood the purpose and started repeating random letters?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.