LOL, LMAO, STFU. Examples of what is more commonly known as NetSpeak. I remember once upon a time where it was limited to a small subsection of the internet community, typically on-line gamers, but now it can be found on every site in every corner of the net.
I read and hear comments from people saying that its the death of the English language, and that it, along with TXT-speak will cause civilisation as we know it to slide into the abyss as our brains devolve into mush. Poppycock - as my old Form 2 teacher used to say. Language evolves every day and anywhere you listen or look, you can see it happening and its amazing to watch language morph and change.
AOLspeak or Netspeak as it is referred to nowdays is simply a way for people who want to convey an emotion or idea quickly. Whether its posting a comment on a blog, firing off an email, Instant Messaging or chatting during a gaming session, using netspeak allows people to communicate these ideas without wearing out their hands. LMAO is a good one - you can quickly embed emotion and action that cannot be seen or heard by the reader into your message, and only type 4 characters. It allows for fast and efficient transmission of ideas and reactions, and isnt that what language has always evolved as?
I saw Californication recently, a bloody good progamme IMO, and in one episode Hank (David Duchovny) gets a verbal lashing from his missus for slagging off netspeak on a radio show (he says its the death of the English language). Excellent scene, and the dialogue is great but I do disagree with good old Hank. Its not the death, but the metamorphosis of English into something more flexible, and more relavent to current technology and social communities. Its forever changing and will always mould itself into something people find useful - if this wasnt the case, surely we'd be speaking Olde English still today (or something even more ancient).
I reckon it comes down to understanding - people who may feel they are being left behind by technology, or dont understand the new generation of Blogging and Social Networking site use may also not understand the use of netspeak in place of regular english. Old farts in other words.
I will admit however, there is one type of netspeak I fail to understand - Leet speak or Gamer speak. It boggles the mind as to what they are thinking when they let rip with this bizarre pidgen English.
I roxor - you suxor, Chek my leet skillz n00b. (roughly translated as "I say old chap, I am rather splendid and magnificent whereas you are not fit not wipe the excrement from the base of the pig trough. Also, may I point out I am quite good at this video game, which you seem to be playing for the first time")
Its not abbreviating - it just drops to child level language - I rock, you suck, nee nar nee nar. I've got no problem with children using childish language, but for fucks sake if you are going to post on a blog discussing astrophysics or technology, it makes you look like a bit of a twat if you start "pwning" people.
Or maybe I've just put myself into that Old Fart category. Bugger.