The Internet has helped people from all over the world to become connected to one another, enabling “global” relationships to be formed. As such, it is important for the various types of slang used online to be recognizable for everyone. It is also important to do so because of how other languages are quickly catching up with English on the Internet, following the increase in Internet usage in countries predominantly non-English speaking. In actual fact, as on May 31, 2011, only approximately 27% of the online population is made up of English speakers.
Different cultures tend to have different motivations behind their choice of slang, on top of the difference in language used. For example, in China, because of the tough Internet regulations imposed, users tend to use certain slang to talk about issues deemed as sensitive to the government. These include using symbols to separate the characters of a word into other to avoid detection and hence resulting in censorship. Abbreviations are popular across different cultures, including countries like Japan, China, France, Portugal, etc, and are used according to the particular language the Internet users speak. Significantly, this same style of slang creation is also found in non-alphabetical languages as, for example, a form of ‘e gao’ or alternative political discourse.
The difference in language often results in miscommunication, as seen in an onomatopoeic example, “555”, which sounds like “crying” in Chinese, and “laughing” in Thai. A similar example is between the English “haha” and the Spanish “jaja”, where both are onomatopoeic expressions of laughter, but the difference in language also meant a different consonant for the same sound to be produced.
In terms of culture, in Chinese, the numerically based onomatopoeia “770880”, (亲亲你抱抱你, qin qin ni bao bao ni), which means to ‘kiss and hug you’, is used. This is comparable to “XOXO”, which many Internet users use. In French, “pkoi” is used in the place of pourquoi, which means why. This is an example of a combination of onomatopoeia and shortening of the original word for convenience when writing online.
In conclusion, every different country has their own language background and cultural differences and hence they tend to have their own rules and motivations for their own Internet slang. However, at present, there is still a lack of studies done by researchers on some differences between the countries.
On the whole, the popular use of Internet slang has resulted in a unique online and offline community as well as sub-categories of “special internet slang which is different from other slang spread in the whole internet… similar to jargon… usually decided by the sharing community”. It has also led to virtual communities marked by the specific slang they use and led to a more homogenized yet diverse online culture.