Microsoft Teaches Parents 'Leetspeek'

Microsoft's anti-piracy efforts have taken a new twist: helping parents better understand their children's online activities, and in turn, keep them from breaking the law. The company has posted a dossier detailing the online slang used by children, which outlines six key points for learning "leetspeek."

Leetspeek, derived from elite speak, may include numbers in place of letters and substitute characters that are similar in appearance. Rules of grammar are rarely obeyed, says Microsoft, and mistakes are often left uncorrected.

Microsoft specifically highlights terms related to illegal activity, such as "warez" or "w4r3z," and "pwn3d." "Their use could be an indicator that your teenager is involved in the theft of intellectual property, particularly licensed software," the company says.

Although it notes leetspeek is a "dynamic written language that eludes conformity or consistency," Microsoft lists some common leet words. "Kewl" is a derivation of "cool," while "m4d sk1llz" or "mad skills" refers to one's own talent. "W00t," meanwhile, is analogous to "woohoo!"

As the Internet becomes ever more ubiquitous, online slang has begun to find a place in daily life. Topics are no longer just searched, they are Googled (or A9.com'd as the case may be). Numerous Web sites such as UrbanDictionary.com have been devoted to tracking the slang used by the Web-centric generation.

"In the modern, connected world, where teenagers heavily use IM, kid lingo evolves faster and with greater secrecy," Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox told BetaNews. "I see lots of this kind of behavior among middle schoolers that don't want parents budding in but do want greater connection -- as in community -- with their friends."

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