SMS or text-speak has been continually increasing its bounds since Twitter appeared on the scene with its limit of 140 characters per tweet. Since tweets are never totally private, means to keep twitter language free of cuss words are being used to avoid offense or censorship. Here are ten ways that people manage to ‘cuss without cussing’ on Twitter.
- Grawlix – Yes, there is an actual official name for the use of a string of characters to represent cussing. Whatever the string – $#@!? – it is generally understood to mean a string of curse words. This usage first began in comic strips and the name, grawlix, is credited to cartoonist Mort Walker.
- Single letter replacement – Using just the first letter of a word and then the suffix is another way tweeters avoid actually cussing and save themselves some characters in the process.
- Technical terminology – This means of avoiding cuss words is not used all too often on Twitter, simply because technical words tend to use up too many of the 140 character limit. Occasionally, you still might see a “UR a pain in the rear end” or other references that provide wording that might me more acceptable than the 3 and 4 letter cuss words that they are replacing.
- Asterisk replacements – This is another cuss word disguise that won’t save you any characters. In this form you simply replace two or three of the letters in the word with asterisks or sometimes dashes.
- Numbers for letters – Replacing letters with similar looking numbers is another way that tweets are sent out with their cuss words mildly disguised. You might see 5h17 or 13itch pop up in tweets from people who make use of this form.
- First letters only – Since this has become one of the most common forms of text-speak, such as the well-known LOL for laughing out loud, it naturally translates over to the cuss phrases as well. OMG is pretty well-known and so is SOB. WTF and KMA are a couple more that you’ve probably come across in tweets from those with a more colorful language style.
- Symbols for letters – Just like using numbers to replace similar looking letters, people do the same thing with symbols. The dollar sign ($) works for an S and an exclamation point (!) works for an I. Sometimes you will see a combination of symbols and numbers being used, such as in 81tc#.
- Slang spelling- There are a few instances where the slang can be phonetically spelled, such as in ‘UR effin right’, but there aren’y too many terms where that can be applied.
- Foreign language – This little trick has been used in verbal cussing for years, so it is natural that it would be used in tweets as well. You can hide your true cuss words from the general populace if you learn to type out the equivalent in some language other than English.
- Old fashioned slang – Simply reverting back to some old fashioned terms like ‘jerk’ and ‘goofball’ are another way to tone down the adult ratings on your tweets.
Were you surprised at how creative we’ve become at being able to voice our expletives in the Twitter environment? We are people who love our words, even when those words are less-loved by others.