Thoughts On the Pervasiveness of 4chanspeak

Since its inception, 4chan has generated a peculiar set of vocabulary. The term “weeaboo,” now synonymous with “japanophile” and “wapanese,” was born out of a word filter designed to mitigate usage of the term “wapanese.” Often times extreme and intentionally insulting, 4chan is also known for appending the suffix “-fag” to almost every word possible, to the point that its origin as a homosexual slur almost becomes a generalized slur. How else would you explain the usage of the term “straightfag” to denote someone who is annoyingly heterosexual?

Though it is convenient and perhaps comforting to think of terms such as “weeaboo” and “moralfag” as isolated elements of the 4chan userbase, 4chan-isms have permeated the internet to the extent that people who have never even loaded a 4chan page are using these phrases. I saw one such thread on a reddit video games thread, where after throwing around a bunch of classic 4chan terms, proceeded to ask what /v/ is  (the video games board on 4chan).

Personally, when it comes to my writing and even my online chatting, I prefer to keep the usage of 4chan-isms to a minimum, because I feel that they 1) have too much baggage that requires unpacking and 2) are overly broad when I tend to prefer a bit of precision in my sentences. I also prefer that other people do the same, though I don’t mind seeing it pop up every so often, especially for flavor. On the other hand, overuse of 4chan-isms to the extent that thoughts are conveyed using almost nothing but them can not only be difficult to read but causes my mind to kind of gloss over what they have to say.

However, given the sheer amount of 4chanspeak users out there, I find it increasingly difficult to write off what people have to say solely because of their excessive 4chan-sisms.  After all, if it has become so ubiquitous, if there is an entire generation of internet users who think this to be the normal way to speak online, then it is more than likely that very smart and insightful individuals who communicate primarily through such terms exist. While I can criticize them for using terms which probably have better alternatives, I cannot deny the possibility that smart things can be said in a “inarticulate” fashion. Not only that, but if someone feels most comfortable describing their feelings using 4chanspeak, who am I to judge? If someone says, “I got NTR’d and might become a suicidefag,” and actually means it, then maybe I have to just understand that sentence as being their way of expressing a hurtful situation and to take that seriously.

7 thoughts on “Thoughts On the Pervasiveness of 4chanspeak

  1. Many that use 4chanspeak have valid opinions, as demonstrated in comments such as:

    “lol, I love how you make the dull-as-fuck normalfag life (yay marriage, kids, divorce, no one has done this before, new and exciting) sound like some spiritual pilgrimage to happiness, then arbitrarily litter the contrasting (superior) otaku lifestyle with negativity (ULL BE GREASY NOO NE WIL TAK 2 U U 2 LAZINESS 4 LIEF). So what you’re saying is that I’ll have plenty of money to spend on myself and my own interests, and won’t have to worry about some whinging vaginawitch asking for jewellery and clothes, as well as putting up with bullshit from her annoying offspring that stopped being cute years ago? Umm… I seem to be missing the disadvantages there, dude.”


  2. Actually from what I’ve seen during my last (thankfully short) stay in 4chan was that -fag has become so overused that it has actually lost any form of relation to homosexuality or it’s use as a slur. I think by now most people on 4chan use it almost as an alternative to “person”. I can’t say if this is a good or bad thing, but these are my observations.

    I’m not so much concerned, as I am annoyed when I see “4chanspeak” outside of 4chan, since to me that just makes it pointless. What I’m trying to say is that context matters – talking about “drawfags”, for example, on 4chan is a perfectly valid way of discussing an artist you like or dislike (the term applies to both, really). Talking about drawfags on any other website on the internet makes you sound like an asshole and a 13 year old who just found out 4chan exists.


  3. I often find it hard to replace the “green text” structure with an adequate alternative, especially on twitter. It’s short, structured and to the point. Asking as a non-native, what English alternatives would there be that express the same with similar brevity and power? Though I realize this varies heavily depending on the content.

    For example:

    (a meme in itself)
    >uses 4chan-isms on r/gaming
    >doesn’t know /v/

    “He uses 4chan-isms on r/gaming, doesn’t know /v/? Mon visage quand.” doesn’t quite hit with the same… raw power?


  4. Pingback: “We’re Just Like You!”: The Empathy Scam of the Alt-Right | OGIUE MANIAX

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