We all have been exposed to "elite speak" in some form or another here on the 'net. It's nearly inescapable- whether on someones page, on IRC, on some FTP site, or in a demo. Often times, it can be confusing and imposing to a new user- or it can be a full blown annoyance, trying to decipher someones statement when it appears to be nothing more than a bunch of typographic symbols and numbers. And yet, K-Rad speak is something of a local dialect for the 'net- literally a new form of language, an extension of english that spans several years in development and is now prevelant enough, in my opinion, to be given an extensive, academic treatment. k-Rad Speak is an important part of net.life, and deserves to be examined thuroughly.

what is K-Rad?

The term "K-Rad" has its origins in the early hackers scene of the 1980's. Many of the hackers and crackers prevelant in the scene- which was then dominated by Apple II and Commodore 64 users- were a very, very tight knit group- under intense scrutiny from the media, beginning to get noticed by law enforcement, and generally becoming a target for persecution. With such pressure, it is no wonder that they became so close to each other. Hence, the software pirates and phone phreaks (note that "phreak" is, in all likelyhood, the first incident of intentional mis-spelling to indicate a special group of people) began to refer to themselves as being "elite"- after all, what better way to describe such a bandwagon of crazed computer geeks finding themselves on the run from the law, from the media, and from some of their own?

Sometime in late 1984, the term "K-Rad" emerged. As I'm sure some of you will recall, one of several media-created youth trends- "Val Speak"- had just erupted into mainstream society. "Radical" and "rad" were quite common terms heard in this genre, perverted from it's original meaning as "beyond or outside the norm with unpleasant tendencies" to mean "good", "cool", etc. Hence, we have already a word that is supposedly "different" and "hip". Now, as I am sure you know, the term "K" has been used for many years to denote "Kilobyte", or 1024 bytes. The result is simple, if somewhat obscure: "K" meaning roughly a thousand, and "Rad" meaning cool. Hence K-Rad- a thousand times rad. A truly new term was born, a term belonging- and understood- only by the "elite".

(A sidenote: a much more obscure term is said to have emerged in this time- "K-town1". While the "K" is readily understood, the "Town1" takes some explination. I, unfortunately, have yet to determine what the "town" means. However, I do recall from both The Black Avenger and bliss32 that the "1" was actually supposed to be a "!", and the "1" resulted from the fact that the shift key and 1 key on a commodore 64 were difficult to hit on the fly, hence resulting in a 1 instead of a ! more often than not.)

From here the trend toward elite speak rapidly accelerated. The next "wave" of elite speak came in the form of intentional misspellings- often, at first, using "ph" instead of "f" and vice versa. Others were gross perversions of the word- I distinctly remember boggling over "kewl" for a few seconds before I realized that it was, in fact, "cool". And following this came the substitution of typographic symbols and numbers for letters- starting, of course, with the "0" in place of the "o" in the word "r0dent", used to describe a lamer.

today, K-rad speak has evolved into its own true subset of English; what follows is an attempt to explain some of the nuances of its usage and creation. If anyone has anything to add- and this list is FAR from complete- please *mail me* and ennumerate your addition. Thank you.

In no particular order:

Elite (ee-leet) (adj): Term used to describe anything associated with the state of being k-rad; to be elite is to be part of a very special group, of which most crackers, trackers, and hackers feel themselves to be. Also used to describe "warez" as being new, special, and or illegal. Most common spellings: Elite, 3lyt, 3r33t, ereet, 'leet, Elyte. Usage: "D00d, I am s0 3r33t it hurtz".

Warez (wheres) (noun): Term denoting illegal, special, pirated, and otherwise important software. Derived from "software" and "wares". Most common spellings: warez, w4r3z. Usage: "D00d, th|s site haz h3lluv warez!"

K- (kay) (prefix): Used to denote an elite adjective, most commonly to give praise, but sometimes to denote detrimental attributes. Most common Spellings: /<-, |<-, K-, /

Phear (feer) (verb): Used to denote the action of comically being scared of something; often times used to give the impression that someone is "skaree". Usage: "Phear my tr4kking pr0wezz" "Formica phears ShaoKahn's armoured nutsaq". This is quite recent.

haus (hows) (noun): to be "in da huas" is to have arrived, entering an area where you and your buddies hang out. Usage: "All my bi0tches in da haus now, boyeeee!" Recent.

Biotch (bee-otch) (exclamation, pronoun): Originating outside the elite community, this term was readily adopted due to its theoretically shocking nature. Believed to have been originated by rapper Too Short, and then also used by Snoop doggy dogg. Can be used as an insult or as a term of friendly rivalry. Most common spellings: Biotch, bi0tch, beeatch, bizitch. Usage: "Formica in da hauuus, beeeeaaatch!"

Letter Replacements:

q = k, ck
0= o
ew = oo
ewe = u, you
ph = f
@, 4 = a
3 = e
z = s
| = I

examples: "d00d, phear my skillz, bizitch! I have the m0st k-rad 3r33t warez in all of cali, beeeaaatch!"