Image source: Worthy Life Talks
Even before the prevalence of acronyms to limit alphanumeric use in the days of 160-character text messages, the three letter code LOL was already being used. Signifying that the person was LAUGHING OUT LOUD, the short message code began to evolve into other such acronyms as LMAO (Laughing My Ass Off) or ROFL (Rolling on the Floor Laughing), or the combination ROFLMAO (just put those two codes together).
Image source: Psychology Today
That, however, is assuming you are ‘laughing’ in English. Let’s see how other languages encode their laughter:
This one’s pretty easy to understand. With a basic knowledge of Spanish, you can easily get that the Spanish J makes the same sound as the English H, so jajaja = hahaha.
Hebrew: xà xà xà
Just as with Spanish, the Hebrew X makes a sound similar to the English H, except a bit more throaty. Imagine trying to clear your throat, and you’ll get a close enough sound.
The Arabic number 5 (‘faiv’ in English) is pronounced as haa in Thai. So, those symbols are not signifying a specific quantity, but of somebody laughing haahaahaa.
Whereas the previous examples still sound out the English Hahaha, and although Nigerians also use that and the more common LOL/LMAO, there is a unique laughing code they use: LWKMD. Spoken in broken/pidgin English, it means “Laugh Wan Kill Me Die” or “I’m laughing so hard, I’m going to die”. So, basically, it’s their version of ROFLMAO.
A shorter version version of the Nigerian example is the French MDR, which signifies Mort de Rire. Literally, it means “Dying of Laughter”.
Laughter, they say, is universal. Apparently, the encoders were laughing so hard, they didn’t get the memo.
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