For a full introduction, see the BBC article on ["An Explanation of l33t Speak"]. Microsoft also have a [tutorial]. One fears the irony of the sentence "For example, "5" or even "$" can replace the letter S." in the latter document was missed by its writers.
.... The BBC? is clearly completely insane. And its history is disputable. "Had almost gone out of fashion until MegaTokyo brought it back"? I wish. --Vitenka
Blaming its origin on hackers is also disputable. Hackers may use [jargon], but they generally have a lot of respect for language. And why should they wish to hide - outsiders wouldn't hang around their newsgroups, because they wouldn't understand much anyway.
It certainly originated in those groups (of people) though. Initially, AAUI, through people not being able to take the nicknames they wanted and not wanting to take joey2 etc. --Vitenka (It developed into a "keep out those who don't understand us" thing, but mainly in the wannabe regions. The bbc researchers appear to have taken the time honoured journalism route of making stuff up. Or, of course, it could be that the net is large enough that we've each experienced different histories.)
Basic translation (l33t to English)
1 -> i or l 3 -> e 4 -> a 7 -> t 8 -> b 0 -> o
Bear in mind that words will be messed up in other ways besides the application of numerals...
\/\/ -> w /\/ or |\| -> n |-| or [-] -> h | -> l Z -> S J -> Y (sometimes) 2 -> the word "to" or "too" 4 -> the word "for" -x0r -> -ck or -cker (hence c|-|1x0r = female) ... and so on...
Ah, and I thought it meant 33 litres, 34k teaspoons. A useful measure of what I am not sure. --garbles
I found a rather odd use of l33tsp34k today. I'm debugging what an application is doing running on a little circuit board beside me, which transmits messages in hexadecimal to my PC. It would have been easy enough to set up a code for those messages, so I'd see a message with some data and an identifier of "1" meaning "I received this data", while a message with some data and an identifier of "2" meant "I've started logging", etc. But it's much easier to understand messages with identifiers like "93C3173D" or "57A97" indicating "received" and "start" etc... :):) --AlexChurchill
I have become very sad. Very sad. I have actually started writing class notes in L33t, originally just to prevent myself falling asleep in classes. Now I feel shame whenever I look back at a page saying "I>3IVI0N5TR4T35 U53 0F 4LL1T3R4T10N 4NI> HYP3R80L3 70 P3R5U4I>3 R3I>3R5". --PHL4IVI3R1D3R
What's wrong with lower case? But serously - I am the proud posessor of lecture notes in Greek. Whatever keeps you awake... --Requiem
I'd probably do that in Latin, except I'm not good enough at Latin. And I find using caps easier in L33t. --PHLAIVI3R1D3R?