Posted by: markfender | October 20, 2015

LOL

Language, especially the English language, is constantly changing and evolving.

lolHardliner English nerds will decry these changes, but I think they’re cool. I like words, and so it follows that I also like new words. So, while I might correct you (no, no, I will correct you) on things like “ironic” and “literally,” I’m actually totally fine with brand new made-up words like “hella” or “tweet.” One of my favorite phrases in recent years is “man what i don’t even” and that violates lots of English grammar rules.

To my mind, that’s kind of the purpose of words to be used in brand new ways that other people hadn’t thought of before. We wouldn’t have “dishearten” without Shakespeare adding “dis-” to the already existing word “hearten,” giving us a word that we still use today (whereas it’s root word has kind of disappeared from common usage).

I’m even cool with nouns becoming verbs, like the aforementioned “tweet” or “google.” But what I am not okay with is LOL.

Back in the day of our first IM conversations, LOL became popular. It stands for Laugh Out Loud (but everyone already knows that) and it fulfilled the singular purpose of expressing humor over the internet where people couldn’t see our reaction. You let someone know that they’d said something funny by letting them know you were laughing with LOL. And with the speed of internet communication and mankind’s general laziness, the phrase Laughing Out Loud was shortened to the acronym LOL. Over the years, it changed to lowercase letters and has, in recent years, even become a verb. There’s still some issues with how to pronounce it (I hear “ellohell” or “lol” still interchangeably), but it’s kind of an accepted word now.

But, we already have a word in English that fulfills this express purpose. There’s already a word that lets someone else know that you found what they said humorous, and it’s already shorter than LOL – “Ha.” And “Ha” is way more expressive. You can add an extra “h” on the end to emphasize it. You can repeat it, either as a string of letters or as the word repeated many times to really show how humorous you find something. You can tack on lots of different punctuation for various emphasis. You can even change the middle letter to an “e” for a more nuanced expression of humor (or laugh like Santa Claus with another vowel change). It’s more expressive and usable in more situations than “lol.”

So, there’s really no point to “lol.” It’s longer than the word it’s replacing, which seemed to be the original point of its creation, has less ways to change it for expressive purposes, and generally just doesn’t provide anything to the lexicon. So, let’s go back to “ha,” please.

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