The term LOL means laughing out loud , which in Spanish means something like “laugh out loud ”, “laugh out loud”, “laugh out loud”, “laugh a lot” or “laugh out loud”.
LOL is used in Spanish to communicate that something has been funny. For example, someone might say in an app message “lol, that was really funny” or “lol, if I wasn’t expecting it.”
A conversation on whatsapp could be:
-Juan: today I fell because I was distracted chatting.
-María: lol , I would have liked to see you.
It is therefore an acronym adopted from English, with no other changes than the pronunciation.
This of course means that LOL is a linguistic loan that spread around the world very quickly, due to the influence of globalization, English and computers in the late 20th century.
Consequently, LOL can certainly qualify as a full-fledged neologism.
Origin of the term LOL
LOL is unquestionably a relatively recent word, but its etymology could not be addressed without touching on the context in which it originated.
It was, therefore, the 20th century and in the middle of that century, computing was developing very rapidly.
From the gigantic models that occupied university rooms to the smallest ones that could fit in a suitcase, the computer was transformed at breakneck speed.
In other words, computers didn’t just change in size; they also changed their internal structure. Their hardware was radically renewed over the years and with them came new words to define them.
Some, in fact, were as obsolete as the objects to which they referred, as they were replaced by better devices and that is why their use and commercialization was discontinued. One of those cases is the floppy disk , replaced today by the pen drive .
Other samples of these neologisms are those that are used daily: laptop , smartphone , tablet , socket , bit , bug , fix , cracker , hacker , kernel (for Linux users), scanner , joystick , and an etcetera of words plus.
Similarly appeared acronyms who left strings of words much longer, such as memory RAM (for Random Access Memory , “Random Access Memory”) and ROM (for Read Only Memory , “Read Only Memory”).
In this way, the newly arrived words were also related to software (for example, app , so mentioned in the field of tablets and smartphones ) and later penetrated more deeply, such as programming languages, writing, computer programs and of course in video games.
English was everywhere and by the end of the 20th century the main computer companies in the world were competing in the market, such as Apple and Microsoft.
The rise of modern operating systems resulted in the development of a revolutionary software architecture that would forever change communications between users.
The Internet, which had remained a purely military technology in the 1950s, was now on the verge of popularity among ordinary people who did not necessarily have something to do with the government, the military, or corporations.
Thus, the Internet brought with it the reform of communications with electronic mail, email . But it also gave birth to a means of communication between people in a more simultaneous way, in real time, and that is chat .
The chat was a boost because it managed to have an instant chat without having to wait hours or days for the sender’s response to arrive; the conversation, then, was done instantly, on the spot.
However, time was limited and it was better to say more with fewer resources. In this way, the acronym LOL appeared in 1993, which was used in chat to shorten laughter.
That is, the chat user wrote LOL instead of laughing out loud , in the same way that at that time there was extensive use of RAM, in order to save words and by extension ideas.
And the LOL of English was exported with the same meaning to the other countries of the globe.
In American English, more specifically that of the United States, LOL is pronounced with an elongated “a” and no rounded lips that phoneticians know as the open back vowel / ɑː /; therefore the correct thing is to say / lɑːl /.
For its part, in British English, which is the United Kingdom, this acronym uses the open back vowel / ɒ /, so the LOL of Great Britain is said / lɒl /, as if the “o” make the lips assume a rounded position.
In both American English and British English, the consonants of LOL are alveolar lateral approximants, that is, the / l / of the phoneticians and almost the same as the ―the “l” – of Spanish.
With Spanish and other languages, the pronunciation will be done according to the phonetic rules that correspond to them.
If the transcription of the AFI is followed, in Spanish LOL it is said / lol /, that is to say that a short back vowel is used here semi-closed and rounded with two lateral alveolar approximant consonants, which in simple terms is the “l” and the ” or ”traditional of Spanish speakers, both peninsular and American.
Spelling and syntax
The writing of LOL is universal in all languages, since it is a foreigner that is not prone to modifications.
It is possible that LOL can be adapted to other writing systems such as the aliphate of the Arabic, the Cyrillic of the Russians or the syllabaries of the Japanese, but this is not a frequent phenomenon because it is more practical to represent this acronym through the Latin alphabet.
LOL, in fact, it can be written in lower case (lol). There is not always a fixed rule, but many times it has been observed that LOL is put at the end of the sentence, like the following example: By accident I put my pants backwards lol.
Context in which LOL is used
The meaning of LOL gives a clear clue of how and when it should be used.
As a laugh is expressed and a situation that seems funny or makes people laugh, and as an idea is intended to be understood as a joke, LOL is therefore an acronym that is only used in informal situations, especially if it is in social networks and text messages.
Other expressions used in social networks
Forever alone .
Turn down for what .
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- Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 3rd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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- Daintith, John and Wright, Edmund (2008). A Dictionary of Computing, 6th edition. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
- Harper, Douglas (2017). Online Etymology Dictionary. Pennsylvania, United States. Recovered from etymonline.com
- Howe, Denis (2017). Free On-line Dictionary of Computing. London, United Kingdom. Recovered from foldoc.org
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- Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 9th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.