That acronym isn't funny anymore: what's in a LOL?

Loads more than laugh out loud

Linguistic expert John McWhorter has expounded on the topic of LOL and how the evolution of the acronym isn't a sign of the impending doom of the English language, but rather a sign of it all going rather well.

He likens the gentle influx of "tech terms" to the English language to that time when Latin turned slowly into French.

On CNN, he writes: "Let's face it - no mentally composed human being spend his or her entire life immersed in ceaseless hilarity. The LOLs must mean something else.

"They do. They signal basic empathy between texters. What began as signifying laughter morphed into easing tension and creating a sense of equality.

"That is, 'LOL' no longer 'means' anything. Rather, it 'does something' - conveying an attitude - just as the ending '-ed' doesn't 'mean' anything but conveys past tense. LOL is, of all things, grammar.

"Texting is not the mangling of language - it's the birth of a new one."


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News Editor (UK)

It's a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she's constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. And having been immersed in the world of tech and tech rumours for more than six years, she can spot a photoshopped iPhone 8 image from 20 paces.