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ASKLFJHASKLJFH (a look at keysmashing)

ASKLFJHASKLJFH


What comes to your mind when seeing that string of random letters?

Am I excited? Happy? Angry?


Did you know that keysmashing actually has its own set of (LOOSE) rules? Look at these four keysmashes:


ASDFHGKJLA

QWROIYUQER

AS(&DSAJL@#

QW$%^R(*&^CNEW*


The first one probably looks the most familiar to those who use the QWERTY keyboard— but why? I will link a few articles that dive deeper into the study of keysmashing, but I will put some highlights of what studies have found in this post.


Going back to the question of the QWERTY keysmash, the reason why the first string of letters looks “better” than the other three is because they contain letters that all reside on the home row of the QWERTY keyboard. When keysmashing on a laptop/computer, you are less likely to find letters from the top row and random numbers and characters. This is because the bottom two rows are more easily accessible for fast, ‘random’ typing. There are also different kinds of keysmashes for those who are typing on a smartphone versus those who are typing on keyboards with layouts different to QWERTY (Dvorak, Colemak, AZERTY, etc.). More on this can be found in Gretchen McCulloch’s Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language (which, btw, I’ve started reading and really like so far). For a quicker read that summarizes what McCulloch says about keysmashing, check out this article.


If you are interested in a more in-depth article on keysmashing, check out this article by Allison Park. The research presented in the article proves that there are linguistic complexities with keysmashing, albeit seeming random, and Park discusses findings of what keysmashes are acceptable and what certain keysmashes mean. Here is the citation, but I’ve also included the link: Park, A. (2022). On the linguistic behavior of keysmashes. UC San Diego: San Diego Linguistic Papers. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/8cc2z9nx


For one last reading, there is a linguist, Rachel, who covers her own thoughts on the keysmashing phenomenon. Rachel dives into different keysmashing examples and also cites Gretchen McCulloch and the first article I mentioned. While this covers similar points to the other articles linked, this is an opinion piece and therefore both a different perspective and writing style from the other two. Here’s the link to her website!


I think it’s incredibly interesting how society has adapted linguistic meaning into random strings of letters. It’s just something I wanted to share— another linguistic musing, if you will! Personally, I used to keysmash a lot, but recently not so much. I’m not entirely sure why, but my assumption is that our habits adjust and change, and the keysmashing was merely a habit for a short period of time. It’s like how I refused to use text abbreviations like ‘lol’ and ‘brb’ for years, so I would type out either the full phrase or say ‘haha’ for ‘lol/lmao’; but now, I’ve completely stopped using ‘haha’ and instead use text abbreviations much more frequently.


We are a conglomerate of experiences, and our social experiences help shape our lexicon. There are words and phrases I have picked up from people, some that I use for a short period of time, and others that stick with me. ‘Y’all’ is probably the most prominent example of a word I picked up from an old friend— I use it relentlessly. I think the most recent word I’ve picked up from a friend is ‘pracky’. I’m surprised by some things that haven’t stuck, like the fact that majority of people in my life text in all lowercase, but who knows, maybe that’ll become my texting habit at some point. I mean, I used to text very properly and rigidly, and I’ve long since strayed away from that. I also used to overuse emojis, but have toned it down, and have even recently gone back to the keyboard emojis of ‘:)’ and ‘:/‘. Our texting habits are unique to us, but we still pick up new habits from others and tailor our communication to the different people we’re communicating to.


One last side note to tie things back into keysmashing, I keysmashed so regularly that my phone autocorrects my new keysmashing to a more common keysmash that I tend to do. For example, ‘Agsjaka’ got autocorrected to ‘AFAJAKA’ (yes, I just tested this).


Anyways, as always, thank y’all for reading, take care of yourselves, and look out for my next post!


AQ

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