English speaking netizens are quite familiar with LOL and its many permutations: ROFLOL, LUL, LULZ, and so forth. How do other languages signal laughter? We did a little research to find out.
There are as many abbreviations and signals used for laughter as there are languages online. While the bulk of online communication was initially in English, use of other languages is on the rise. Below is an infographic developed by Statistica to showing the distribution of language use on Twitter in September 2013. At that point, only 34% of tweets were in English and that percentage may very well have decreased in the meantime.
You will find more statistics at Statista
Here’s a look at how they indicate laughter in some of the other major languages on social media.
Brazilians are among the heaviest users of social media-over 79% of all Internet users in Brazil are active on social media platforms, and 47% of the entire population uses social media. Brazilian Portuguese speakers use “rs” to signal “risos” which is “laughs,” plural. Lots of laughs are shown with repeating rs-for example, rsrsrsrsrsrs… also kkkkkkkk is popular, simply because the repeated “K” sounds like laughter.
In Japan, half of all social network users are on Twitter, but the Japan-based messaging app Line gets the most use. On any platform, you can use the kanji character for warai which means laugh or smile, but most netizens type “w” by itself or in a string—wwwwwww—to signal laughter.
Malay is currently the fourth most popular language on Twitter and has one of the highest numbers of social media users per capita: 55% of the population. In Malaysia (and elsewhere) a popular equivalent of LOL is ha3 (hahaha).
Arabic-speaking countries are among the fastest growing users of social media. In 2014, the country with the highest number of Twitter users per capita was Kuwait. In Arabic, laughter is indicated by repeating the “ه” character (ههههه), which is the equivalent of the Latin letter h in hahahaha.
Online slang evolves and changes, but laughter never goes out of style!