August 28, 2008 12:01 PM   Subscribe

How do people who communicate in languages without capital letters yell at each other online?

Bold? Italics? What do they do when html is forbidden, then? Or do they not yell at each other online at all?

(This was sparked by my annoyance at a woman at work who insists on expressing urgency BY USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS ALL THE TIME. My roommate studies Japanese and I asked her how people type-yell in Japanese, and she was stumped, and so was google: Hence, I ask you.)
posted by millipede to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I suspect punctuation becomes plays a big part, as does word choice.
posted by gwenlister at 12:06 PM on August 28, 2008

Best answer: Japanese people are much too polite to shout.

Seriously, though, there are a couple typographic conventions available to them. One is to type in katakana, which fills roughly the same role that italics fill in English. Another is to l e t t e r s p a c e for emphasis. In reality, I haven't seen much of either, and a quick scan of, where you'd expect to see pretty much every possible abuse of typography, didn't reveal them.

Japanese writers also make heavy use of non-textual symbols like ☺♪✭, sometimes mixed into emoticons. These aren't analogous to shouting, but do convey various emotional overtones.
posted by adamrice at 12:14 PM on August 28, 2008

Japanese has particle words and expressions that can be used to denote a heavy emphasis, analogous to shouting. Sometimes a different script like katakana is used, along with a liberal helping of exclamation points.
posted by splice at 12:21 PM on August 28, 2008

Wikipedia has an article on emphasis in text. I linked to the "alternative methods for emphasis" section, which is relevant and mentions the "Japanese text can be emphasized in a similar way by writing the emphasised text entirely in katakana phonetic characters" thing other people have talked about.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:42 PM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

The direct relation to shouting caps would be exclamation points and katakana. (See most Japanese variety shows or manga)

I have no idea how they do it in Chinese though, where they don't have an alternate character set like kana to use.
posted by Ookseer at 12:49 PM on August 28, 2008

I've seen the use of ridiculously big fonts or different font colours to achieve this effect on Chinese forums, but am not enough of a habitué to say that's the only or even most common way of doing it.
posted by Abiezer at 1:01 PM on August 28, 2008

They often use letterspacing in Russian (see Wikipedia article for German examples).
posted by languagehat at 1:42 PM on August 28, 2008

Passive aggressive innuendos, :::coughing::::, /sarcasm, put-downs, displays of prejudice, threats (size doesn't count - the smaller, the creepier actually) and basic mind-fcking are the usual war-like displays and they never have to raise their voices to get their intent across either.
posted by watercarrier at 2:03 PM on August 28, 2008

In Chinese you can also voice exasperation by the ending syllable you use when writing a statement. Things like 囉,喔,嘿 etc. Lots of things with the 口 radical (the box on the left - it denotes a mouth, and can often mean that the syllable has no meaning, as a word, on its own, but still carries a sound with it. This is also used a lot in transliterating, but that's beside the point).

Emoticons are also big for expressing surprise 0_0 happiness ^^ etc... But if you use words like "pay attention!" "this is important!" "I hope your kid is born without an anus!" and exclamation points, you don't really need to use capital letters in English, either.
posted by Herman Hermanson at 2:15 PM on August 28, 2008

Best answer: What comes to mind when I try to think of how Chinese shout online is mainly varying the tone and sentence structure. People can manage to sound very aggressive/angry/rude even without the help of capitals or their equivalent. Excessive punctuation and a much, much wider range of emoticons (especially on bbs's) also help.

For example, ending a rhetorical question with 不, or repetition of certain words (氣氣氣死我啦!=I am SO pissed!), colourful swearing or rougher, disrespectful ways of address (referring to someone as jiahuo 傢伙 'fellow') always signal DANGER THIS PERSON IS GETTING PISSED for me.
posted by monocot at 2:49 PM on August 28, 2008

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