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October 8, 2018

Female Internet Communities

I've noticed an interesting trend in female-centric internet communities, particularly beauty ones such as fashion and make-up. It is common for users to use the -ie diminutive to make a sort of colloquial version of a word. Some examples I've found are below:

  • lipstick > lippie
  • eyebrow dip > dippie
  • skinny jeans > skinnies
  • sunglasses > sunnies

Some other languages also have a trend of certain diminutives being considered feminine. Off the top of my head, in Russian turning 'spasibo' into 'spasibochki' (both mean thanks) is considered a very cutesy, feminine construction.

Gender differences can be found in all sorts of languages to a greater or lesser extent, but it's interesting to think about the way that gender differences can be found on the internet. For example, women are more likely to use emoji than men are, and men and women have different patterns of emoji usage.

Another female-dominated community is, unsurprisingly, the online mommy community. I've noticed that there is a jargon: LO is short for little one, which is an idiomatic way to refer to a child; DH is short for dear husband. Child and husband are basic familial terms, so it is interesting that these communities have come up with ways to make the terms more opaque to outsiders. The use of acronyms in particular reminds me of business culture, where initialisms are used liberally (mocked in the movie Officespace with "TPS reports").

Have you noticed any trends in how slang and jargon develops in female vs male dominated communities? How would it compare to mixed-gender communities?

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