JEJEMON is a pop culture phenomenon in the Philippines. Jejemons are defined by Urban Dictionary as those “who has managed to subvert the English language to the point of incomprehensibility and online lynch squads.” A Jejemon is described as one of a “new breed of hipsters who have developed not only their own language and written text but also their own sub-culture and fashion.” Jejemons also imitate “gangster” like attitudes which make them similar to the English chav, Scottish ned, Irish skanger, Russian gopnik and Australian & New Zealand bogan.

ETYMOLOGY

The word “Jejemon” supposedly originated from online users’ penchant to type in “hehehe” as “jejeje”, either because “jeje” is derived from Spanish, whose speakers denote the interjection as laughter, or because the letters “h” and “j” are beside each other, and that it is appended by “-mon” that came from the Japanese anime Pokémon, with “-mon” meant as “monster,” hence “jeje monsters.”

ORIGINS

The origins of short-handed typing was through the short messaging service, in which each text message is limited to 160 characters. As a result, an “SMS language” developed in which words were shortened in order to fit the 160-character limit. But the “new generations” of jejemons aren’t really “conserving” characters instead they are lengthening it. In the internet, the Jejemon phenomenon started in “early April.” On April 14, 2010 at Pinoy Tumblr, a post about vice presidential candidate Jejomar Binay indicating that he was the Jejemon’s preferred vice presidential candidate, complete with a fake poster with him called as “Jejemon Binay.” Later the use of word “Jejemon” to refer such people made rounds in various Filipino internet message boards. Such short-handed language is not limited to Filipinos: Thais use “5555” to denote “hahahaha,” since the number 5 in Thai language is pronounced as “ha.”

DEMOGRAPHICS

The Jeje-mons are said to be the new “jologs”, a term used for Filipinos of the lower income class. Jejemons are often attributed to be of inferior intellect, but this belief may be wrong as a number of them exist in exclusive schools and science high schools. The parameters of being classified as a Jejemon are still unclear, and how the different “levels” of “Jejemonism” are reached, although  there are named levels such as “mild,” “moderate” and “severe” or “terminal.”

JEJENESE AND JEJEBET

The sociolect of the Jejemons, called Jejenese, is derived from English, Filipino and their code-switched variant Taglish. Their alphabet, Jejebet, uses the Roman alphabet, including the Arabic numerals and other special characters. Words are created by rearranged letters in a word, alternating capitalization, over-usage of the letters H, X or Z and mixture of numeric characters and our normal  alphabet. The spelling convention shares similarities with Leetspeak.

Examples:

  • Filipino: “3ow ph0w, mUsZtAh nA?” translated into Filipino as “Hello po, kamusta na?, and in English as “Hello, how are you?”
  • English: “i wuD LLyK tO knOw moR3 bOut u. crE 2 t3ll mE yur N@me? jejejejeje!” translated into English as “I would like to know more about you, care to tell me your name? Hehehehe!”
  • aQcKuHh- means me/ako
  • lAbqCkyOuHh- means I love you
  • yuHh- means you
  • jAjaJa- garbled words conveying laughter
  • jeJejE- a variation of jAjaJa; conveys sly laughter
  • iMiszqcKyuH- means I miss you
  • eEoWpFhUeEhsxz – means hi/hello

REACTIONS

Initial reaction to the Jejemons is irritation and bewilderment. Jejemons are likely to encounter hate; some had seen their Facebook wall with people wishing their death. Several Facebook fan pages were created both in support and against the group. However, celebrities such as Rico Blanco, Alessandra de Rossi, Ces Drilon, and Lourd de Veyra have condemned the wholesale ridicule of the subculture.YouTube videos were also uploaded parodying the Jejemons, connecting them to the election campaign. Edited television advertisements of Nacionalista Party proclaiming their disdain for Jejemons, and an edited photograph of Gilberto Teodoro with him holding a sign saying that the Jejemons be “brought back to elementary school” went viral.

As part of the pre-school year clean-up of school s for the upcoming 2010-11 school year. the Department of Education (DepEd) strongly discourages students from using Jejemon spelling and grammar, especially in text messaging. Communicating with other using Jejemon are said to cause deterioration of young Filipino students’ language skills. The Department of Education (DepEd) may be concerned about the effect of the jejemon subculture in schoolchildren’s future, but a Filipino professor says there is no cause for alarm. “Lilipas din ‘yan at normal lang na magkaroon ng variations sa language. In fact, healthy pa nga sa wika ‘yun,” said Dr. Jimwell Naval. The professor added that jejemon is just a fad; it will not affect Pinoy lifestyle as a whole. Neither will jejemon, he said, affect the performance of schoolchildren in entrance exams because the use of jeje-speak or jejenese, the “language” of jejemon, is just marginal. Naval called on the DepEd instead to focus on academic issues since jejemon is just a set of codes among today’s kids and is not language or literature. The youth who are into jejemon just want to give a new spin to the Filipino language.

The League of Filipino Students (LFS) is also calling on the DepEd to focus on other problems in education instead of the jejemon issue. “They are barking at the wrong tree pohw. Mas maganda mag-all out war na lang sila sa mga textbook errors at corruption issues sa DepEd imbis na jejemon,” said Terry Ridon of the LFS.    Parents and teachers should be focusing their attention more on forming the values of the young rather than curbing their preference for “jejemon” or unusual or fancy spelling habits when composing text messages, a Roman Catholic prelate Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on the Youth chair,  Bishop Joel Baylon said that he believes jejemon addicts were simply expressing themselves and that the unusual way of spelling words will be a ‘passing fad.’ “It’s not to be worried about, because the young people, they are  just doing crazy things. It’s just an expression, a part of lifestyle like their way of dressing, their hairstyle.  It  is  their way to express themselves,” Baylon said.

(Source: Wikipedia, Abs-cbnnews.com, Inquirer.net)

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