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Teh is an Internet slang neologism most frequently used as an English article, based on a common typographical error of "the". Teh has subsequently developed grammatical usages distinct from the. It is not common in spoken or written English outside technical or leetspeak circles, but when spoken, it is pronounced // or //.
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Along with pwn, teh is a standard feature of leetspeak. Originating from the common typo, it has become conventionalized in a variety of contexts. It is often used ironically, and can be used to mock someone's lack of "techie" knowledge or skills, as an insult, or to reinforce a group's elitism; cf. eye dialect.
As slang, grammatical usage of the word teh is somewhat fluid. Besides being an alternate spelling of the, teh also has grammatical properties not generally applied to the; in general, it is used somewhat like an intensified the. The spelling derived from a typographical mistake seen as the symptom of excitement, much the same as the interjection of the numeral one between exclamation marks. It can be used with proper names, as in "teh John;" compare the usage of the definite article in Greek: ο Ιωαννης (o Ioannes), literally "The John". A similar usage comes from colloquial German, where the definite article is used as a specifier to modify the noun: "Der Johann", again literally, "The John", could be used to identify John, and not Phil, as the subject performing a certain action. In Latin, the similar word ille and its declensions, which was at first an intensified article usually translated as "that", is the source of the derivations of the simple word for the and the personal pronouns (he, etc.) in the languages derived from Latin.
Furthermore, teh can be used in front of a verb in a novel form of gerund, and it has the ability to turn nearly any word into an intensified noun, which can take the place of a superlative. The best-known example of this is the word suck. Thus, the phrase "this sucks" can be converted into "this is teh suck" ("teh suck" being equivalent to the superlative "the suckiest", or simply "sucky"); the word pwn can be similarly converted (teh pwn or teh pwnage). The latter phrase is primarily used by the computer gaming community, and often intended humorously.
Teh can be used as an intensifier for the superlative form of adjectives; compare "that is teh best" and "that is the best." Teh has a similar use as an intensifier for unmodified adjectives, generally marking a sarcastic tone. For example, "that is teh lame" translates as "that is the lamest." This contrasts with the use of the in English to construct mass nouns (substantives) from adjectives, as in "blessed are the meek", where the meek denotes a class of people who are meek. On the other hand, "blessed are teh humble" would refer to an intensified group or individual who is "the most humble".
- Ross, Nigel (July 2006). "Writing in the Information Age". English Today. 22 (3): 39–45. doi:10.1017/S0266078406003063.
- LeBlanc, Tracy Rene (May 2005). "Is there a translator in teh house?": Cultural and discourse analysis of a virtual speech community on an internet message board (PDF). University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
- Tavosanis, Mirko (2007-01-08). "A Causal Classification of Orthography Errors in Web Texts" (PDF). IJCAI-07 Workshop on Analytics for Noisy Unstructured Text Data (AND-07). Hyderabad, India: International Association for Pattern Recognition. pp. 99–106. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
- Blashki, Katherine; Sophie Nichol (2005). "Game Geek's Goss: Linguistic creativity in young males within an online university forum (94/\/\3 933k'5 9055oneone)". Australian Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society. 3 (2): 77–86. Retrieved 2007-07-06.