Verb Doubling

A standard construction in English is to double a verb and use it as an exclamation, such as “Bang, bang!” or “Quack, quack!”. Most of these are names for noises. Hackers also double verbs as a concise, sometimes sarcastic comment on what the implied subject does. Also, a doubled verb is often used to terminate a conversation, in the process remarking on the current state of affairs or what the speaker intends to do next. Typical examples involve win, lose, hack, flame, barf, chomp:

The disk heads just crashed.” “Lose, lose.

Mostly he talked about his latest crock. Flame, flame.

“Boy, what a bagbiter! Chomp, chomp!

Some verb-doubled constructions have special meanings not immediately obvious from the verb. These have their own listings in the lexicon.

The Usenet culture has one tripling convention unrelated to this; the names of ‘joke’ topic groups often have a tripled last element. The first and paradigmatic example was alt.swedish.chef.bork.bork.bork (a Muppet Show reference); other infamous examples have included:

  • alt.french.captain.borg.borg.borg

  • alt.wesley.crusher.die.die.die

  • comp.unix.internals.system.calls.brk.brk.brk

  • sci.physics.edward.teller.boom.boom.boom

  • alt.sadistic.dentists.drill.drill.drill

These two traditions fuse in the newsgroup alt.adjective.noun.verb.verb.verb, devoted to humor based on deliberately confounding parts of speech. Several observers have noted that the contents of this group is excellently representative of the peculiarities of hacker humor.