I have many foreign friends and when I exchange messages with them, I noticed the words to express laughter on the internet are usually few and particular to each country. In Brazil, however, we have several different “words”, so I decided to research why there are so many variations of online laughter for Brazilians and what they are.
A fairly common way of laughing online in Brazil is using the letter “k” several times, like kkkkk. Other common online types are “huehuehue”, “hahahaha”, “rsrsrs”, and “asuhaushuahs” or their variations. Each of them is used in different contexts and by different demographics.
Despite the above being the main ones, you can see all different types of words for expressing a laughter online used in Brazilian Portuguese. In my experience, the use of each one of these vary wildly based on gender, age and context.
Below I outline the main uses for each of them but it is by no means an exhaustive list as in the end it also boils down to personal preferences and background of each person.
Why are there so many variations?
Brazil is a huge country and as such cannot be generalized into a single culture. Each region, state, city has its own culture and way of behaving. On top of that, you have people with different hobbies, interests, backgrounds.
This all makes for a boiling cauldron of cultural differences and these show everywhere, the internet being no different.
According to Statista, Brazil is the 15th largest market in the video game industry, having around 62 million active gamers, a number that rivals many of the biggest European markets, such as Germany, France and UK.
Gamers and people on social media (Twitter, anyone?) usually set the trends for online behaviors, and the way laughter is written on the internet is no different.
Now, I’m no expert on internet behavior but I can say that I notice patterns on how people use each type of laughter.
Each of them started using the internet at different times in history (can I already say that something that happened 20 years ago is history?) and had had contact with different tools and age groups will use different words for laughter as well as to adapt them to their audience.
For example, if chatting with a work colleague, I could use “rs” instead of “kkkkk” as it is usually seem as more restrained and appropriate for the work environment.
On the other hand, I could use pretty most all of the other laughter variations according to the subject and connotation intended.
HUEHUEHUE – Brazilian Gamers
The origin of this seems to be linked to the games Ragnarok and League of Legends, both widely famous and played in Brazil. According to the website Know Your Meme, this has been used in a webcomic and then became widespread.
Brazilian gamers are the ones that use this the most. The pranks and jokes are part of the Brazilian culture and it is usually downplayed as no big deal in the gaming world in Brazil.
This usually leads to many people thinking that Brazilian gamers as toxic and difficult to deal with. Brazilian gamers will usually use the “huehuehue” wording to signal that their hearty laughter in regards to their pranks but can use all sorts of other types.
For example, my brother is a classical millennial in his early thirties. He is also a heavy gamer, playing some of the most famous games, such as League of Legends (or LoL – pun intended), Fortnite, and who-knows-what will be the mainstream game by the time you read this article.
Whenever I am texting with him and he is being witty and/or sarcastic, huehuehue is always a part of our conversations.
KKKK – WhatsApp Family Groups
I know what you are thinking. “WTF? Are Brazilians… racist?”. I will not get into the weeds about if Brazilian people are racist or not, but I can guarantee the use of kkkkk has nothing to do with the extremist group that most people know as KKK. The letter K in Brazil sounds like kah, and if repeated several times, it sounds like the onomatopoeia of laughter.
As you can see, this doesn’t have any hidden meanings and in fact, is one of the variations used in Brazil the most. From internet forums and games chat rooms, to conversations with my mom on Facebook and WhatsApp, kkkkk is everywhere.
It is just easy to spam the letter k several times, instead of typing several different letters. My mother can’t really see the keyboard that well (and is always losing her glasses, which doesn’t help), so just choosing one letter and sticking to it makes it easier to “laugh online”.
The amount of “ks” you see is directly proportional to how much the person intends to show they are laughing. This can go on for several rows.
RS or RSRSRS – (In)Formal Text Messages
The letters rs are a contraction of the word “risos”, which purely means laughter in Portuguese. Nowadays, this is mostly used by baby boomers. This is used also when people are being coy or even when you are being polite with someone you might not know very well.
Similarly to the kkkk, the amount of rs you see written is proportional to how much laughter the person writing wants to convey on the message. However, this is hardly ever used more than 3 or 4 times (rsrsrs) and never to show exaggerated laughter but mostly used to mean the person is chuckling or giggling.
Other variations – The Keyboard Frenzy
There are many other variations of the Brazilian online laughter. I believe a lot of people (myself included) uses “hahahaha” online mostly.
For a true LOL, when you literally mean you are actually laughing, the “HAHAHAHAHAHA” in capitals is used (actually, just writing this makes me chuckle, I guess I am conditioned to laughing at these).
Another way of laughing out loud on the the internet, is to just use some random keyboard typing, such as ashuaohaispahd (you can find sapoaskapspaoks or afjkajfkajfkaf being used as well). There is no specific order nor specific letters and they all mean the same.
For a more low key, “witty” type of laughter, hehehe is usually your go-to (imagine the word hey without the “y” at the end, that’s how Brazilians would read this).
For example, if you make a joke or are clearing saying something supposed to be funny or smart, you would follow with hehehe.
This doesn’t get as intense as the previous ones and is not as widely used. I haven’t seen older people using this, so it seems to me this is more of a younger generation type of thing, although I am sure there would be exceptions.
If you are searching for a shy, more contained style (if that’s even a thing), “hihihi” is the one used mostly. I believe this is due to the “i” sound in Portuguese (hihihi would be pronounced as hee-hee-hee) and sounds like a quieter laughter.
Beware it doesn’t necessarily mean the person is shy, but simply that they are trying to display shyness for one reason or another.
Understanding even simple things, such as why and how Brazilians type their laughter in such a quirky manner and what they mean, helps by allowing better communication and understanding of each other’s culture. Other countries also have their own unique ways of expressing themselves online and it usually can be hard to appreciate the subtleties of all of this.
I hope this gives you a bit more insight into the way Brazilians communicate online as laughing is usually a big part of our culture.
The truth is, the internet has radically changed the way we interact with each other and open up the gates to get to know other cultures in a way that wasn’t possible before. In a few years, there might be new, different ways of expressing laughter online.
A few of these have been around for a long time, some others are relatively new. I wonder what will be the next random letters used to laugh online.
Check our Brazilian Culture category for more related posts!