A shorthand method of spelling found on many British academic bulletin boards and talker systems. Syllables and whole words in a sentence are replaced by single ASCII characters the names of which are phonetically similar or equivalent, while multiple letters are usually dropped. Hence, ‘for’ becomes ‘4’; ‘two’, ‘too’, and ‘to’ become ‘2’; ‘ck’ becomes ‘k’. “Before I see you tomorrow” becomes “b4 i c u 2moro”. First appeared in London about 1986, and was probably caused by the slowness of available talker systems, which operated on archaic machines with outdated operating systems and no standard methods of communication.
Hakspek almost disappeared after the great bandwidth explosion of the early 1990s, as fast Internet links wiped out the old-style talker systems. However, it has enjoyed a revival in another medium — the Short Message Service (SMS) associated with GSM cellphones. SMS sends are limited to a maximum of 160 characters, and typing on a cellphone keypad is difficult and slow anyway. There are now even published paper dictionaries for SMS users to help them do hakspek-to-English and vice-versa.
See also talk mode.