|Synonyms:||fannish jargon, fannish vocabulary, fandom lingo, fanglage|
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Fanspeak is the specialized vocabulary used in fandoms whose meaning is not immediately obvious to mundanes (or even to fans from a different corner of fandom). The term is a play on Orwell's newspeak.
Some fanspeak words are common in many fandoms, others are fandom-specific. Often feral/threshold fandoms develop their own terminology that parallel naming conventions in other fandoms that "inherit" terms because many members have prior fandom experience, e.g. Xena's über vs. the term AU that's used in other fandoms. Many examples of fanspeak can be found in Fanlore's Glossary.
According to Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, the term was in use as early as 1952.
A Fan by Any Other Name : Fannish Slang and Nomenclature by Karen Ann Yost contains a discussion about the importance of correct terminology to fans:
From what I’ve seen and heard, though some SF fans are easily offended by labeling, they still insist upon placing labels on themselves and others. When I posted this statement to fans on the Internet, I received one particularly astute response. Arin Komis, a fan / academic / anthropologist, said, "Remember that many of us banded together in fandom for a sense of community. That community is breaking down because of outsiders who are alongside us, but who don’t really want anything to do with the social aspects of fandom. Labeling is a way to keep a sense of community about fandom. Fans are only offended when these labels are taken by outsiders and corrupted to insult or humiliate."
- Karen Ann Yost. A Fan by Any Other Name : Fannish Slang and Nomenclature. Strange New Worlds Issue 13 - April/May 1994. (Accessed 19 March 2015)