Language can tell us a lot about the culture surrounding it. This becomes all the more obvious when you look at words that are not translatable from one language to another.
For instance, in Japan, there is an art called “kintsugi,” where broken pottery is fixed using powdered gold. At first glance, this may come across as strange. Why take the time to fix pottery with gold no less?
But, when you look closer, you realize that the Japanese appreciate broken things and believe that it is in things’ nature to break eventually.
To truly see this point, you need only to realize that the Japanese have a word like Sabi, which means “to become desolate” yet refers to how things can age well and gain a respectable beauty with that age.
The Japanese also have a word called “wabi,” which acts as an invitation to rejoice in all of nature, not just the parts that shine brightest.
However, when language teaches us about culture, the culture in question doesn’t have to belong to a country.
In fact, it could belong to any community, even an online one, and plenty of those have been sprouting up over the past couple of decades given how fast the internet has been spreading.
A notable online culture, one that has not only spread like wildfire but has also influenced other online communities and cultures, is that of Twitch.
What’s more, each one of these words has its own picture, or emote if you will, as well as a long and fascinating history.
Today’s word might not have been born on Twitch, but it definitely owes its popularity to it. Today, we will look at “malding.”
- 1 What is the meaning of “malding”?
- 2 How the word “malding” came to be?
- 3 Back to the origin of “malding”
- 4 What’s Twitch?
- 5 What’s made Twitch so popular?
- 6 The spread of “malding”
- 7 The trademark story
What is the meaning of “malding”?
“Malding” is a combination of two words. You have “mad” on the one hand and “balding” on the other. Ergo, it literally means that someone is both mad and balding. And, when used, it usually means that someone is so mad that they are starting to go bald.
How the word “malding” came to be?
“Malding” is a portmanteau word.
A quick word on portmanteaus
If you don’t know what a portmanteau is, it is a combination or blending of words to create new ones.
Some portmanteaus you might have come across include “chortle” which is a combination of “chuckle” and “chortle,” “brunch” which is a melding of “breakfast” and “lunch,” and “smog” which is a combination of “smoke” and “fog.”
Interestingly, the word “portmanteau” itself is a portmanteau. You see, in French “porter” means to carry something, while “manteau” is a coat.
So, when you bring the two together, you get “portmanteau,” which, aside from meaning melded words, also means a large suitcase to carry your coat.
Back to the origin of “malding”
No one really knows where the word originally came from.
The first entry of the word “malding” was made in the Urban dictionary, and it dates back to 2011.
Yet, if you look at Google Trends, you will find that interest in this word goes back even before that. Some people have been googling this word as far back as 2004.
Nevertheless, the word never really took off back then, at least not like it has today.
“Malding”’s current popularity can be traced back to Twitch and the online gaming community.
Twitch is an online platform geared for gamers. How it works is that gamers can live stream their experience while other people watch them play their favorite video games.
Twitch really made it into the mainstream when Amazon bought it for nearly $1 billion back in 2014.
Even though the concept might not sound appealing to many, Twitch has not only spread like crazy, but it also boasts of more than 2.2 million monthly broadcasters along with 15 million daily active users, and that was back in 2017.
It has only grown since then, especially with the rise of online gaming. You have countless popular games, such as Fortnite, League of Legends, and Grand Theft Auto V.
Even chess is making a resurgence on chess thanks to streamers like Hikaru Nakamura and Alexandra Botez.
Moreover, broadcasters have a strong incentive to keep their fans coming back for more.
There is a lot of money to be made.
In fact, broadcasters can make money through subscriptions, partnerships, and gifts, and the platform’s most popular broadcaster, Ninja, entertains more than 11 million followers, earning him a reported $500,000 every month.
What’s made Twitch so popular?
In one word, Twitch owes its popularity to its culture. You see, Twitch users can interact with one another as well as with the broadcasters themselves through a chatroom or through direct messaging.
This enables the platform to foster a sense of community, a place where like-minded individuals can connect and discuss different aspects of gaming.
Furthermore, Twitch users tend to coalesce together and play pranks on the streamer they are watching, including spamming the chat or making fun of the streamer in some way.
Twitch also makes it possible for watchers to discover new games while rekindling their love for old ones.
This is not to mention that some broadcasters on Twitch will stream music performances, tutorials pertaining to arts and crafts, and much more.
Now, like any community, it didn’t take long for the good people on Twitch to start developing their own language, including the use of emotes.
Emotes are sort of like emojis, except they are even more diverse and varied. In essence, any streamer can create their own emotes, and fans of said streamer can use these emotes to identify themselves as members of the fan base.
If you want an idea of how powerful emotes are and how central they are to the Twitch community, you need only to know that while there are around 2000 emojis, there are more than 30,000 emotes. And, that difference is getting bigger every year.
Cultures within cultures
We’ve already talked about how Twitch as a whole can foster a sense of community and along with it a unique culture.
However, the more extraordinary aspect of this platform is that since each streamer and their fan base constitute a smaller community, they probably tend to develop their own unique culture that is different from that of other fan bases.
That is right. On Twitch, you can have different fan bases with different cultures. This is why emotes are so important to this community. They signify a sense of belonging to a particular microcosm. You can think of it as the insignia on the leather jacket of a group of bikers.
The culture of each fan base will be different, and a lot of it will have to do with the streamer. After all, it is the streamer’s channel that brings the group together in the first place, and these fans come to the channel because they either like the content being streamed or they like the streamer.
So, if you want to see this microcosm in action, we can take a look at Forsen and the Forsenboys.
(At this point, you might be wondering what any of this has to do with “malding.” I promise you, I’m not wool-gathering. This will all come together very soon.)
Forsen and the Forsenboys
Sebastian Hans Fors, who goes by Forsen, is a Twitch streamer who hails from Sweden. He plays Starcraft II and Hearthstone competitively. By subscriber count, Forsen ranks the 33rd according to streaming size.
He’s won several competitions, including an HTC Invitational in May 2015 and a Play it Cool streaming marathon.
As for his fan base, they call themselves the Forsenboys, and they are a rowdy bunch. They are responsible for spreading several memes and emotes.
For example, back in 2018, the Forsenboys took a warped image of Forsen’s face, called it “forsenE,” and managed to turn it into the most-used emote on Twitch throughout the world.
Wars between the cultures
And, like any place that allows the growth of microcultures within it, there tends to be a lot of ribbing and infighting between the different fan bases. Obviously, these “fights” are all in good fun where one fan base will troll another one.
A perfect case in point is how the Forsenboys will harass any female or minority streaming Hearthstone, Forsen’s primary game, on Twitch.
The Forsenboys will appear on the streamer’s chatroom and start hurling abuses left and right. Granted, this might be a bit more than just having a little fun, but it’s the internet. What were you expecting?
Occasionally, streamers will play jokes on other streamers as well. The thing is that in a community like that of Twitch, most streamers already know each other, and some of them are even good friends.
Therefore, the ribbing doesn’t just act as good-natured humor among friends, but it also helps increase the viewership of both streamers, the pranker and the prankee.
The stage is now set, and we can return to our word “malding” and see how it got a life of its own.
The spread of “malding”
“Mald” got its popularity thanks to- you guessed it- Forsen and the Forsenboys.
Back in 2019, as Forsen was streaming and playing a game, the viewers started spamming the chatroom, making fun of Forsen and his frustration with the game he was playing. The chatroom was filled with messages of “So bad, so mad!”
However, seeing as Forsen was also balding, the spamming evolved into “So bald, so mad.” Finally, that gave way to “So bald, so mald.”
Ergo, in a way, “mald” is actually a combination of three words, “bad,” “mad,” and “bald.”
When the term “mald” and other related memes kept showing up in Forsen’s chatroom, this prompted him to go check it up in the Urban dictionary on June 1st of 2019.
Ten days later, on June 10th, a Redditor by the name of ganondorf 69 posted a picture of Forsen and asked the community to upvote the picture so that it would show up as an organic Google search result whenever anyone types “mald.”
(If you’re wondering what a Redditor is, that is a whole other issue that we can’t dive in right now. All you need to know is that Reddit is another online platform, but rather than being focused on gaming, Reddit is about sharing content and creating discussion forums for its users.)
On June 23rd of 2019, a video was posted called “The Malding of Twitch.” In the video, several well-known Twitch streamers are shown to have bald spots or to be going bald entirely. It also features several already bald streamers.
After that, on the 1st of July, another streamer who calls himself Nymm posted a video where he explained how “mald” got its current popularity. He recounted the whole “So bald, so mald” story.
Today, “malding” is used to describe a player who is having a hard time with a game and is getting so frustrated with it that they just might start balding. Better yet, the expression fits better if the player is actually bald or starting to go bald.
Moreover, this word crossed over from Forsen’s chat and made its way into other Twitch communities. So, it should come as no surprise to learn that several other streamers along with their fan base use this word regularly.
The trademark story
In December of 2019, an interesting story developed.
You see, one of the streamers who picked up the word “malding” was Rob “Roflgator” Malecki. He was using “malding” regularly on his streams and chat.
One way Roflgator used the word “malding” was to tease another Twitch streamer known as Nagzz21. Basically, Roflgator photoshopped Nagzz21’s face and pasted onto the heads of malding people. See what I meant by streamers playing pranks on one another?
And, how did Nagzz21 decide to get back at Roflgator?
Well, Nagzz21, whose real name is Joey Bagels, decided to file a trademark application on the 4th of December to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, claiming exclusive rights for the word “malding” in the United States.
What’s more, he paid around $3,300 to buy the domain name malding.com, where he uploaded a video aimed at Roflgator.
In the video, Nagzz21 lets Roflgator that he had trademarked the word “malding” and that he had also bought the domain name.
Nagzz21 then starts rapping freestyle, saying that Roflgator’s use of the word “malding” provides grounds for trademark infringement and that not only will he sue Roflgator but that he will also take his house and channel.
To rub salt in the wound, Nagzz21 said that he’d rename Roflgator’s channel Nagzz22.
Here is a quick excerpt from the video.
Nagzz21 says, “I consulted with a lawyer, and I got the word “malding” trademarked, Malding TM. It’s trademarked by Nagzz21 LLC.
That’s my business. So, when you are using “malding” on your streams and stuff with your chat, that’s trademark infringement, and that’s bad.”
As for the diss track, here are a couple of bars.
“You’re the big-headed guy with the receding hairline. The courts will give me your channel, I’ll call it Nagzz22.”
Once the website was live, it wasn’t long before Roflgator found out about it. In fact, Roflgator’s chat was the one that prompted him to go and visit the site.
Obviously, Roflgator was shocked when he arrived at malding.com and couldn’t help but laugh at Nagzz21’s claim of ownership over the word “mald.”
He was also stunned that Nagzz21 was willing to pay more than three thousand dollars to purchase the domain. Roflgator said, “Shut up. What the f***? He paid $3,000 for this domain?”
As for the diss track, it got Roflgator laughing as he enjoyed one bar after the other.
The public reaction to Nagzz21’s prank
For many, Nagzz21’s response was a bit excessive, and trademarking the word as well as buying the domain were overreactions.
However, when speaking on the subject, Nagzz21 made it clear that it was an inside joke and that he wasn’t serious about the whole trademark thing.
He said, “This was an inside joke between two friends and communities. I don’t intend to stop anyone from using malding. This was all in good fun between two friends and blew up on Reddit.”
So, if you were concerned for a second that you may never be able to use the word “malding,” fear not. The coast is clear, and it was all a practical joke.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.