The word is derived by convenience truncation of the term transliteration, and most probably its usage originated in several places.
An example of early "translit" is the DOS program TRANSLIT by Jan Labanowski, which runs from the command prompt to convert a Cyrillic file to a Latin one using a specified transliteration table.
Due to its informal character, there was neither well-established standard nor common name.
More recently the term "translit" emerged to indiscriminately refer to both programs that transliterate Cyrillic (and other non-Latin alphabets) into Latin, as well as the result of such transliteration.
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Imagine that, in the course of our conversation, I -- and this may require some extra imagination -- say something utterly, awesomely hilarious. Laughter rendered in letters and numbers and characters -- laughter that transcends language but also, online, utterly relies on it.
And then, much the same way "ha" begat "haha" begat "hahaha," the sentiment became extended -- to "ww" and then "www" (and also, if you're so inclined, to "wwwwwww").
Chinese (Mandarin): 哈哈 or 呵呵 Though laughter is written 笑声 and pronounced xiào shēng, Mandarin also relies on onomatopoeia for laughter: 哈哈, pronounced hā hā, and 呵呵, pronounced he he. Interestingly, the number 5, in Mandarin, is pronounced as "wu" -- meaning that Thai's "55555" would, in Chinese, be prounounced "wuwuwuwuwu." This is the sound equivalent, a Chinese-speaking redditor points out, of "boohoo" -- meaning that laughter in one language is crying in another.
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