Thursday, May 12, 2016

A New Form of Language

The first set of emoji---there are hundreds to choose from---on the iPhone keyboard

Sure, emoji ๐Ÿ˜€ are cute when used sparingly, but when I see them all the time in a correspondent's text messages, I begin to wonder about her writing skills. ("Use your words," we remind children whose emotions leave them tongue-tied).

But not so fast, old guy. You may be too quick to dismiss a birth of a new form of language, suited to online communicating:
Emoji assist in a peculiarly modern task: conveying emotional nuance in short, online utterances. “They’re trying to solve one of the big problems of writing online, which is that you have the words but you don’t have the tone of voice,”....Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and author, says....In an age of rapid chatter, emoji prevent miscommunication by adding an emotional tenor to cold copy.
As with any language, there are rules:
when we use face emoji, we tend to put them before other objects. If you text about a late flight, you’ll put an unhappy face followed by a plane, not the reverse. In linguistic terms, this is called conveying “stance.” Just as with in-person talk, the expression illustrates our stance before we’ve spoken a word.
People of a certain age are finding it difficult to keep up with these changes in language and communication, and we feel so, so....๐Ÿ˜ข.

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