EMOTICONS (Does Not equal)EMOJIS THE EXPEDITION OF EMOTIONS THROUGH WRITTEN LANGUAGE

By Rohloff, Katherine | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), July 26, 2017 | Go to article overview

EMOTICONS (Does Not equal)EMOJIS THE EXPEDITION OF EMOTIONS THROUGH WRITTEN LANGUAGE


Rohloff, Katherine, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Nothing is more frustrating for Scott Fahlman, the father of the emoticon, than to be typing his signature smiley face in an email, or worse, as symbols in his code, and watch his brainchild automatically transform into "a big, ugly, stupid, yellow emoji."

"I don't want to stamp out the emoji, but I think they are ugly and overused because, to me, trying to make something that poses a creative challenge, like an emoticon means more in a conversation," said Mr. Fahlman, research professor for Carnegie Mellon University's Language Technologies Institute and Computer Science Department.

Inspired ironically by the bright yellow smiley faces displayed on T-shirts and balloons during the 1960s, Mr. Fahlman decided in 1982 to bring the retro grin to the CMU faculty bulletin board chats to help professors distinguish between sarcastic and serious posts. It quickly caught on, and soon the iconic sideways smiley face transcended faculty circles and made its way to Japan - inspiring Shigetaka Kurita to design the first emojis in 1999, with Apple then taking the bright ideograms global in 2012.

Now, those bright yellow smiley faces have followed him from his phone to the big screen as they star in "The Emoji Movie," which premieres Friday.

Exploring what it is like to be different in a world of sameness, the movie follows Gene, a "meh" emoji who was born multi-expressional in a world of single-expression emojis. Desiring to fit in, Gene embarks on a trip with other outcast emojis to learn how to be a "normal" emoji.

Although Mr. Fahlman doesn't think emojis are a creative challenge, Monica Riordan, assistant professor of psychology at Chatham University, begs to differ.

"Emojis are like a game where you can create meaning behind a language," she said.

What's an emoji?

Emojis are all about avoiding misunderstandings while texting. Like the emoticon, emojis are used as visual representations of body language and tone of voice in text, especially when clarifying sarcasm. The main difference between the emoticon and the emoji is in their design. An emoticon is created from typing out an expression or item on a keyboard while emojis are pre-made faces and items generated through an app on the phone.

Because emojis are meant to iron out any chance of miscommunication, the correct placement of an emoji is at the end of a sentence as a form of visual punctuation. When an emoji is used as a word or in the middle of a sentence, miscommunication increases, thus making the emoji useless in the text.

"Emojis disambiguitize texts, and it's not just the faces that do this," Ms. Riordan said. "They are necessary because the speaker tends to put responsibility on the recipient to understand sarcasm, but it's incumbent on the speaker, not the recipient, to make that distinction clear."

Interestingly, people who are not very proficient in technology tend to see emojis as pictograms (real), so they will stick to the actual meaning of the face or thing, whereas most of society sees emojis as ideograms (represents an idea), making the meanings more flexible. …

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