Flirting by text message has its own language. The terms
and acronyms in this list will help you give your messages maximum appeal.
Emoticons and E-mail Shorthand
Smileys are tiny pictures made from ordinary ASCII characters that are meant to be looked at with the head tilted to the left.
Smileys came about when e-mail correspondents felt the need to convey emotional content such as sarcasm, laughter and other feelings as part of their messages.
Without smileys, simple statements could easily be misinterpreted:
You're an idiot! :-)
Sometime during 1981, Scott Fahlman, who is now a Principle Research Scientist in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, devised a scheme for encoding and conveying one's feelings as small text "glyphs" to overcome this frustration.
Scott was the first to use smileys in electronic mail and in posts to BBS message boards and Internet newsgroups, as well as in personal e-mail.
emoticon, sometimes called a smiley, is a sequence of printable
characters such as
:-) or a small image that is intended to
represent a human facial expression and convey an emotion. Emoticons are a
form of paralanguage commonly used in email messages, in online bulletin
boards, or in chat rooms. The word emoticon is a portmanteau based
on emotion and icon.
A similar portmanteau, verticon (based on vertical and icon), is sometimes used when referring to the East Asian style of emoticon.
An early known instance of using text characters to represent a sideways smiling (and frowning) face is in a newspaper advertisement in the New York Herald Tribune, March 10, 1953, on page 20, columns 4–6. Promoting the film Lili, starring Leslie Caron, the ad read as follows:
You'll laugh :)
You'll cry :(
You'll love <3 Lili
The film opened nationwide, so the ad may have run in many newspapers.
In 1963 the smiley face, a yellow button with a smile and two dots representing eyes, was invented by freelance artist Harvey Ball. This smiley presumably inspired later emoticons; the most basic emoticon image is a small yellow smiley face.
The earliest known non-ASCII emoticons were used in the PLATO IV program as early as 1972, which allowed users to type multiple text characters "on top" of each other. Many combinations of ordinary text characters were known to produce face-like patterns, which were used as emoticons.
Several sites on the World Wide Web (such as Connected Earth) assert that Kevin Mackenzie proposed -) as a joke-marker in April 1979, on a message board called MsgGroup. The idea was to indicate that a message was intended tongue-in-cheek — the hyphen was a tongue, not a nose. Although it has two out of the three characters of the smiley, its intended interpretation was different and it doesn't appear to have inspired the later smileys.
Every issue of the British fashion magazine i-D, founded in 1980, has featured a cover model with a winking right eye (or sometimes obscured in a different way).
Creation of :-)
The creator of the original ASCII emoticons :-) and :-(, with a specific suggestion that they be used to express emotion, was Scott Fahlman; the original proposal made by Fahlman on CMU CS general board on September 19, 1982 (at 11:44) was retrieved from old backup tapes on September 10, 2002, by Jeff Baird. See Fahlman's website for a full account of the thread.
19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-)
From: Scott E Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>
I propose that the following character sequence [be used] for joke markers:
Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark
things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use
In Internet forums, text emoticons are often automatically replaced with small corresponding images, which came to be called emoticons as well. In some versions of Microsoft Word, the Auto Correct feature recognizes basic smiles such as :) and :(. Many popular instant-messaging (IM) tools perform such replacement automatically when receiving a message. Originally, these image emoticons were fairly simple and replaced only the most straightforward and common text strings, but over time they became so complex that the more specialized emoticons are often input using a menu of sometimes hundreds of emoticons. Often these menus go beyond the realm of emoticons and also have other objects such as musical instruments and can sometimes make sounds upon receiving the message.
An August 2004 issue of the Risks Digest (comp.risks on USENET) pointed out a problem with such features which are not under the sender's control:
It's hard to know in advance what character-strings will be parsed into what kind of unintended image. A colleague was discussing his 401(k) plan with his boss, who happens to be female, via instant messaging. He discovered, to his horror, that the boss's instant-messaging client was rendering the "(k)" as a big pair of red smoochy lips. 
In many online computer games, emoticons are commonly used.
Emoticons have developed over the years as a replacement for facial expressions and other emotional cues lacking in text-only communication; the goal is to avoid misunderstandings due to the lack of contextual information. Many books have been written on this subject, with voluminous listings of emoticons.
Traditionally, the emoticon in Western style is written from left to right, the way one reads and writes in most Western cultures. Thus, most commonly, you'll see the eyes on the left, followed by the nose and mouth. To more easily recognise them, tilt your head towards your left shoulder (or occasionally towards your right shoulder if the "top" of the emoticon is towards the right).
The smile is represented with a basic smiley :-). The colon represents the eyes, the hyphen is for the nose, and the parenthesis is for the mouth.
Many variants exist with different symbols substituted for the basic ones. The symbol for the nose is often omitted, for example :) or ;). When the colon is replaced with the equals sign, =), the nose is almost always omitted (so one would not see =-), for example).
The following examples all use the basic form, but each of them can be transformed to be rotated, to lose the hyphen and/or to replace the eyes symbol. Lately it has become common to omit the hyphen.
There are endless possibilities, because people are very good at creating and interpreting pictures as faces. See ASCII art.
Some variants are also more common in certain countries because of reasons like keyboard layouts, for example the smiley =) is common in Scandinavia and Finland where the keys for = and ) are placed right beside each other and both need the use of the shift key.
A few people turn the smiley around, a "left handed" smiley (: This left-handed smiley can sometimes cause miscommunication though, since some hardcore net addicts tend to drop the : representing the eyes [leaving ) instead of :) ] so what was intended to be a smile could be interpreted as a frown.
There also exists the use of umlauts to achieve emoticons that aren't tilted to the side. For example, Ö is the upright version of :O (meaning that one is alarmed).
As more of a joke than anything – but also as a political statement – "frownies", the symbol :-( , were trademarked by Despair, Inc. in U.S. Trademark Serial No. 75502288, Registration No. 2347676. The trademark applies only to "Printed matter namely, greeting cards, posters and art prints". In January 2001 Despair issued a satirical press release in which it was announced that the company would be suing "over 7 million internet users" who had infringed their trademark. They subsequently issued another press release a month later in response to the reaction their claim had generated.
XD (used to represent laughing) supposedly became popular on the internet shortly after it was used in the television show, South Park, usually explained to the unknowing as the emoticon being akin to the animation method used when a character was laughing so hard they had their eyes closed (a sideways X for their eyes).
History of :|
The emoticon, :| was an emoticon developer to show a blank expression or stare. However it soon developed into a trend where one would constantly use the emoticon and the meaning would change or stretch depending on the sentence. Some examples.
Sarcasm: "Wow, you're really funny :|!"
Shocked: "You're an idiot :|!"
There are several more meanings that :| can be used for. :| is occasional used by people who troll, spam, flame, ect. It is most commonly used for annoyance and shock and is considered an underground fad or a cult fad.
Head and hands emoticons
These emoticons aren't rotated, they include the letter "o" for a human head, and slashes and backslashes for the arms.
They're also usable for displaying "animations", e.g. a crowning process:
orz (sometimes seen as Or2, On_, OTZ, OTL, O7Z, Sto, Jto, _no, _|￣|○) spawned a subculture in late 2004. It illustrates a person facing left and kneeling on the ground: the "o" symbolizes the head, the "r" represents the arms and the body while the "z" shows the legs. People use the pictograph to show that they have failed and/or they are in despair. It is not read phonetically, the letters are spelled out. Not to be confused with m(_ _)m, which means an apology.
Orz is associated sometimes with the phrase "nice guy" - that is, the concept of males being rejected for a date by girls they are pursuing with a phrase like "You're a nice guy," "I'd like to be your friend," etc.
On imageboards, it has been used not only for failure and despair, but also as a symbol for the kowtow, illustrating instead a person bowing down in worship of a certain picture that was posted.
Many other emoticons are inspired by orz, including:
OGC - man masturbating himself
oec - man masturbating himself (lefthander)
08>C - woman masturbating herself
East Asian style
Users from East Asia (particularly those who visit 2channel) popularized a style of emoticons known as verticons (Japanese: 顔文字, kaomoji; literally, "face letters"), which can be understood without turning one's head to the left. These styles of faces roughly resemble the style commonly found in Japanese anime and manga comic books.
The Japanese language is usually encoded using double-byte character codes. As a result there is a bigger variety of characters that can be used in emoticons, many of which cannot be reproduced in ASCII. Most kaomoji contain Cyrillic and other foreign letters to create even more complicated expressions analogous to ASCII art's level of complexity. Such expressions are known as Shift_JIS art.
English anime forums use a form of kaomoji adapted for single-byte encoding. These are usually in the format of *_*, where the asterisks indicate the eyes, and the central character, usually an underscore, is the mouth. When a period is used for the mouth, it is often meant to make the person look cuter, especially for women. Alternatively, the mouth can be left out entirely. A quote mark '" or semicolon ; can be appended to the emoticon to imply apprehension, or embarrassment, à la the anime sweat-drop.
Note that for most of these, it is possible to use a period for a mouth (^.^), leave out the mouth entirely (^^), leave out the parentheses ^_^, or combinations.
One new patriotic variant is the text flag. These are usually represented inside a pair of close brackets symbols, to indicate a flag flying in the breeze ) ) Some examples of text flags;
Tricolors are obviously a problem, so alternatives are used, such as )(7 ), meant to represent the Irish harp.
Graphical emoticons (small images that often automatically replaced typed text) commonly are used instead of the older text variants, especially on Internet forums and instant messenger programs.
Look up ]] in Wiktionary, the free dictionary
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This site was last updated 12/15/06