Will Emoticons Ever Become Standard Punctuation?

I considered this for Great Debates, but meh, not earth-shaking enough.

Can you foresee a day when emoticons, either alphabetical as in “LOL” or the smiley face kind become part of grammar? Will the academic mavens and editors come to expect the emotional nuance emoticons express to color expressive writing in general?

I think, given enough time, plain words like we use now may be seen as inadequate, too bereft of color. At the very least, as unwelcome as passive voice is seen now. For example:

Passive voice: These shoes were bought by me.

Active voice: I bought these shoes.

Emoticon voice: I bought these shoes :D.

Emoticon voice: I bought these shoes :smack:.
See the difference portrayed by the emoticon? I just wonder if text by emoticon will become the standard of correct grammar in the future :confused:.

Here’s an exercise. Read this sentence out loud:

“You’re inviting me to attend your daughter’s piano rehearsal?”

Choose any word in that sentence to stress when you speak it, and it completely changes the circumstances of the conversation, on which you can construct a whole scenario. Even adding an emoticon would not add any clarity. It still requires the reader to know the stressed word.

We just have to deal with the fact that certain things have to be exlained elsewhere, not within the printed form of the sentence.


God, I hope not. I’m thinking of the example Dave Barry used in Dave Barry in Cyberspace, an emoticon version of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities:

(Picture of eye)
(Picture of reel)(picture of Confederate general)
(Picture of Kristian Alfonso)
(Picture of knot).

We have different registers in speech; there’s no reason we couldn’t have different registers in text, such that optional emoticon punctuation appears in casual, direct-communication text, but not in text written for publication.

Emoticons add a communication band to casual text interactions that would otherwise not be available. That can be useful. While the added band is not very nuanced, as jtur88 pointed out, it can sufficiently represent the tone of a communicated message as to avoid a complete misunderstanding. In a publication register, where the text is generally expected to be more carefully constructed and edited, this communication band is provided by context, word choice, and other construction elements. With more nuanced tools and the time to use them, emoticons would not be the optimal choice.

So, no, I wouldn’t expect a serious, formal Chicago Manual of Emoji. However, I would expect emoticons to continue to exist and evolve in the arena of personal textual communications. It’s possible that some standards of usage will arise in that area, and some descriptivist will record them, but I think it unlikely that the “rules” will remain stable for very long at a time.

No, because they’ve been replaced by Emoji. Will Emoji ever become standard? Maybe, but I doubt they would in their current form. They’d need to look understated to look formal.

Suh, Ah believe you have just insulted the enti-ah Lee Family. He was much mo-uh than mee-uh-ly “a Confed’rate Gen’ral”. :frowning: :frowning:

This could be taken to the extreme, using little iconic images for all the words in the language. They would then become stylized to have an understated and formal look.

It can be done, and it has been done! Witness: Classical written Chinese!

Now *there’s *progress for us! Full circle in only 5,000 years. But now in color.

No :frowning: