Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton May 11, 2019

Emojis: Langue or Parole?

  • Marcel Danesi

    Marcel Danesi (b. 1946) is Full Professor of Linguistic Anthropology and Semiotics at the University of Toronto. His research interests span areas from semiotic theory and pop culture analysis to metaphorical analysis and mathematical representation. Recent publications include: Marshall McLuhan: The unwitting semiotician (2018), Ahmes’ legacy: Puzzles and the mathematical mind (2018), An anthropology of puzzles: The role of puzzles in the origins and evolution of mind and culture (2018), and Memes and the future of pop culture (2019).

    EMAIL logo
From the journal Chinese Semiotic Studies

Abstract

The phenomenon of emojis has had many implications for the future course of writing, literacy, communications, and the nature of representation itself. This paper looks at the implications of emoji use through the filter of Saussurean semiotics and through the lens of theories of visuality, which claim that visual writing is having radical effects on literacy and cognition. The historical background to the rise of visual writing is used as a backdrop to the semiotic analysis of the emoji phenomenon. The way we read and write messages today with visual elements such as emoji may indicate a radical shift away from a linear mode of processing information, as imprinted in alphabetic forms of writing, toward a more holistic and imaginative mode. However, because emoji usage and creativity depend on specific technologies, it remains to be seen if such writing can survive as technologies change. The main argument in this paper is that emojis are more part of parole than they are a separate langue, but they nonetheless reveal changes that the latter is undergoing in an age of digital multimodal communication.

About the author

Marcel Danesi

Marcel Danesi (b. 1946) is Full Professor of Linguistic Anthropology and Semiotics at the University of Toronto. His research interests span areas from semiotic theory and pop culture analysis to metaphorical analysis and mathematical representation. Recent publications include: Marshall McLuhan: The unwitting semiotician (2018), Ahmes’ legacy: Puzzles and the mathematical mind (2018), An anthropology of puzzles: The role of puzzles in the origins and evolution of mind and culture (2018), and Memes and the future of pop culture (2019).

References

Alshenqeeti, Hamza. 2016. Are emojis creating a new or old visual language for new generations? A socio-semiotic study. Advances in Language and Literary Studies 7. 56–69.10.31219/osf.io/4hdgsSearch in Google Scholar

Arnheim, Rudoph. 1969. Visual thinking Berkeley: University of California Press.Search in Google Scholar

Balasuriya, Lakshika, Dere Doran, Amit Sheth & Sanjaya Wijeratne. 2016. EmojiNet: A machine-readable emoji sense inventory. PubMed 10. 527–541.10.1007/978-3-319-47880-7_33Search in Google Scholar

Barbieri, Francesco, German Kruszewski, Franceco Ronzano & Horacio Saggion. 2016. How cosmopolitan are Emojis?: Exploring emojis usage and meaning over different languages with distributional semantics. Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Multimedia Conference MM 2016. 531–535.10.1145/2964284.2967278Search in Google Scholar

Barthes, Roland. 1977. Image, music, text. Trans. S. Heath. New York: Hill & Wang.Search in Google Scholar

Benenson, Fred. 2015. How to speak emoji London: Ebury Press.Search in Google Scholar

Boas, Franz. 1940. Race, language, and culture. New York: Free Press.Search in Google Scholar

Bouissac, Paul. 2010. Saussure: A guide for the perplexed London: Bloomsbury.Search in Google Scholar

Chen, Zhenpeng, Xuan Lu, Wei Ai, Huoran Li, Qiaozhu Mei & Xuanzhe Liu. 2018. Through a gender lens: Learning usage patterns of emojis from large-scale android users. WWW 2018, April 23–27, 2018, Lyon, France.10.1145/3178876.3186157Search in Google Scholar

Chomsky, Noam. 1957. Syntactic structures. The Hague: Mouton.10.1515/9783112316009Search in Google Scholar

Chomsky, Noam. 2002. On nature and language Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511613876Search in Google Scholar

Danesi, Marcel. 2016. The semiotics of emoji: The rise of visual language in the age of the Internet. London: Bloomsbury.Search in Google Scholar

Evans, Vyvyan. 2017. The emoji code: The linguistics behind smiley faces and scaredy cats. New York: Picador.Search in Google Scholar

Glikson, Ella, Arik Cheshin & Gerben A. van Kleef. 2018. The dark side of a smiley: Effects of smiling emoticons on virtual first impressions. Social Psychological and Personality Science 9. 614–625.10.1177/1948550617720269Search in Google Scholar

Halliday, Michael A. K. 1975. Learning how to mean: Explorations in the development of language. London: Arnold.10.1016/B978-0-12-443701-2.50025-1Search in Google Scholar

Harris, Roy. 2001. Saussure and his interpreters Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.10.3366/edinburgh/9780748613083.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Hymes, Dell. 1971. On communicative competence Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Search in Google Scholar

Jakobson, Roman. 1960. Linguistics and poetics. In Thomas A. Sebeok (ed.), Style and language 34–45. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Jappy, Tony. 2013. Introduction to Peircean visual semiotics London: Bloomsbury.Search in Google Scholar

Joseph, John E. 2012. Saussure Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Kaye, Linda K., Stephanie A. Malone & Helen J. Wall. 2016. Emojis: Insights, affordances, and possibilities for psychological science. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 21. DOI:10.1016/j.tics.2016.10.007 (accessed 21 September 2018).10.1016/j.tics.2016.10.007Search in Google Scholar

Krampen, Martin. 1971. Children’s drawings: Iconic coding of the environment New York: Plenum.Search in Google Scholar

Labov, William. 1973. The boundaries of words and their meanings. In Charles Bailey & Roger Shuy (eds.), New ways of analyzing variation in English 340–373. Washington: Georgetown University Press,Search in Google Scholar

Lakoff, George. 1987. Women, fire, and dangerous things: What categories reveal about the mind Chicago: University of Chicago Press.10.7208/chicago/9780226471013.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Leung, Chi-Hong & Winslet Chan. 2017. Using emoji effectively in marketing: An empirical study. Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing 5. 76–95.Search in Google Scholar

Lu, Xuan We Ai, Xuanzhe Liu, Qian, Li, Ning Wang, Gang, Huang & Qiaozhu Mei. 2016. Learning from the ubiquitous language: An empirical analysis of emoji usage of smartphone users. Proceedings of the 2016 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing UbiComp 2016, 770–780.10.1145/2971648.2971724Search in Google Scholar

Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1923. The problem of meaning in primitive languages. In Charles K. Ogden and Ivor A. Richards (eds.),The meaning of meaning 296–336. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World.Search in Google Scholar

Miller, Hannah, Jacob Thebault-Spieker, Shuo Chang, Isaac L. Johnson, Loren G.Terveen & Brent Hecht. 2016. Blissfully happy or ready to fight: Varying interpretations of emoji. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Web and Social Media, ICWSM 2016. 259–268.Search in Google Scholar

Moschini, Ilaria. 2016. The face with tears of joy emoji: A socio-semiotic and multimodal insight into a Japan-America mash-up. Hermes: Journal of Language and Communication in Business 55. 11–25.10.7146/hjlcb.v0i55.24286Search in Google Scholar

Olson, David. 1977. Media and symbols: The forms of expression, communication and education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press).Search in Google Scholar

Peirce, Charles S. 1931–1958. Collected papers Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Polak, Krzysztof 2015. When a product becomes a brand Marketing w Praktyce, February 2015. http://semiotyka.com/en/cultural-branding.htmlSearch in Google Scholar

Sanders, Carol. 2004. The Cambridge companion to Saussure Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CCOL052180051XSearch in Google Scholar

Sapir, Edward. 1921. Language New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World.Search in Google Scholar

Sapir, Edward & Morris Swadesh. 1946. American Indian grammatical categories. Word 2. 103–112.10.1080/00437956.1946.11659281Search in Google Scholar

Saussure, Ferdinand de. 1916. Cours de linguistique générale Paris: Payot.Search in Google Scholar

Schmandt-Besserat, Denise. 1978. The earliest precursor of writing. Scientific American 238. 50–59.10.1038/scientificamerican0678-50Search in Google Scholar

Schmandt-Besserat, Denise. 1989. Two precursors of writing: Plain and complex tokens. In Wayne M. Senner (ed.), The origins of writing, 27–40. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Search in Google Scholar

Schmandt-Besserat, Denise. 1992. Before writing 2 vols. Austin: University of Texas Press.Search in Google Scholar

Sebeok, Thomas A. & Jean Umiker-Sebeok (eds.). 1994. Advances in visual semiotics Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110874259Search in Google Scholar

Skaggs, Steven. 2017. Fire signs: A semiotic theory of graphic design Cambridge: MIT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Thibault, Paul J. 2013. Re-reading Saussure London: Routledge.10.4324/9780203443767Search in Google Scholar

Vidal, Leticia, Gastón Ares & Sara R. Jaeger. 2016. Use of emoticon and emoji in tweets for food-related emotional expression. Food Quality and Preference 49. 119–128.10.1016/j.foodqual.2015.12.002Search in Google Scholar

Weber, Samuel. 2017. The future of Saussure. Semiotica 217. 9–12.10.5749/j.ctv1n1bs8x.18Search in Google Scholar

Weissman, Benjamin & Darren Tanner 2018. A strong wink between verbal and emoji-based irony: How the brain processes ironic emojis during language comprehension. Plos Onehttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0201727 (accessed 15 September 2018).10.1371/journal.pone.0201727Search in Google Scholar

Yakin, Volkan & Oya Eru. 2017. An application to determine the efficacy of emoji use on social marketing ads. International Journal of Social Sciences and Education Research 3(1). 230–240.10.24289/ijsser.270652Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2019-05-11
Published in Print: 2019-05-30

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 23.2.2024 from https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/css-2019-0015/html
Scroll to top button