The study of emoji linguistic behaviour: an examination of the theses raised (and not raised) in the academic literature
Main Article Content
This bibliographic review of academic research on emoji reveals how the bulk of studies accepts it as a language but do not develop detailed linguistic analysis that could support this claim: they accept the clues provided by the initial studies, as if the scientific community had already reached such a consensus. However, the truth is that the fields in which emoji have generated the greatest academic interest (computer science, psychology and cognitive science) have considered the study of their linguistic nature a minor issue. Therefore, research on emoji has been growing over the years, widening the scope of its contributions, but with a common core made up of few basic notions about its linguistic condition that has important blind spots, in which Linguistics hasn’t done (generally) its work to place it in this new context for communication that the digital environments represent, despite the supports provided by multimodality and visual language theory. From these two disciplines, some authors have boldly suggested the emoji’s status as a gesture. However, to analyse its linguistic nature and behaviour, it is more accurate to understand the emoji, not as a gesture, but as a simplified representation of a gesture, without the unique features that a personal gesture has. The emoji seems to be the tool that, with fewer resources, best ensures that the interlocutor can understand the intentionality with which the sender has written the message.
Al-Azani, S. & El-Alfy, E. (2018). Emoji-Based Sentiment Analysis of Arabic Microblogs Using Machine Learning. 21st Saudi Computer Society National Computer Conference, NCC 2018. https://www.doi.org/10.1109/NCG.2018.8592970
Arafah, B. & Hasyim, M. (2019). Linguistic functions of emoji in social media communication. Opción, 35 (Special Edition 24), 558-574.
Ares G., Vidal, L. & Jaeger, S. R. (2021). How do consumers use emoji in a food-related context? Insights for the design and interpretation of emoji questionnaires. Journal of Sensory Studies, 36(4). https://www.doi.org/10.1111/joss.12663
Bai, Q., Dan, Q., Mu, Z. & Yang, M. (2019). A Systematic Review of Emoji: Current Research and Future Perspectives. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, art. 2221. https://www.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02221
Barbieri, F., Kruszewski, G. & Ronzano, F. (2016). How Cosmopolitan Are Emojis? Exploring Emojis Usage and Meaning over Different Languages with Distributional Semantics. MM 2016 - Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Multimedia Conference. https://www.doi.org/10.1145/2964284.2967
Cantamutto, L. & Vela Delfa, C. (2019). Interpretación de emojis en interacciones digitales en Español. Lenguas Modernas, 54, 29-47.
Casañ Pitarch, R. (2020), Los políticos españoles en Twitter: un análisis lingüístico de su discurso escrito. Ibérica, 40, 195-216.
Cohn, N. (2018). Visual Language Theory and the Scientific Study of Comics. In J. Wildfeuer, A. Dunst & J. Laubrock, Empirical Comics Research: Digital, Multimodal and Cognitive Methods (pp. 305-328). London: Routledge.
Cohn, N., Engelen, J. & Schilperoord, J. (2019). The grammar of emoji? Constraints on communicative pictorial sequencing. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 4, 33. https://www.doi.org/10.1186/s41235-019-0177-0
Cohn, N. & Schilperoord, J. (2022). Remarks on Multimodality: Grammatical Interactions in the Parallel Architecture. Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence, 4, art. 778060. https://www.doi.org/10.3389/frai.2021.778060
Danesi, M. (2016). The Semiotics of Emoji: The Rise of Visual Language in the Age of the Internet. London: Bloomsbury.
Danesi, M. (2019). Emojis: Langue or Parole. Chinese Semiotic Studies, 15(2), 243-258. https://www.doi.org/10.1515/css-2019-0015
Duarte, L., Macedo, L. & Gonçalo Oliveira, H. (2019). Exploring Emojis for Emotion Recognition in Portuguese Text. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), 11805 LNAI, 719-730. https://www.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30244-3_59
Evans, V. (2017). The Emoji Code: How Smiley Faces, Love Hearts and Thumbs Up are Changing the Way We Communicate. London: Michael O’Mara Books.
Ge, J. & Gretzel, U. (2018). Emoji rhetoric: a social media influencer perspective. Journal of Marketing Management, 34(15-16), 1272-1295. https://www.doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2018.1483960
Gn, J. (2018). Emoji as a ‘language’ of cuteness. First Monday, 23(9). https://www.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v23i9.9396
Grosz, P., Kaiser, E. & Pierini, F. (2021). Discourse anaphoricity and first-person indexicality in emoji resolution. In P. G. Grosz, L. Martí, H. Pearson, Y. Sudo & S. Zobel (Eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung, 25, 720-732. London: University College London and Queen Mary University of London. https://www.doi.org/10.18148/sub/2021.v25i0.941
Jackendoff, R. & Wittenberg, E. (2014). What you can say without syntax: a hierarchy of grammatical complexity. In F. Newmeyer & L. Preston (Eds.), Measuring Grammatical Complexity (pp. 65-82). Oxford Scholarship Online. https://www.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199685301.001.0001
Kavanagh, B. (2010). A cross-cultural analysis of Japanese and English nonverbal online communication: The use of emoticons in weblogs. Intercultural Communication Studies, 3, 65-80.
Katz, A. W. K., Mansoor, L. E., Tsidya, M., Mathebula, F., Singh, D., Siva, S., Akello, C., Chitowa, T. H., García, M., Soto-Torres, L. & Montgomery, E. T. (2021). Using Emoji Stickers to Understand End-User Opinions of the Dapivirine Vaginal Ring for HIV Prevention. AIDS and Behavior, 25(12), 3955-3966. https://www.doi.org/10.1007/s10461-021-03338-1
Khalifa, Y. & Elnagar, A. (2021). Sentiment Analysis of Colloquial Arabic Tweets with Emojis. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, 1339, 418-430. https://www.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-69717-4_40
Kootbodien, A., Prasad, N. V. & Ali, M. S. B. S. (2018). Trends and impact of WhatsApp as a mode of communication among Abu Dhabi students. Media Watch, 9(2), 257-266. https://www.doi.org/10.15655/mw/2018/v9i2/49380
Kress, G. & van Leeuwen, L. (2001). Multimodal discourse. The modes and media of contemporary communication. London: Arnold.
Lemke, J. (1998). Resources for attitudinal meaning: Evaluative orientations in text semantics. Functions of Language, 5(1), 33-56. https://www.doi.org/10.1075/fol.5.1.03lem
Li, L. & Yang, Y. (2018). Pragmatic functions of emoji in internet-based communication ⎼a corpus-based study. Asian-Pacific Journal of Second and Foreign Language Education, 3(1), 129-150. https://www.doi.org/10.17265/1539-8072/2021.08.001
Luor, T., Wu, L.-L., Lu, H.-P. & Tao, Y.-H. (2010). The effect of emoticons in simplex and complex task-oriented communication: An empirical study of instant messaging. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(5), 889-895. https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.02.003
McCulloch, G. & Gawne, L. (2018). Emoji Grammar as Beat Gestures. CEUR Workshop Proceedings 2130. https://www.doi.org/10.1023/b:nala.0000015789.98638.f9
Menglan, Q., Yuhui, F. & Haiyang, Y. (2017). Sentence structure study of Emoji communication. Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Business Corporation and Development in South-East and South Asia Under B&R Initiative (Isbcd 2017), 42, 83-86. https://www.doi.org/10.2991/isbcd-17.2017.17
Pierini, F. (2021). Emojis and gestures: a new typology. In P. G. Grosz, L. Martí, H. Pearson, Y. Sudo & S. Zobel, Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung, 25, 720-732. London: University College London and Queen Mary University of London. https://www.doi.org/10.18148/sub/2021.v25i0.963
Provine, R., Spencer, R. & Mandell, D. (2007). Emotional Expression Online: Emoticons Punctuate Website Text Messages. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 26(3), 299-307. https://www.doi.org/10.1177/0261927X06303481
Sampietro, A. (2016). Exploring the Punctuating Effect of Emoji in Spanish Whatsapp Chats. Lenguas Modernas, 47, 91-113.
Santhanam, S., Srinivasan, V., Mahajan, K. & Shaikh, S. (2021). Towards Understanding How Emojis Express Solidarity in Crisis Events. Lecture Notes in Networks and Systems, 271, 133-140. https://www.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-80624-8_17
Schouteten, J. J. & Meiselman, H. L. (2021). The potential of using emoji instead of words when measuring emotions associated with food. Food Quality and Preference, 92. https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2021.104182
Seargeant, P. (2019). The Emoji Revolution: How Technology is Shaping the Future of Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shoeb, A. & de Melo, G. (2021). Assessing Emoji Use in Modern Text Processing Tools. 59th annual meeting of the association for computational linguistics and the 11th international joint conference on natural language processing, 1, 1379-1388. https://www.doi.org/10.18653/v1/2021.acl-long.110
Sick, J., Monteleone, E., Pierguidi, L., Ares, G. & Spinelli, S. (2020). The Meaning of Emoji to Describe Food Experiences in Pre-Adolescents. Foods, 9(9), 1-20. https://www.doi.org/10.3390/foods9091307
Sun, Y. (2019). Changes from the Internet Language to Emoji. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Education, Language, Art and Inter-Cultural Communication, 378, 508-511. https://www.doi.org/10.2991/assehr.k.191217.181
Swartz, M. & Crooks, A. (2020). Comparison of Emoji Use in Names, Profiles, and Tweets. Proceedings - 14th IEEE International Conference on Semantic Computing, ICSC 2020, 375-380. https://www.doi.org/10.1109/ICSC.2020.00075
Tang, Y. & Hew, K. (2019). Emoticon, Emoji, and Sticker Use in Computer-Mediated Communication: A Review of Theories and Research Findings. International Journal of Communication, 13, 2457-2483.
Vatian, A., Shapovalova, A., Dobrenko, N., Vedernikov, N., Nigmatullin, N., Vasilev, A., Stankevich, A. & Gusarova, N. (2018). The Influence of Emoji on the Internet Text Perception. Communications in Computer and Information Science, 859, 55-66. https://www.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-02846-6_5
Wagner, A., Marusek, S. & Yu, W. (2020). Sarcasm, the smiling poop, and E-discourse aggressiveness: getting far too emotional with emojis. Social Semiotics, 30(3), 305-311. https://www.doi.org/10.1080/10350330.2020.1731151
Wahyuni, R. & Budi, I. (2018). Combining Linguistic, Semantic and Lexicon Feature for Emoji Classification in Twitter Dataset. Procedia Computer Science, 135, 194-201. https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2018.08.166
Weissman, B. & Tanner, D. (2018). A strong wink between verbal and emoji-based irony: How the brain processes ironic emojis during language comprehension. PLOS ONE, 13(8), 1-26. https://www.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0201727
Yus, F. (2014). Not all emoticons are created equal. Linguagem em (Dis)curso, 14(3), 511-529. https://www.doi.org/10.1590/1982-4017-140304-0414
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
By submitting the article for evaluation and subsequent publication in Communication & Society, the AUTHOR exclusively assigns the rights of public communication, reproduction, distribution and sale for commercial exploitation to the University of Navarra through its Publications Service, for the maximum legal term in force -the entire life of the author and seventy years after his death or declaration of death-, in any country, and in any of the current and future edition modalities, both in print and electronic versions.
In the event that the article is not accepted for publication , this transfer of rights lapses with the communication of the refusal to the AUTHOR.
The AUTHOR affirms that the article is unpublished, that it has not been sent simultaneously to another publication medium and that the rights have not been transferred exclusively previously. He is responsible to the University of Navarra through its Publications Service for the authorship and originality of his work, as well as for all pecuniary charges that may arise for the University of Navarra through its Publications Service, in favor of third parties due to actions, claims or conflicts arising from the breach of obligations by the AUTHOR.