Vox pop – April 2010

Emoticons: a useful addition to the written language, or a threat to writing as we know it? :-0

Mike Reed

I started off hating emoticons. Idiotic things, I thought. People should take the trouble to write what they mean, so they didn’t have to use infantile pictures to make it clear. Now I’ve calmed down, and stopped being so uptight about it. I realised they’re quite a fun little addition to certain forms of correspondence – primarily social networking of course, and I’m an avid tweeter. There’s real delight in finding new expressions among the punctuation. And in the end, why the hell not? I’ve told myself to stop being such a grump and enjoy it. And I’d say the same to others who >:-( on the :0).

(Just wish I knew how to end a sentence with one. A full stop just looks like a mole – see above.)

Roger Horberry

We are not at home to Mr Emoticon.

Sarah McCartney

What is it about emails that makes them so very easy to misinterpret? They are written quickly, perhaps without the reader in mind. I find that as I generally speak and write in fluent irony, my emails are occasionally misunderstood. That which I believe to be humorous, some people perceive as frighteningly harsh. For very sensitive readers, relatives and foreign chappies, I sometimes find an emoticon useful, although I often prefer to write in full, “(That was a joke.)” Everything which aids communication is useful. If an emoticon can prevent an argument – or a flurry of explanatory emails – then it’s useful.

Jim Davies

Generally can’t stand the little buggers. But my natural tone can sometimes stray into sarcasm, so they can be useful in reassuring clients that I’m not taking the piss.

Nick Asbury

I’m not sure I’ve ever used an emoticon, except with deliberate heavy irony, but they seem to have earned their place in the language and you can only admire the creativity that goes into them. I discovered this one recently:

<*)))-{

which apparently denotes something fishy going on.

And John Lennon has his very own emoticon:

//O-O\

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