Thursday, August 24, 2006

kaomoji: japanese emoticons

In my online traversals, I recently stumbled upon a few japanee blogs, where I noticed the strangest thing... emoticons in many varieties, many of which I can't even decipher. It turns out that there are thousands of japanese emoticons, leading me to believe it is the richest linguistic sms out there. Even the mobiles (handys) come with many emoticons programmed in: flickr photos of japanese emoticons on a mobile. This is not surprising given that Japanese kids (so-called “oya yubi sedai” or “thumb race”) have led the SMS revolution.

This led me to scour the web in search of an emoti-lexicon:


This is by no means an exhaustive list. I'm sure you can churn up many more thru your own searches. Some of my favorites are:

uh-oh: (._.)
congrats: (^-^)b
what the?: (ò_ô)
shy: (*^_^*)
punch: (>_<)○------(^o^)○
fishing: (*^_^;)_o/━━━━━━>゚)))≫彡 ~ ~ ~
pinch: ( `´)===C<*_+ )ギュー

As you can see, they get rather complicated, blending in characters from multiple orthographies with symbolic representations of avatars. What I'm left to wonder is with so many complex emoticons, how often do they lead to miscommunications? Are there SMS dialects within the Japanese SMS/CMC community? Or do I just have my head too deeply into English?

i delved deep into MMO ethnography this summer (i.e. i played more video games than usual) and saw my share of kaomoji in action going on there, especially on the forums. within a week i went from :) to ^_^ and eventually to ^^. there is a *world* of difference in use, by the way, between ^_^ and ^^ in certain communities. well, maybe not a *world*, but it's *significant*.

i wikipedia'd kaomoji and some of those things have to be in-group specific to some extent - the same goes for 'western' emoticons, too, of course - though i wouldn't go so far as throw in dialect boundaries over them (though maybe? all i know about the thumb tribe is what i got from rheingold's _smart mobs_). nice flickr link, by the way. american phones don't have any of those emoticon lists standard, do they? do sidekicks or other txt-specific devices have anything similar?
prolly not. tho japanese sidekicks probably do.

Rheinhold's book is a fun read :) er... ^_^ or even ^o^

i'll have a look at the wikipedia entry... dunno why I didn't think of that... it's as if I have to remind myself of its existence every few weeks...
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