A semantics of face emoji in discourse
Patrick Georg Grosz, Gabriel Greenberg, Christian De Leon, Elsi Kaiser
December 2021

This paper presents an analysis of face emoji (disc-shaped pictograms with stylized facial expressions) that accompany written text. We propose that there is a use of face emoji in which they comment on a target proposition expressed by the accompanying text, as opposed to making an independent contribution to discourse. Focusing on positively valenced and negatively valenced emoji (which we gloss as "happy" and "unhappy", respectively), we argue that the emoji comment on how the target proposition bears on a contextually provided discourse value endorsed by the author. Discourse values embody what an author desires, aspires to, wishes for, or hopes for. Our analysis derives a range of non-trivial generalizations, including (i) ordering restrictions with regards to the placement of emoji and text, (ii) cases of apparent mixed emotions, and (iii) cases where the lexical content of the accompanying text influences the acceptability of a face emoji.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005981
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: submitted for peer review
keywords: face emoji, semantics, pragmatics, affective language, emotion expression, expressives, digital communication, discourse values, multi-modal discourse, super linguistics, super semantics
previous versions: v1 [May 2021]
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