Emojis as Pictures
Emar Maier
January 2023

I argue that emojis are essentially little pictures, rather than words, gestures, expressives, or diagrams. 🎁 means that the world looks like that, from some viewpoint. I flesh out a pictorial semantics in terms of geometric projection with abstraction and stylization. Since such a semantics delivers only very minimal contents I add an account of pragmatic enrichment, driven by coherence and nonliteral interpretation. The apparent semantic distinction between emojis depicting entities (like 🚗) and those depicting facial expressions (like 😊) I analyze as a difference between truth-conditional and use-conditional pictorial content: 🚗 depicts what the world of evaluation looks like, while 😊 depicts what the utterance context looks like.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006025
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in Ergo
keywords: emojis, pictorial semantics, symbolic vs iconic, geometric projection, pragmatic enrichment, coherence, metaphor, expressives, facial expressions, use-conditional content, semantics, morphology
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