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What the %^&* ?

Ever not put an emoticon into a quick SMS, Twitter, IM or email? Ever gotten one that confused the punctuation out of you?

The first two emoticons were proposed by Dr Fahlman. He suggested using :-) to indicate jokes, and :-( to indicate serious matters. Of course, we didn’t listen, and we use the latter to show displeasure. (Which, really, is slightly different from seriousness). Now, imagine that Fahlman made a penny for each time we used one of these …

But of course, you have to be careful. Wikipedia reports this story:

It’s hard to know in advance what character strings will be parsed into what kind of unintended image. A colleague was discussing his 401(k) plan with his boss, who happens to be female, via instant messaging. He discovered, to his horror, that the boss’s instant-messaging client was rendering the “(k)” as a big pair of red smoochy lips.

I:), which is “hee-hee” to the uninitiated.

And if you are uninitiated, here is a quick reference to the more obscure emoticons:

;-) So happy, I’m crying
\~/ My glass is full
:-T Keeping a straight face
:^D “Great! I like it!”
:-o “Wow!”
^5 High five
:-C Really bummed
:[email protected] Screaming
:-& Tongue-tied
%-) Braindead
(:I Egghead
:-6 Exhausted; wipeout
:O Shocked
8-| Eyes wide with surprise
((((name)))) Hug
:-* Oops!
][ Feeling separate

and my favourite:

(_x_) Kiss my ass

You might have a Wikipedia entry if you are important, but if you are an icon you will have your own emoticon. Really. Say hello to Homer Simpson and Elvis. Try not to send your neck into a spasm when viewing these.

~(_8^(|) Homer Simpson
@@@@ :-) Marge Simpson
C|:-)= Charlie Chaplin
}:-> Devil
@:) Elvis
:-)B Dolly Parton
=|:-)= Abraham Lincoln
*-={:-)}}}> Santa Claus
~8-) Harry Potter
{:o)B->– Enjoy your weekend!


  • Eve Dmochowska spends her day playing on and with the Internet, and thinks it is a rather fun way to make money. She is the founder of Crowdfund, a crowd sourced fund to help local online startups get off the ground, and of the Geekspace, Joburgs first hot desking space for geeks. She is also the co-founder of The Broadband Bible which helps SAfricans find the perfect ADSL plan and the Airtime Bible, which compares the costs of cellphone contracts.

One Comment

  1. Bridget McNulty Bridget McNulty 9 September 2007

    Perhaps the next level of fame and acclaim will be having your own emoticon…. I should be so lucky.
    Unless the Emoticon Wizard has a strong opinion of you that may not be all that flattering, and you end up as a laughably ugly emoticon. Eeuch. One more thing to worry about.

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