Emoticons and Illocutionary Force

Eli Dresner, Susan C. Herring

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The term “emoticons” short for “emotion icons” refers to graphic signs, such as the smiley face, that often accompany computer-mediated textual communication. They are most often characterized as iconic indicators of emotion, conveyed through a communication channel that is parallel to the linguistic one. In this chapter, it is argued that this conception of emoticons fails to account for some of their important uses. We present a brief outline of speech act theory and use it to provide a complementary account of emoticons, according to which they also function as indicators of illocutionary force. We conclude by considering how our analysis bears upon broader questions concerning language, bodily behavior, and text.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLogic, Argumentation and Reasoning
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameLogic, Argumentation and Reasoning
ISSN (Print)2214-9120
ISSN (Electronic)2214-9139


  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Emoticons
  • Illocutionary force
  • Pragmatics
  • Speech acts


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