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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



When the emoticon was created in 1980s, many commentators have even described this creation as futile effort for improving internet communication efficiency. Even in the famous “language and the internet” (Crystal, 2001), the finder of internet linguistic, David Crystal argues that emoticons at the time “are a potentially helpful but extremely crude way of capturing some of the basic features of facial expression, but their semantic role is limited.” Nevertheless, after two decades have passed, emoticon not only survived but turned into an irreplaceable linguistic aspect in the internet language. During its evolution process, emoticon was also transmuted into different forms for accommodating specialties in different language input systems. Among all sorts of emoticons which were evolved this way, Chinese emoticons represent many unique characterizations due to the hieroglyphic aspect of Chinese characters, special sound-meaning-form relationship and peculiar input method. This thesis will explore the background and linguistic functions of emoticons, investigate how those special characterizations distinguish Chinese emoticons from others; analyze how Chinese emoticons to fulfill those missing communication properties in Chinese internet language and syntax; discuss the linguistic effects of those Chinese characters which are picked as emoticon, such as the dual effect toward the meaning of character and real life oral communication; and summarizing Chinese emoticon as a linguistic defined subgroup of emoticon.


First Advisor

Zhongwei Shen

Second Advisor

Zhijun Wang

Third Advisor

Enhua Zhang