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This paper aims to discuss the image linguistic function in conversations on What Apps social media. This paper uses Barthes and Morris's semiotic approach. Data collection methods are the distribution of questionnaires online, and photo documentation (screenshot) of conversations using emojis on WA social media. The results of the study concluded that emojis are part of the grammatical elements of language in communicating on social media. In conclusion, semiotic, emoji is a sign vehicle, designatum, and interpretant relation that produces syntactic, semantic and paradigmatic emoji dimensions of signs as a linguistic function in social media communication. Funciones lingüísticas de emoji en la comunicación en redes sociales Resumen Este documento tiene como objetivo discutir la función lingüística de emoji en conversaciones en las redes sociales WhatApps. Este artículo utiliza el enfoque semiótico de Barthes y Morris. Los métodos de recolección de datos son la distribución de cuestionarios en línea y la documentación fotográfica (captura de pantalla) de las conversaciones usando emojis en las redes sociales de 559 Burhanuddin Arafah et al. Opción, Año 35, Regular No.24 (2019): 558-574 WA. Los resultados del estudio concluyeron que los emojis son parte de los elementos gramaticales del lenguaje en la comunicación en las redes sociales. En conclusión, semiótico, el emoji es un vehículo de signos, un diseño y una relación interpretativa que produce dimensiones emoji sintácticas, semánticas y paradigmáticas de los signos como una función lingüística en la comunicación de las redes sociales.
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Opción, Año 35, Regular No.24 (2019): 558-574
ISSN 1012-1587/ISSNe: 2477-9385
Recibido: 10-11-2018 Aceptado: 10-03-2019
Linguistic functions of emoji in social
media communication
Burhanuddin Arafah, Muhammad Hasyim
Hasanuddin University, Makassar, Indonesia
burhan-arafah@unhas.ac.id, hasyimfrance@unhas.ac.id
Abstract
This paper aims to discuss the emoji linguistic function in
conversations on WhatApps social media. This paper uses Barthes and
Morris's semiotic approach. Data collection methods are the
distribution of questionnaires online, and photo documentation
(screenshot) of conversations using emojis on WA social media. The
results of the study concluded that emojis are part of the grammatical
elements of language in communicating on social media. In
conclusion, semiotic, emoji is a sign vehicle, designatum, and
interpretant relation that produces syntactic, semantic and
paradigmatic emoji dimensions of signs as a linguistic function in
social media communication.
Keywords: Emoji, Sign, Syntax, Semantic, Paradigmatic
Funciones lingüísticas de emoji en la
comunicación en redes sociales
Resumen
Este documento tiene como objetivo discutir la función
lingüística de emoji en conversaciones en las redes sociales
WhatApps. Este artículo utiliza el enfoque semiótico de Barthes y
Morris. Los métodos de recolección de datos son la distribución de
cuestionarios en línea y la documentación fotográfica (captura de
pantalla) de las conversaciones usando emojis en las redes sociales de
559 Burhanuddin Arafah et al.
Opción, Año 35, Regular No.24 (2019): 558-574
WA. Los resultados del estudio concluyeron que los emojis son parte
de los elementos gramaticales del lenguaje en la comunicación en las
redes sociales. En conclusión, semiótico, el emoji es un vehículo de
signos, un diseño y una relación interpretativa que produce
dimensiones emoji sintácticas, semánticas y paradigmáticas de los
signos como una función lingüística en la comunicación de las redes
sociales.
Palabras clave: Emoji, Señal, Sintaxis, Semántica,
Paradigmática
1. INTRODUCTION
Data from the Association of Indonesian Internet Service Providers
(APJII) shows that 132.7 million Indonesians are internet users or more
than 50% of the total population of Indonesia, namely 256 million
Indonesians. Of these, 52% of internet users are male and 48% are female.
The interesting thing is the internet media content that is most
frequently visited. 83 million (63%) users use social media (Facebook,
Instagram, and WhatApps) in communication. The reason they use the
internet media is updating information (31 million people), 28 million
people looking for information about work, 18 million people
spending their free time, 14 million people socializing, 12 million
users looking for information about education, 12 million people are
looking for entertainment and 10 million users doing business and
searching for goods (HASYIM, 2018).
Advances in information technology in this era have changed
the way of thinking of the world community. The results of a survey
Linguistic functions of emoji in social media communication
560
conducted by HASYIM (2018), showed that to put their children to
sleep, mothers in the UK tell a story or fairy tale through tablet media.
To grow children's shariah to eat, mothers show stories of children's
animated videos that are being loved by children through Youtube
(HASYIM, 2018). According to FAN (2006), in the US about 40% of
children aged 3 months routinely watch TV, DVD, or video via the
internet, and at the age of 24 months, the figure increases to 90%.
DANESI (2017) said that language development in infants is lower
than babies who are always exposed to online media. Research
conducted by HASYIM (2018) in the US states that social robots
(human robots on line) have a positive impact on children's language
development.
Visual language has dominated the communication of internet
users on social media and the visual language that is widely used in
conveying messages is emojis. Various research results state that emoji
as a visual language is used to express something (feelings and
thoughts). According to MORRIS (1938), 49% of the text used in
social media is emojis, and emojis are a more practical visual language
used in conveying messages and expressing feelings and ideas. The
results of Jibril and DANESI’s research (2017) state that emojis are
used as non-verbal sign language, and face-to-face interactions, as well
as one's self-expression that is displayed through emoji language in
conversation texts.
Conversations on social media use verbal and non-verbal texts
(emojis) to express emotions and explain the sender's meaning.
However, the language phenomena found show that emojis not only
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function as a visual language in conveying emotions and thoughts but
have become part of the structure of the text. Conversational sentences
used in social media no longer pay attention to punctuation. However,
the sentences end with an emoji as a closing sentence. Punctuation as a
symbol to indicate the structure and organization of a writing, as well
as the intonation and pauses used by the sender, and punctuation marks
that help the receiver in reading messages through sentences, have
been combined with emojis. The phenomenon of conversational text
on social media, emojis, becomes part of the sentence structure.
From various research perspectives on emojis, which have been
explained at the beginning of this paper, this research focuses on
emojis from a linguistic perspective. Research questions that can be
asked are: how is the linguistic function of emojis (syntax, semantic
and pragmatic) in conversations between internet users (social media).
The object of this research focused on WhatsApp (WA) social media.
2. LITERATURE REVIEW
According to DANESI (2017) emoji is a term in Japanese,
which means picture and letter, which has the function of adding the
effectiveness of conversation messages and emphasizing meaning in
conversation. ASTEROFF (1987) provides a definition that emojis are
relational icons. DANESI (2017) defines emojis as a character that can
be searched on a computer that is used when communicating through a
computer. Another definition of emojis was put forward by DANET,
Linguistic functions of emoji in social media communication
562
RUEDENBERG-WRIGHT & ROSENBAUM-TAMARI (1997) that
emojis are an iconic form used to express emotions. Another opinion
expressed by REZABEK & COCHENOUR (1998) which states that
emojis are visual cues formed from typographic symbols that represent
feelings or emotions. Emojis are created as compensation for the
inability to deliver voice tones, facial expressions, or gestures or
gestures in written communication.
Charles William MORRIS (1938) introduced the semiotic
model known as the three interrelated triadic relations of semiosis,
namely syntax, semantics and pragmatics. These three triadic relations
of semiosis are formed on three correlations which Morris considers to
be a semiotic basis, consisting of a sign vehicle (S), designatum (D)
and interpretant (I). Ali gave an explanation of the concept of Morris
semiosis triadi relations (20098, namely that the sign vehicle is which
act as a sign means that deliver something into a sign, designatum is
which the sign refers to, the sign that refers to the object, and the
interpretant is that effect on some interpreters in virtue of which the
thing in question is a sign to that interpreter.
Figure 1: Morris’Triadic relation of semiosis
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Three correlations produce syntactic dimensions, the study of
the syntactical relations of signs to one another in abstraction from the
relations of signs to objects or to interpreters, (MORRIS, 1938); the
semantic dimension which studies the relation of signs to their
designate and so to the objects which they may or do denote; and the
pragmatic dimension which studies the relation of signs to their
interpreters.
According to Morris, there are three dimensions of semiotics
formed by triadic relationships, namely sign vehicle, designatum, and
interpretant. To understand the sign and its communicative nature, one
must analyze the sign by identifying its relationship with other signs,
with what is shown or can be shown, and to its interpreters. Therefore,
one can define the scope of each of the three dimensions of sign
(semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic). As Morris stated:
Pragmatics is that portion of semiotics which deals with the
origin, uses, and effects of signs within the behavior in which they
occur; semantics deals with the signification of signs in all modes of
signifying; syntactic deals with combinations of signs without regard
for their specific significations of their relation to the behavior in
which they occur (Morris, 1964: 10).
Referring to the above statement, Morris's semiotic concept
(sign) which is divided into three dimensions of sign is that the
semantic dimension is the study of the relationship of sign and object;
the syntactic dimension is the study of the relationship between signs
and other signs, and the pragmatic dimension is the study of the
relationship of signs and interpreters (sign users). This semiotic
Linguistic functions of emoji in social media communication
564
trichotomy provides a means to explore the meaning of signs,
structures between signs, and responses induced by signs, thus
contributing to a better understanding of signs as a means of
communication.
According to FAN (2006), syntax is the study of the relationship
of visual elements in one text with another text, whether the text is
visual as a whole, or the entire contents of documents, computer screen
displays, or control panels; semantics is the study of the relationship of
visual representations with references, including objects, concepts, and
ideas, and pragmatics are studies of the relationship between visual
representations and conditions of production and their use, including
audience characteristics, goals, and tasks. Each of the three dimensions
of semiotics has its own or specific semiotic aspects of the study.
3. METHODOLOGY
The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of emojis
from the langue (linguistic) and parole aspects. Researchers observed
linguistic functions consisting of syntax, semantics, and pragmatics in
emoji communication on WA visual media. This study used a semiotic
analysis, using the Barthes’ theory of langue and parole. The data
source in this study was the results of a questionnaire distributed
online on WA social media. Respondents answered twenty questions
asked online (KURIANWAN, 2018).
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There were 150 data collected. Characteristics of respondents
were the number of respondents according to gender, with 64.2% of
females and 35.8% of males. The number of respondents by age was
61% with ages between 19 and 20 years. Based on the type of work,
more than 50% were students and employees. The most widely used
social media in communication was WA reaching 94%. The behavior
of respondents based on the effectiveness of social media used in
delivering messages (SMS) was WA, with a percentage of 95.5%. The
behavior of respondents based on images or icons that most widely and
effectively used in communicating on WhatsApps was emoji, with a
total of 91%. Furthermore, the most widely used form of emoji by
respondents in communication was facial expressions, reaching 89%.
4. RESULT AND DISCUSSION
Emojis in WA are separate languages (langue) that already have
social rules divided into categories, namely smileys and people (facial
expressions), animals and nature, food and drink, activities, travel and
places, objects, symbols, and flags. WA has provided emojis (langue)
rules that will be used by internet users when they have a conversation
in the WA text column. The parole level is about how individual
internet users use emoji forms to express feelings, emotions, and
thoughts. Based on the results of data analysis, the most frequently
used emojis in Indonesia in both WA groups and individuals are
smiley and people type emojis, , with the percentage of 80,6%.
Linguistic functions of emoji in social media communication
566
Figure 2: emoji form used by WA users
These data show that internet users can express their emotions
and feelings individually by using emojis (smileys and people) which
can provide an overview of moods and feelings for users in
conversations in WA. This form of emoji communication also shows
an open attitude (in public spaces) for users in expressing feelings and
emotions.
The purpose of using smiley and people type emojis is to
convey thoughts or ideas (23%), express feelings (86.6%), prefer to
use emoji language rather than verbal language (13.4%), and prefer to
combine verbal text and emoji language (69.4%). The data show that
in making conversations in WA through groups or individuals, emojis
are used more to convey feelings and emotions. The most widely used
form of emoji is facial expressions.
One example is the conversation (figure 2) in the WA group of
the French-Indonesian teaching association. The sender gave a
birthday wish to the two members of the group, which ended with a
face emoji as a relationship with the receiver. Sending birthday wishes
using only verbal language cannot represent the sender's feelings, so
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the sender uses the emoji visual language to show feelings of
expression to his friend as the receiver.
Figure 3: Expressions of feelings and emotions using the language of
Emoji
Conversations between users in WA messages indicate that
emojis are sentence elements. Thus, the sentence in a conversation
consists of verbal and nonverbal language (emojis). Sentence sent via
SMS shows that respondents use a combination of verbal language and
emoji language. This can be seen in the arrangement of sentences,
where emojis are placed at the beginning and end of sentences. Based
on the data, as many as 76% of respondents use emojis at the end of
the sentence. This means the emoji function is closing in sentences.
Emoji functions as punctuation instead of period punctuation. The
results of research on the position of emojis in sentences show that
76.9% emojis are placed at the end of a sentence and function as a
Linguistic functions of emoji in social media communication
568
closing conversation, 14% are in the middle of a sentence and 9% are
at the beginning of a sentence. One example of using emoji at the end
of the sentence is in figure 4 below.
Figure 4: Emoji placement in sentences
Emojis that are elements of sentences can be illustrated in the
example conversation above and in conducting their conversations that
combine verbal text (sentences) and emojis. The sender in the
conversation message in WA composes sentences with a combination
of verbal text and emojis in conveying ideas and expressing feelings.
Likewise, the receiver of the message answers the message with a
combination of verbal text and emojis. Messages sent with a
combination of verbal text and emojis are answered with verbal text
and emojis.
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Opción, Año 35, Regular No.24 (2019): 558-574
Based on the results of research, the most popular type of emoji
or widely used is smiley and people type emojis. Furthermore, among
the many types of emoji smileys and people, the most widely used
expressions of feelings and emotions are grinning faces, face blowing
a kiss and loudly crying faces emojis.
Table 1: Choice of emoji types
Emojis
Semantics
Grinning Face:
A yellow face with simple, open eyes and a broad, open
smile, showing upper teeth and tongue on some platforms.
Often conveys general pleasure and good cheer or humor.
(https://emojipedia.org/grinning-face/)
Face Blowing a Kiss:
A yellow face winking with puckered lips blowing a kiss,
depicted as a small, red heart. May represent a kiss goodbye
or good night and convey feelings of love and affection more
generally.
https://emojipedia.org/face-throwing-a-kiss/)
Loudly Crying Face:
A yellow face with an open mouth wailing and streams of
heavy tears flowing from closed eyes. May convey
inconsolable grief but also other intense feelings, such as
uncontrollable laughter or overwhelming joy.
(https://emojipedia.org/loudly-crying-face/)
Linguistic functions of emoji in social media communication
570
The character of the conversation performer can be known
through the smileys and people type emojis used. Emoji's
communication used describes his identity. The grinning face emoji
facial expression shows the meaning of fun and excitement, so WA
users can use the emoji to express feelings.
Figure 5: use of emojis in sentences
Emoji pragmatics shows the interaction of conversations
(speech acts) between the sender (speaker) and receiver (interlocutor).
The pragmatic function of emojis shows the emotional connection
involved in the conversation in WA. Emojis function as a medium for
delivering messages personally and in general and shows
communication between personas, a relaxed or official atmosphere,
social relations, and hierarchical relationships between personas, for
example communication between directors and employees, teachers
and students, and parents and children
.
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Opción, Año 35, Regular No.24 (2019): 558-574
Figure 6: The emoji pragmatics in sentences
One example is the conversation in the WA group of French
teaching associations throughout Indonesia in figure 6. One member of
the association is having a birthday, and another WA member
congratulates. The pragmatic functions of the emojis in the
conversation show the relationship of fellow members and the
relationship of intimacy through the use of emojis. The birthday
greeting ends with an emoji that has a pragmatic function of the close
and emotional relationships between members of the association.
5. CONCLUSION
Emoji is a language system in social media that has linguistic
functions (syntactic, semantic and pragmatic). The syntax function is
an emoji being a part or sentence forming element, which can have a
position at the beginning of a sentence, in the middle, and the end of a
Linguistic functions of emoji in social media communication
572
sentence. However, the most dominant syntactic function is as a
closing sentence. The semantic function is that emojis express
connotation meanings in conversation. Expressions of users' feelings
and emotions are not enough just to be conveyed using verbal
language but by using the visual language of emojis. The function of
emoji pragmatics is to show how the relationship between persona
(users) in communication. The function of emoji pragmatics also
shows that there is an equal relationship in a WA group wherein the
position between members there are members who have higher or
lower positions. Emoji pragmatics represents communication between
fellow members in WA communication that does not show differences
in social status or social hierarchy. The pragmatic functions of emojis
strengthen the meaning and social relations between users in
communication.
In semiotic terms, emojis are vehicle signs that can convey the
meaning of signs in the syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic dimensions.
Emojis in the syntactic dimension are visual signs that have a
relationship with verbal signs in conversation text (sentences) so as to
produce meaning. Emoji in semantics is the sign relationship with an
object as a sign that is referred to. For example, happy face expression
emojis refer to the intent of the message conveyed by the sender.
Emojis in pragmatic are emojis signs interpreted by interpreters as
receivers of messages based on the context of the conversation.
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In this article, the author demonstrates that the semiotic model proposed by Charles Morris enables us to optimize our understanding of technical communication practices and provides a good point of inquiry. To illustrate this point, the author exemplifies the semiotic approaches by scholars in technical communication and elaborates Morris's model through analyzing visual and verbal elements of technical communication brochures from semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic levels. The discussion of semiotic approach reinforced by various examples illustrates that the semiotic model can be a tangible theoretical and practical tool to help students and practitioners study and analyze the use of visual and verbal elements in technical communication.
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Increased usage of e-mail brings a variety of communication patterns. One way of clarifying verbal meaning within e-mail messages is through the use of visual symbols, or emoticons. Emoticons are visual cues formed from ordinary typographical symbols that when read sideways represent feelings or emotions. This paper reports results of a study about emoticons that appear in list e-mail traffic in higher education.
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Digital writing is strikingly playful. This playfulness flourishes particularly in synchronous chat modes on the Internet. This paper is a study of writing, play and performance on IRC (Internet Relay Chat). We analyze a "virtual party" on IRC, whose highlight was a typed simulation of smoking marihuana. Three interrelated, yet analytically distinct types of play are discussed: 1) play with identity; 2) play with frames of interaction; and 3) play with typographic symbols. We adopt a qualitative, textual, and micro-sociolinguistic approach, drawing on work in discourse analysis, the study of orality and literacy, and the anthropology of play and performance. In all play there is reduced accountability for action. In the material world, masks and costumes at carnival time liberate participants; here, the ephemeral, non-material medium, the typed text, and the use of nicknames provide the mask. Although the improvisation analyzed here is typed and occurs between geographically dispersed strangers, it has fascinating affinities with "live" interactional forms such as jazz, charades, and carnivals.
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Dissertation (D.Ed.)--Teachers College, Columbia University, 1987.
The Semiotics of Emoji: The Rise of Visual Language in the age of the Internet
  • M Danesi
DANESI, M. (2017). "The Semiotics of Emoji: The Rise of Visual Language in the age of the Internet". London: Bloomsbury Publishing, Plc. UK.
Bahasa Zaman Now, Tantangan dan Peluang
  • E Kurianwan
KURIANWAN, E. (2018). "Bahasa Zaman Now, Tantangan dan Peluang". Prosiding Seminar Setali. Bandung : Sekolah Pascasarjana Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia. Indonesia.