Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

One often wants to convey a kind of mood when writing a comment to another person, especially if what we're saying is ambiguous or can be taken offensively. So, one adds a smiley or an emoticon. Is there a technical term for what they add or impart to the English language?

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Well, if you want a technical term, it's the limited bandwidth of text. (For certain values of "technical"...) It's frequently claimed that in-person vocal communication is something like 60% body language and 30% tone of voice; in text communication we get neither, implying that we're making do with 10% of the normal bandwidth, or range of expression. This makes many things that would be clear in in-person vocal communication ambiguous in text, so we invent things like emoticons to try to compensate.

I also occasionally refer to the emotive flatness of text.

share|improve this answer
1  
Nice. I would add that unadorned text is a "narrow channel". –  dmckee Mar 3 '11 at 22:39
add comment

There may well be a better term for it, but at first blush I would say this is adding non-verbal cues to our written interactions.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.