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.

I know smileys are not part of written language (yet), and any questions about them are irrelevant to linguistics and are kind of not serious. So take my question with a smiley then.

It bugs me every time I'm facing this situation: if an insertion in parentheses ends with a smiley, what should I do?

  • A lot of insertions in parentheses (well, if it's not Lisp :) ) can be annoying.
  • A lot of insertions in parentheses (well, if it's not Lisp :)) can be annoying.
  • A lot of insertions in parentheses (well, if it's not Lisp :) can be annoying.

I don't like any of the above. Any (clever) suggestions?

share|improve this question
13  
I prefer to use a different smiley in parentheses (like this :P), or use a Japanese-style smiley ^_^. –  dbkk Nov 11 '10 at 5:45
8  
:)) looks like an emoticon with a double-chin. –  jcarmody Nov 11 '10 at 10:27
    
@dbkk, if you'd post that as an answer, I'd vote it up. :) –  Marthaª Nov 11 '10 at 14:59
1  
(This is how I like it :]) –  Kevin Nov 12 '10 at 9:08
1  
The backward-smiley-closing-bracket (:) –  rmx Feb 10 '11 at 16:00

14 Answers 14

up vote 33 down vote accepted

I couldn't resist but post this!

The IAU ban came after the 'redefinition of 'planet' to include the IAU president's mom' incident.

But seriously, I generally avoid ending a bracketed expression with an emoticon. One solution could however be to use square brackets:

A lot of insertions in parentheses [well, if it's not Lisp :)] can be annoying.

Though it's rather non-standard, it at least looks better. I'm sure almost any reader would understand it too.

share|improve this answer
2  
OK, the question is answered :) –  mojuba Nov 10 '10 at 21:58
1  
Heh, yeah! XKCD has an answer to anything. But really, it's a bit of a moot point. Personally i just avoid ending a bracketed expression with an emoticon! –  Noldorin Nov 10 '10 at 22:02
3  
Square brackets look a lot better indeed. People with math/CS background though usually take square brackets as an "optional" insertion, but I think it's still fine. –  mojuba Nov 10 '10 at 22:09
6  
I solve the "mismatched parenthesis" problem by using Japanese smileys. \(^_^)/ Likewise, I don't tilt my head 90° before smiling in real life. –  RegDwigнt Nov 11 '10 at 12:49
3  
Today's one is pretty good too: xkcd.com/859 –  Benjol Feb 11 '11 at 6:28

It’s the twenty-first century! We have a much better alternative to old ASCII emoticons: Unicode!

A lot of insertions in parentheses (well, if it's not Lisp ☺) can be annoying.

… well, ok, I admit that I do not always like this, either. ☹

share|improve this answer
3  
Come on, Unicode can do a lot more impressive ٩(•̮̮̃•̃)۶ –  Tobias Kienzler Oct 20 '12 at 12:39

Maybe these ones:

:-P)

:-{)

:-()

:-)-:

share|improve this answer
    
Nice kissing smileys/frownies –  Jared Updike Nov 11 '10 at 0:29
2  
you forgot C:, :D, and ^.^ among others....:) –  kitukwfyer Nov 11 '10 at 2:42

I'm sure there is not a defined standard as yet, however I find that putting a space between the smiley and the close parentheses makes it look less like a double parentheses mistake (though it can look jarring at the same time :) )

I would certainly, as a pedant, NOT drop the last parentheses (especially where I am not at the end of a sentence :) as it is ambiguous as to whether the parenthesed clause has completed yet, although I would readily admit a mid bracket smiley is particularly jarring and ugly).

share|improve this answer

I tend to leave a space on both sides, like this

A lot of insertions in parentheses ( well, if it's not Lisp :) ) can be annoying.

also, using dashes is worth trying

A lot of insertions in parentheses — well, if it's not Lisp :) — can be annoying.

share|improve this answer
    
After the recent work on PL/SQL, at first glance: He has left a comment at the end of the line :-) –  Nivas Feb 11 '11 at 3:43
    
I usually go for the square brackets myself, but a proper dash seems to work just as well. :) –  AnonJr Feb 11 '11 at 12:48
    
The emoticon is drooling. :) –  Neil Fein May 4 '11 at 4:28

There really isn't any way to make it not look weird (as famously documented by xkcd), but my preferred form, and I believe the more common practice, is to "merge" the smiley with the closing parenthesis. (So, like this. :)

share|improve this answer
2  
+1 for the XKCD link –  Arjun J Rao Feb 10 '11 at 3:06

There should not be any spaces after the smiley, in the same way there is no space between a word and a closing parenthesis.

In some messages sent through IM applications, a space is added after the smiley and before a parenthesis, as in some of these applications the textual smilies are replaced from a icon/image; in these applications, the double parentheses are used for a different smiley. This could explain why some people are used to add a space after a smiley, and before the following parenthesis.

share|improve this answer

In direct conflict with chaos, my preferred form, and I believe the more common practice, is to separate the smiley from the closing parenthesis by a single space. :-)

Normally a space should not be included between a parenthesis and the word it is adjacent to, but when using a parenthesis as part of a separate lexical element, spacing between the "word-element" parenthesis and the "syntax-element" parenthesis is very helpful to avoid confusion. Otherwise you might be sending a double-chin smiley and still have no closing parenthesis.

The best solution, of course, is to avoid such a potentially confusing issue in the first place: grow a goatee, so that all your smileys can be of the form ":-)>".

share|improve this answer

(what about this (: )

ok... not good enough...

share|improve this answer

I usually insert the extra space in between the smile and the closing parenthesis for a couple of reasons:

  • The extra space prevents unintended tokenizing of the second parenthesis. It bugs me when I write choose (A) or (B) and the text parser converts the capital B and the right parenthesis to a "cool shades emoticon".
  • It looks clearer to me. Without the extra space it just looks like my keyboard hiccuped on the right side.
share|improve this answer

I think James Joyce would go for a dash instead...

A lot of insertions in parentheses - well, if it's not Lisp :) - can be annoying.

share|improve this answer

I would suggest using a square bottomed smiley with a space after it.

A lot of insertions in parentheses (well, if it's not Lisp :] ) can be annoying.

share|improve this answer

Think about it this way, how would you do a frowny face?

  • A lot of insertions in parentheses (well, if it's not Lisp :( ) can be annoying.
  • A lot of insertions in parentheses (well, if it's not Lisp :() can be annoying.
  • A lot of insertions in parentheses (well, if it's not Lisp :( can be annoying.

I suggest none of them. Instead you could put the smiley/frowny outside the parenthesis:

  • A lot of insertions in parentheses (well, if it's not Lisp) :( can be annoying.
  • A lot of insertions in parentheses (well, if it's not Lisp) :) can be annoying.
share|improve this answer

protected by RegDwigнt May 15 '11 at 16:21

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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