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.

According to Wikipedia, “[p]unctuation marks are symbols that indicate the structure and organization of written language, as well as intonation and pauses to be observed when reading aloud”.

Does this make emoticons – when used along with a sentence, e.g., “I am good :)” – eligible to be considered as punctuation marks? They seem to satisfy the “intonation” criterion.

share|improve this question
1  
Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/80928/… –  J.R. Sep 16 '12 at 18:00
2  
@user13107: I'm curious as to why you think that statement needs justifying? Have you seen evidence to the contrary?! –  w3d Sep 16 '12 at 18:46
1  
Apparently, there's as yet no canonical rule about emoticons. As no one seems to have officially declared them as marks of punctuation or members of the class, emoticons cannot presently be treated as punctuation marks. Even where they incidentally appear to serve to punctuate a sentence, maybe. The jury is still out on that one. –  Kris Sep 17 '12 at 7:35
1  
There's a very similar question on Japanese meta: Aren't kaomoji part of the Japanese language? –  hippietrail Mar 3 at 7:53
1  
There's also a similar question on Linguistics: Should emoticons be considered punctuation? –  hippietrail Mar 4 at 19:26

5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Apparently, there's as yet no canonical rule about emoticons.

As no one seems to have officially declared them as marks of punctuation or members of the class, emoticons cannot presently be treated as punctuation marks. Even where they incidentally appear to serve to punctuate a sentence, maybe.

The jury is still out on that one.


A brief mention of interest: Emoticons as Punctuation Marks

share|improve this answer
    
@mplungjan I'm able to access the page -- maybe you need Google log in to access, I'm not sure. Try books.google.co.in/… –  Kris Oct 13 '12 at 5:32
    
Now I could. I am normally always logged in to google :) –  mplungjan Oct 13 '12 at 5:33
    
Oh, great. Do let me know. –  Kris Oct 13 '12 at 5:35

Punctuation:

a mark, such as a full stop, comma, or question mark, used in writing to separate sentences and their elements and to clarify meaning.

Emoticon:

a representation of a facial expression such as a smile or frown, formed by various combinations of keyboard characters and used in electronic communications to convey the writer’s feelings or intended tone

So, no, emoticons are not punctuation, because they are not used "to separate sentences and their elements".

share|improve this answer
2  
Does this mean that those emoticons that are used to separate sentences, can be considered as punctuation marks? For example, a . (full stop) is a punctuation mark, only when it is preceded by a sentence. Why can't same rule be applied for emoticons? –  user13107 Sep 16 '12 at 19:03
    
Emoticons aren't used to separate sentences. If they, then this is the first I've heard of it. –  Matt Эллен Sep 16 '12 at 19:06
    
For example: I am glad you came :) But why are you so late? May be here again the reply might be that they are not used in formal writing. It'd be helpful if there exists an authority on formal writing which has said so and it has been documented. –  user13107 Sep 16 '12 at 19:09
1  
It could be evolving that way. It's certainly not how I use it. I put smileys apart from any punctuation, if I'm taking the time to punctuate correctly. In formal writing do not use emoticons. They are not formal. –  Matt Эллен Sep 16 '12 at 19:18

No, an emoticon is a symbol, not punctuation. Unicode clearly differentiates symbols such as math symbols and currency symbols, from punctuation, such as open or close punctuation.

For example, these are punctuation:

U+0002D ‭ -  GC=Pd HYPHEN-MINUS
U+0002E ‭ .  GC=Po FULL STOP
U+0002F ‭ /  GC=Po SOLIDUS
U+0003A ‭ :  GC=Po COLON
U+0003B ‭ ;  GC=Po SEMICOLON
U+0003F ‭ ?  GC=Po QUESTION MARK
U+0007B ‭ {  GC=Ps LEFT CURLY BRACKET
U+0007D ‭ }  GC=Pe RIGHT CURLY BRACKET
U+000A1 ‭ ¡  GC=Po INVERTED EXCLAMATION MARK
U+000AB ‭ «  GC=Pi LEFT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK
U+000B7 ‭ ·  GC=Po MIDDLE DOT
U+000BB ‭ »  GC=Pf RIGHT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK
U+000BF ‭ ¿  GC=Po INVERTED QUESTION MARK

whereas these are symbols:

U+000A2 ‭ ¢  GC=Sc CENT SIGN
U+000A3 ‭ £  GC=Sc POUND SIGN
U+000A4 ‭ ¤  GC=Sc CURRENCY SIGN
U+000A5 ‭ ¥  GC=Sc YEN SIGN
U+000A7 ‭ §  GC=So SECTION SIGN
U+0211E ‭ ℞  GC=So PRESCRIPTION TAKE
U+02122 ‭ ™  GC=So TRADE MARK SIGN
U+02260 ‭ ≠  GC=Sm NOT EQUAL TO
U+02261 ‭ ≡  GC=Sm IDENTICAL TO
U+02262 ‭ ≢  GC=Sm NOT IDENTICAL TO
U+02263 ‭ ≣  GC=Sm STRICTLY EQUIVALENT TO
U+02264 ‭ ≤  GC=Sm LESS-THAN OR EQUAL TO
U+02265 ‭ ≥  GC=Sm GREATER-THAN OR EQUAL TO
U+02266 ‭ ≦  GC=Sm LESS-THAN OVER EQUAL TO
U+02267 ‭ ≧  GC=Sm GREATER-THAN OVER EQUAL TO
U+02268 ‭ ≨  GC=Sm LESS-THAN BUT NOT EQUAL TO
U+02269 ‭ ≩  GC=Sm GREATER-THAN BUT NOT EQUAL TO
U+0226A ‭ ≪  GC=Sm MUCH LESS-THAN
U+0226B ‭ ≫  GC=Sm MUCH GREATER-THAN

And so too are all of these:

U+02639 ‭ ☹  GC=So WHITE FROWNING FACE
U+0263A ‭ ☺  GC=So WHITE SMILING FACE
U+0263B ‭ ☻  GC=So BLACK SMILING FACE
U+02666 ‭ ♦  GC=So BLACK DIAMOND SUIT
U+02667 ‭ ♧  GC=So WHITE CLUB SUIT
U+02695 ‭ ⚕  GC=So STAFF OF AESCULAPIUS
U+0269A ‭ ⚚  GC=So STAFF OF HERMES
U+026A2 ‭ ⚢  GC=So DOUBLED FEMALE SIGN
U+026A3 ‭ ⚣  GC=So DOUBLED MALE SIGN
U+026A4 ‭ ⚤  GC=So INTERLOCKED FEMALE AND MALE SIGN
U+026A5 ‭ ⚥  GC=So MALE AND FEMALE SIGN
U+026A6 ‭ ⚦  GC=So MALE WITH STROKE SIGN
U+026A7 ‭ ⚧  GC=So MALE WITH STROKE AND MALE AND FEMALE SIGN
U+1F430 ‭ 🐰  GC=So RABBIT FACE
U+1F431 ‭ 🐱  GC=So CAT FACE
U+1F432 ‭ 🐲  GC=So DRAGON FACE
U+1F4A9 ‭ 💩  GC=So PILE OF POO
U+1F4AA ‭ 💪  GC=So FLEXED BICEPS
U+1F4AB ‭ 💫  GC=So DIZZY SYMBOL
U+1F607 ‭ 😇  GC=So SMILING FACE WITH HALO
U+1F608 ‭ 😈  GC=So SMILING FACE WITH HORNS
U+1F631 ‭ 😱  GC=So FACE SCREAMING IN FEAR
U+1F63A ‭ 😺  GC=So SMILING CAT FACE WITH OPEN MOUTH
U+1F63B ‭ 😻  GC=So SMILING CAT FACE WITH HEART-SHAPED EYES
U+1F427 ‭ 🐧  GC=So PENGUIN
U+1F428 ‭ 🐨  GC=So KOALA
U+1F429 ‭ 🐩  GC=So POODLE
U+1F42A ‭ 🐪  GC=So DROMEDARY CAMEL
U+1F648 ‭ 🙈  GC=So SEE-NO-EVIL MONKEY
U+1F649 ‭ 🙉  GC=So HEAR-NO-EVIL MONKEY
U+1F64A ‭ 🙊  GC=So SPEAK-NO-EVIL MONKEY
U+1F478 ‭ 👸  GC=So PRINCESS
U+1F479 ‭ 👹  GC=So JAPANESE OGRE
U+1F47A ‭ 👺  GC=So JAPANESE GOBLIN
U+1F47B ‭ 👻  GC=So GHOST
U+1F47C ‭ 👼  GC=So BABY ANGEL
U+1F47D ‭ 👽  GC=So EXTRATERRESTRIAL ALIEN
U+1F47E ‭ 👾  GC=So ALIEN MONSTER
U+1F47F ‭ 👿  GC=So IMP
U+1F480 ‭ 💀  GC=So SKULL
U+1F71A ‭ 🜚  GC=So ALCHEMICAL SYMBOL FOR GOLD
U+1F71B ‭ 🜛  GC=So ALCHEMICAL SYMBOL FOR SILVER
U+1F71C ‭ 🜜  GC=So ALCHEMICAL SYMBOL FOR IRON ORE
U+1F71D ‭ 🜝  GC=So ALCHEMICAL SYMBOL FOR IRON ORE-2
share|improve this answer
    
Thanks @tchrist. Is that a complete list of punctuation marks? Where is ellipsis? Also I'm more interested in knowing if there is a case for emoticons being considered as punctuation marks (i.e. some kind of reasoning as to why they should/should not be considered as such). –  user13107 Sep 16 '12 at 18:23
    
I edited my comment above, please see. –  user13107 Sep 16 '12 at 18:27
    
Why? Apart from the fact that the Unicode committee didn't think so. –  user13107 Sep 16 '12 at 18:36
    
Sorry, if you took above comment as rude. I was just interested in whatever logic people might have applied in deciding so. –  user13107 Sep 16 '12 at 18:54
2  
@user13107: Just my gut feeling, but I think emoticons are too new for there to be an "official ruling" on whether or not they are (or will eventually be) regarded as bona fide punctuation. I can remember emoticons making their way into e-communications, when it wasn't all that uncommon to get a follow-on email asking for an explanation after you had used one; that was only a couple of decades ago. I don't have hard evidence, and you may not like my logic 8^) but my initial posture would be that the jury's still out. –  J.R. Sep 16 '12 at 22:00

Punctuation is a symbol.

Written language is a symbol — that is, the letters are (or were) meant to be symbols of the sound they represent.

My opinion is that emoticons are not formal, integrated punctuation symbols as yet. Check back in a hundred years or so.

share|improve this answer

I think an emoticon is a picture. No one ever said a picture was punctuation, did they?

share|improve this answer

protected by RegDwigнt Oct 12 '12 at 19:59

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.