60

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?

  • 15
    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
  • 9
    :)) looks like an emoticon with a double-chin. – jcarmody Nov 11 '10 at 10:27
  • 1
    @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
  • 2
    The backward-smiley-closing-bracket (:) – Nobody Feb 10 '11 at 16:00

15 Answers 15

39

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.

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  • 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
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. ☹

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21

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.

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  • 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
  • 2
    The emoticon is drooling. :) – Goodbye Stack Exchange May 4 '11 at 4:28
13

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. :)

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9

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.

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8

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 ":-)>".

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5

Maybe these ones:

:-P)

:-{)

:-()

:-)-:

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  • Nice kissing smileys/frownies – Jared Updike Nov 11 '10 at 0:29
  • 3
    you forgot C:, :D, and ^.^ among others....:) – kitukwfyer Nov 11 '10 at 2:42
5

Use ٩(•̮̮̃•̃)۶ Unicode smileys

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4

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).

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2

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.

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2

(what about this (: )

ok... not good enough...

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2

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.
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1

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.

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0

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.
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0

Thanks to Unicode there's different widths of spaces, some of which may be more aesthetically pleasing depending on your preferences.

Figure Space

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

Thin Space

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

Hair Space

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

(Note: some render at different widths depending on font, so experiment with fonts if none of these are satisfactory)

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