Emojis as Pictures
Emar Maier
July 2021
 

I argue that emojis are pictures, not a species of words, gestures, or expressives. 🎁 means that the world looks like that, from some viewpoint. I formalize this in terms of geometric projection with stylization. Since such a pictorial semantics delivers only very minimal contents I add an account of pragmatic enrichment, driven by coherence and metaphor. The apparent semantic distinction between emojis depicting entities and those depicting facial expressions I analyze as a difference between truth-conditional and use-conditional pictorial content: 🎁 depicts what the world of evaluation looks like, while πŸ˜„ depicts what the utterance context looks like. Combined with the idea that the speaker’s facial expressions thus depicted by face emojis are themselves expressive, I derive the intuition that face emojis can be used to express emotional states, while maintaining that they are pictures.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006025
(please use that when you cite this article)
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keywords: emojis, pictorial semantics, symbolic vs iconic, geometric projection, pragmatic enrichment, coherence, metaphor, expressives, facial expressions, use-conditional content, semantics, morphology
previous versions: v2 [June 2021]
v1 [June 2021]
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