The tiny little text character called an emoticon, and what was used to illustrate emotion when using text chat and icons (…get it… emot-icon…. text chat emoticon…) celebrates its 30th birthday this month! *<:-)
That is correct, there is a fellow who has taken claim for inventing these things… It is reported that on September 19th, 1982 Professor Scott Fahlman of the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh was the first to create and send an electronic note that included the first use of the sideways smiley face.
According to Professor Fahlman, the aim of these little characters was to differentiate between emails that were meant to be humorous and those that were not. The Professor believes that somehow these little text illustration became the de facto way to add emotion into text?
Can it be? Text Chat Emoticons Are Part of English?
There are ways to make sense of these text chat emoticons. Thanks to transl8it! (an online website with a lot of these….) we have a way to separate typos from emotion, while ignoring the modern day variations of the emoticon which appear mainly as very small computer graphics.
For example, did you know that >:-> is “devilish” or that 5:-) is said to be Elvis and yes, we even have an emoticon for Homer Simpson… (_8^(|)
A complete list of text chat emoticons in their true text form can be found at http://www.transl8it.com/emoticons-smileys/