Document Type: Research Article
SAMA Technical and Vocational Training College, Islamic Azad University, Ahvaz Branch, Ahvaz, Iran;
Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Iran
An emotion icon, better known as emoticon is a metacommunicative pictorial representation of a facial expression that, in the absence of body language and prosody, serves to draw a receiver's attention to the tenor or temper of a sender's nominal verbal communication, changing and improving its interpretation. The present study investigates the use of these nonverbal cues in whatsapp public chat. The analysis focuses on the multifunctionality of emoticons, their role in online relational work, and possible connections between emoticon use and language proficiency and thus contributes to a more complete understanding of emotive communication online. Its ultimate goal is to help clarify the role of emoticons within a larger conceptual framework of emotive and relational meaning. To this end, this study takes a micro-analytic approach to show how English as foreign language learners use emoticons in text chat. The analysis shows that emoticons are highly context-sensitive and can display affect or serve as contextual cues to signal illocutionary force or humor.