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Asian Emoticons   (May 2005)

We have many friends in Asia, and like everyone else, we keep in touch via email. We found that our Korean and Japanese friends interspersed their emails with mystifying symbols like T T or (T_T). Despite our best efforts, we couldn't figure out what they meant. The answer is obvious, but only if you know that Asian emoticons are "read" left to right and not "sideways" like American emoticons such as :-)

T_T symbolizes tears dripping down from the eyes, expressing sadness.

This new world of emoticons led me to do a web search, and I discovered that the emoticons of Japan and other Asian countries have a far richer vocabulary than any Western collection I've ever seen. The creativity and range of these emoticons is truly wonderful.

What could be more expressive than \(^o^)/ for happiness or "wow!" ?

Or how about (p_-) to signify looking through a magnifying glass, expressing "digging for the truth"?

Or (=^.^=) for "nekko" (cat), which in Japan expresses the coy question, "am I cute?"

As for actions, consider (-.-)y- for a cigaret break.

The best website I've found on Japanese emoticons is Japanese Smileys (emoticons). Please let me know if you find any sites listing emoticons used in other Asian nations.

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copyright © 2005 Charles Hugh Smith. All rights reserved in all media.

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