English Research Paper

Emojis and the performance of humour in electronic-mediated everyday conversation: a study of a corpus of WhatsApp chats

Internet Pragmatics |


Emojis are little pictographs commonly added to electronic messages on several social
media and platforms. Besides being considered as a way to express emotions in electronicmediated communication (EMC), similarly to ASCII emoticons, emojis are strictly
involved in the performance of humour in everyday digital conversation. Drawing on a
corpus of casual WhatsApp dyadic chats, this paper analyses the contribution of emojis to
humour in conversation. Results show that these pictographs not only help to signal the
opening and closing of the play frame, but also to respond to humour, graphically
reproducing laughter. For these purposes, the most common emojis employed by
WhatsApp users are the popular yellow smiling and laughing faces. Nevertheless, other
pictographs are also involved in electronic humour, as less common emojis can be used in
playful ways by themselves.