Benjamin Weissman


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Emoji semantics/pragmatics: investigating commitment and lying
Benjamin Weissman
Proceedings of the Fifth International Workshop on Emoji Understanding and Applications in Social Media

This paper presents the results of two experiments investigating the directness of emoji in constituting speaker meaning. This relationship is examined in two ways, with Experiment 1 testing whether speakers are committed to meanings they communicate via a single emoji and Experiment 2 testing whether that speaker is taken to have lied if that meaning is false and intended to deceive. Results indicate that emoji with high meaning agreement in general (i.e., pictorial representations of concrete objects or foods) reliably commit the speaker to that meaning and can constitute lying. Expressive emoji representing facial expressions and emotional states demonstrate a range of commitment and lie ratings: those with high meaning agreement constitute more commitment and more of a lie than those with less meaning agreement in the first place. Emoji can constitute speaker commitment and they can be lies, but this result does not apply uniformly to all emoji and is instead tied to agreement, conventionality, and lexicalization.