R U :-) or :-( ? An Emoticon Can Even Tell the Prof That You're ^^;

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R U :-) or :-( ? An Emoticon Can Even Tell the Prof That You're ^^;

An English word that every Korean teenager knows, though native English speakers may not be familiar with it, is "emoticon." The words "emotion" and "icon" are combined to suggest a computer icon that communicates emotions. Whether you commonly use emoticons, or not, can be the yardstick measuring how young you are, at least at heart.

Emoticons in common usage include ^^; to express embarrassment, as the group of symbols represents a sweating face and T_T to show sadness, represented by tears streaming down a face. The young use emoticons when they write e-mails or send messages via their cellular phones.

There is nothing that teenagers, whose brains are full of novel and brilliant ideas, cannot express through emoticons. Starting from basic icons to express their own feelings, they have moved on to shape symbols representing concrete things. Candy is >(///)< and Vm~ indicates the shape of a fox. There are even patterns for denoting a Teletubby and a sleeping rabbit.

The fad for emoticons has given birth to specialized Web sites that offer a variety of ideas. You can find a range of exceptional emoticons on http:// www.my.netian.com or http://www.netsgo.com, if you type in "emoticon."

Emoticons have become an important part of life, not only for youth but also for adults. They spice up the messages that one sends, but many people who are not very familiar with these hot items find some bad aspects to them.

For example, there was an episode with an elderly professor who was grading his students' papers. He got confused by those who left notes on their papers using emoticons, such as "I'm sorry sir, but I didn't have enough time to study . . . ^^;" or "Next time, I will do better, please . . . T_T" Not being able to figure out what was meant, the professor thought the messages were mere scribblings. He failed the students.

Perhaps it is best to not overuse emoticons and to leave them out of official notes and papers altogether. One thing is clear though - emoticons are fun to use.

< Learning the Lingo >

(^ ^)(_ _)(^ ^) Taking a bow

(/^o^)/ Saying hi or dancing

($_$) A man crazy for money

(@_@) A bewildered man

(-.-)Zzz.. A sleeping man

- (:)(#)=B A teletubby

/) /)

Zz..( - - ) A sleeping rabbit

(" ) (" ))@

by Chun Su-jin

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