HR Strange But True!
June 24, 2005

People are divided over the use of emoticons--sideways faces created using punctuation marks--in e-mail, according to Bill Dawson of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Some people are complaining that the use of emoticons is out of control, but they would never use >:-< to express that they are mad about it.

"To be perfectly honest, I would rather die than add a little smiley face to a message," says Angus Trumble author of "A Brief History of the Smile."

Carnegie Mellon University Professor Scott Fahlman is credited with introducing the emoticon in 1982, according to the newspaper. Since then, the use of emoticons has grown, and the High-Tech Dictionary has 239 emoticons and their meanings.

Users of emoticons contend they are convenient, offer a personal touch, and add context to their e-mails.

"I often use it to counteract e-mail's famous lack of context," says Amy Sitze of Minneapolis in an e-mail to the newspaper. "If I add a smiley emoticon, you hear the tone of voice I intended; I'm joking with you."

While some may find them frustrating, emoticons are no "danger to the preservation of good English." according to Anatoly Liberman, a University of Minnesota professor and author of "Word Origins"

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune

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