Linguistics and English Language

Language in context seminar

Speaker: Minkun Liu (University of Edinburgh, Linguistics and English Language)

Title: Emoji and managing rapport on Wechat group interaction among Chinese students

Abstract: Emoji are ideograms and pictographs widely used in online interaction nowadays. Despite their growing popularity, insufficient studies have examined the pragmatic functions of emojis and the use of emoji in the language of Chinese. This present study aims to fill these gaps by investigating how emoji relates to interactional work on WeChat, the largest messaging app in China. In addition, this study explores Chinese (as a language) and WeChat (as a technology) will afford what kinds of emoji practices on group interaction. Adopting Spencer-Oatey’s (2005) rapport management model, this study finds that emoji can not only strengthen or soften different speech acts that contribute to adequate expression in a socially-appropriate way (illocutionary domain); but also, help to close the conversation and maintain a successful interaction between interlocutors (discourse domain); and serve to be a useful cue to show informality and enjoyment, enhancing the rapport between interlocutors (stylistic domain). The study also shows the ‘particularity’ of emoji practices on WeChat that only related to Chinese politeness and language, which casts doubts on the hyperbolic claim that emoji become a ‘universal language’ (Alshenqeeti, 2016).


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Stephen McNulty

Sarah Van Eyndhoven

Co-ordinators of LinC

Nov 27 2019 -

Language in context seminar

2019-11-27: Emoji and managing rapport on Wechat group interaction among Chinese students

Room 1.03, 24 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9LN