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Smileys: emotions on paper

on 17 January 2007
by Aiwan print the content item
in Articles > Smile, Kolobok
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Smileys: emotions on paper

kolobok I was writing my term paper and I had such an uncontrollable wish to put a smiley at the end of some sentences. The same wish I have now. I remember the small frowsy editorial office, black chairs piled one on another, concentrated faces of my course mates, everyone of them wanted to assert oneself by any means and to prove that he/she is better, everyone of them learns some commonplaces from the professor journalist Vasiljev.

- What do these side notes mean? "Smiling", "laughing", "sigh"? – Vasiljev says as usual through clenched teeth, while reading our interviews, - remember, all these emotions must be understandable from the text. There have to be no side notes. It is one of the main rules of journalism.

So I’m writing my term paper, sometimes interrupting this process by making tea or reading some blogs in internet and melting because of a variety of yellow smileys which move, put out their tongues, kiss and blush, how sweet! The prophet Nabokov said 1969: "I often think that there must exist a certain typographical mark symbolizing a smile, - something as a kind of a curved line, a lying round bracket.. " If even he, a great writer, missed a simple bracket to express smile on paper, what can poor journalists do, when it's often more convenient to put the simple “:)” instead of a long description by words. Dot, dot, comma – here is a funny face, that thanks to our modern technologies can be animated and becomes as real as a picture from the candy insert from Harry Potter. Wonderful technology! But it’s not a technology, but smileys what really came to us. They appeared actually so many years ago – in the 6. Century before Christ, after hieroglyphs in the ancient China. Could You imagine it? This were of course no dots and brackets, but they were already smileys, ancestries of smileys, which actually have their own smiley family tree. And very heavy fate.

Found on a bark, on rocks, horseshoes (!), hammocks, fans of beauties, they aroused researchers’ great interest, one of the most active and interested in this subject - the Thai scholar Tianuk Srumlen – the victim of the Holocaust , has written a unique book about secrets of ancient smileywriting.

One can now imagine the ancient Rome with its gladiators and emperors, buffaloes and lions, blood, dirt and fires, olives and vines, when Christians are persecuted, when books are written in Latin, and when a branch of smileysm is developing. The great Cicero in his great Philippics fatefully admits, that the great art of orators is damaged because of these stupid symbols - smileys – and mainly because of its’ spreaders – Greek slaves from senators' houses. A custom to combine normal language and smileys 50 to 50 came from Egypt in the 2. Century. The Roman secret service perceived it as a conspiracy, and 400 Young philosophers from Alexandria were carved to pieces. Smileys spread step by step further and further, through Malta, Spain, Germany and found their way to our homeland and – oh God – “infected” our Russia. And in those letters from Ivan the Terrible to his friend Kurbskiy, which I read in the anthology in terrible agonies while preparing for my exam, everything was funnier, diluted with smileys! And further - as it was with many innovations – smileys with sailors came to seaport towns, where they stayed for ages, were brought to new discovered lands and became there a master, they were divided into pirate smileys, parliamentarian smileys, trading smileys, philosophical smileys (used even by Isaac Newton!), so, they lived their own hectic socio-political life.

But many of them faced a guileful historical event – French Revolution 1789, which ignored everything connected with the king including his elegant distingue smileys of the Louis the Fifteenth’ epoch. Poor, poor, poor smileys were prohibited upon penalty of death! And after many wars, after the great Napoleon there was nothing left of them.

But it didn’t hinder them to strengthen fundamentally in Ethiopia and many other countries having become a kind of secret scripts. Even now there are many organizations which treat them not like a usual symbol, but like an old type script.

In our time – in 80s-90s – we can observe the birth of well known colons with brackets, small and primitive, arousing some kind of a retrograde feeling like the first black-and-white Mickey-Mouse cartoons. There are such smiley researchers, who treat smiley not as a stylistic mark or a made up computer slang, but as an appearance of a new reality, as a global net development consequence, as a mediatization and as ... many other terrible words.

If You just have a look at these funny yellow creatures, You feel Yourself like offended for them. How can they be “mediatization” products? They are just like our cute virtual pets, like tamagotchi (that have also aroused a tsunami of negative comments), its partners in the hard task of complicated emotions transferring. So, smiley existed, smiley still exist and smiley will exist, and if my research advisor doesn’t like them, it still isn’t a reason to impoverish my term paper born with so much pain.

Let it smile!
Author: Lena Kramarenko
Source of information: editorial stuff of the magazine "Shmile"

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