Introduction to Smileys
Smiley Variations
Syelims, Smilims, and Security

PART I. Introduction to Smileys

Smileys are extremely terse expressions composed of a sequence of punctuation and other symbols arranged to convey, visually, a sentiment or emotion -- provided you are willing to tilt your head sideways. (Regardless of whether they grin, frown, or stick out their tongue, these little mood clues are all known as "smileys", in memory of the first of their kind, that was typed as a full colon, followed by a dash, followed by a right parenthesis, like this :-)

If you turn your head sideways, with your left earlobe brushing your left shoulder, this funny little sequence always looks back at you with a happy face. The first time someone ever encounters and decodes a smiley ("What is that stuff at the end of the sentence?" Shrugs, tilts head to left. "Oh! That's cute."), the revelation almost guarantees a smile.

The effect of a smiley is as universal as our facial versions are varied. Smiling smileys smile as sweetly in any font, point size, or attribute. Smileys are adaptable and, like the text they accompany, may sometimes be bold, italicize for a different slant, walk taller to make a point size, imprint themselves ornately or simply and in any color, with or without serifs, or be rendered in almost any font. The cheery sentiment somehow penetrates the typography.

	:-)	:-)	:-)	:-)	:-)	:-)	:-)	:-)
Smileys are truly international. Even if the rest of the message is entirely foreign to you, the smiley's sentiment still shines thru. It is the one part you will always be sure to understand, whether the text was written English, Russian, Fortran, Greek, Pig-Latin, cryptogram, or any other language that scans left-to-right,

If your neck gets tired (or perhaps if you are writing Hebrew, Arabic, or an Oriental language that scans right-to-left), you may wish to experiment with nonconformist "sylelims" (-: for example).

Smileys are customarily used in "email" communications or in text messages posted on computer "bulletin boards", to add a non-verbal emphasis or connotation (or a clarification) to a message that is otherwise constructed from the 26 (or 52) letters of the alphabet (or ALPHABET).

There are many ways to smile (or frown)

Just as there are many kinds of smile, there are many kinds of smiling smileys. Right parentheses do not bracket nor embrace all of the possible choices for upturned corners. Following are some other possibilities, with the interpretation left to the weary-necked reader:


While a smile may well be the nicest facial expression, there are many others. (Traditionally, these devices are still called "smileys", even when the choose not to smile.) Substituting a left parenthesis gives a somewhat exaggerated sad face:
The same is true for the other lefties:
	:-<	:-[	:-{	
Slash and backslash seem to add confusion, and perhaps even a hint of despair:
	:-/	:-\	
Altho the vertical bar may be the mathematical mean, it comes also across more sad than mean:
Exclamations from the corner of the mouth come out with a bang:
So far, these expressions all have no teeth, as the smiles and frowns were rendered in a closed-mouthed fashion. Paired parentheses surround a wide open mouth but a rather odd mood:

Continued in part II: Smiley Variations

1997 by ABCD unlimited, Middle Island, NY 11953-0456 / All rights reserved!

Introduction to Smileys
Smiley Variations
Syelims, Smilims, and Security


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