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University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, Shanghai, China


With the rapid development of social media, emojis have gradually become an indispensable communication tool in computer-mediated communication (CMC). In recent years, researchers have found that emojis not only have semantic and syntax functions (e.g., punctuation), but also perform pragmatic functions. Therefore, this thesis is to investigate the differences in pragmatic functions of “smile” emoji between people of different ages. And this paper is a small-scale quantitative research based on the eight pragmatic functions of emoticons proposed by Yus (2014). To find out similarities and differences of “smile” emoji between people of different ages, this paper compared the use frequency and pragmatic functions of “smile” emoji in two WeChat groups which are from youth and middle-aged people and did statistical analysis by Statistic Package for Social Science (SPSS). According to similarities and differences in frequency and pragmatic functions, “smile” emoji can be divided into four categories, which are: (1) similar frequency but different functions; (2) different frequency but similar function, (3) emojis exist only in one group; and (4) similar in both use frequency and function. So, the results suggest that there is a difference between people of different ages using “smile” emoji in WeChat communication. Thus, this study will provide insights into how to use emojis in WeChat when people at different ages communicate with each other can make a successful conversation.


smile emoji, pragmatic functions, frequency, WeChat communication

Cite this paper

Sino-US English Teaching, August 2021, Vol. 18, No. 8, 207-215 doi:10.17265/1539-8072/2021.08.001


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