Emoticons in Relational Writing Practices on WhatsApp: Some Reflections on Gender

  • Carmen Pérez-SabaterEmail author


This chapter aims to study the linguistic conventions of use of emoticons in several WhatsApp communities, focusing specifically on gender differences in adults’ interactions. Several methodological approaches serve to this end. A discourse analysis of online interactions is contextualized by offline data taken from interviews, while a questionnaire works as an anonymous source of information, and an initial point of departure. The study concludes that subjects’ gender plays an important role in determining how emoticons are included in these written conversations for relational purposes. Emoticons in women’s chats seldom add a propositional meaning but simply emphasize the participants’ belonging to the group, regardless of content. The analysis also reveals that the affordances of WhatsApp do not generally determine the actions of users in emoticon use.



Thanks to the editors, Patricia and Pilar, and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions that have greatly improved the original manuscript. Special gratitude to my colleague and friend Begoña Montero-Fleta for her help in processing the questionnaire and the corpus.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied LinguisticsUniversitat Politècnica de ValènciaValenciaSpain

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