Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2542-3851
  • E-ISSN: 2542-386X
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This study aims to uncover the complexity of emoji usage on Chinese social media. We investigate emoji usage in comments on push notifications from the WeChat official account of , which was chosen as a representative for an open forum for public communication. The data includes 2,552 comments from 90 articles pushed by the account. The analysis adopts a discourse-pragmatic perspective within the framework of intercultural pragmatics (Kecskes 2014), taking into account both the local discourse environment and the cultural context. It is found that Chinese WeChat users show a preference for using emojis that are unique to the WeChat platform. Qualitative analyses were carried out on selected WeChat emojis used in comments fulfilling the speech acts of self-disclosure, self-praise, humor and complaining. Emojis are found to be used to perform and reinforce a sense of playfulness in social media, but underlying this playfulness there is a discursive conformity to social norms in real life. The use of emojis resolves the tension between the openness and freedom in social media and the conservative, constraint-bounded nature of established social norms.


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