Emoticon, Emoji, Kaoani, Henohenomoheji, Shift_JIS art

old_emoticonThe expansion of the “internet universe” is determining lots of “collateral effects”, among these we underline the spreading of a certain “linguistic scissors” between the spoken language and the virtual one.
The global diffusion of chat and social services, tools of immediate access, often used through smart devices characterized by keyboards and video of small dimensions, available also on the move, is changing our way of expressing and communicating.
The virtual language, that is the “smart language“, is more and more synthetic, brief, ill-formed. First it has abandoned the punctuation, then the apostrophes and the accents and finally it has pushed aside the breaks, spaces and articles. But gradually, it is losing part of the vowels and consonants.
In some of the previous articles, we have pointed out the fact that internet is able to produce phenomena and tendencies as a reaction of rules and situations which characterize the real world. The new ways of communication, the new linguistic forms, confirm this axiom, that the world of the rhetoric, exposition, time and space with an exclusive use and available only for the few, finds its alternative in the social tools, direct, immediate and available to everyone: to the timid ones, the different ones, to the youngest.
A brachyological approach, in open contrast with the twentieth-century’s rhetoric, inclined to simplify, accelerate and reduce the waste of energies on the keyboard but, at the same time, able to provide an immediate contribution and, frequently, more sincere, participatory and collective, characterized by comments, opinions, emotions.
On top of this process we find of course the hashtags which became the common denominator of the cyber-thought, the glue between users who don’t know each others, the main vehicle for new tendencies and new debates. But it’s not just that…
Very close, still on the podium, we find the Emoticons, smileys, which represent facial expressions such as a smile or a frown, often used for emphasizing what was already said or in replay to what was just read (therefore fundamental in order to provide fast answers, simultaneously, to more friends or groups of friends). For instance it is widespread among the users of the chat WhatsApp, becoming a tool of global communication. The Emoticons have become the “salt and pepper” of our conversations. Hands up how many of you didn’t “spice” at least once a conversation or a comment with a smiley!

emoticonsIf we go further toward East we find the Emoji, pictographic symbols created in Japan. It is about entity characterized by a greater expressive detail, the same one “adopted” by Apple in its iOS system. The Japanese have a particular predilection toward these symbols, perhaps for the strong assonance with their method of pictographic writing. From a certain point of view the Kana, the syllabic alphabets which allow the writing in Japanese, are very close to these new tendencies, they represent the progeny of it.

EmojiAnd because the imagination has no limit, and consequently neither the forms of expression, online we also find the Kaoani, term derived from the Japanese kao (….smiley) and ani (….animation). It is about emoticon, normally very small, able to become animated in order to emphasize even more the concept. Altogether, in our opinion, the kaoani jump about a little too much. In fact, they do achieve their goal: to draw our attention.
In Japan the kaoani is also known as puff, blob souls, anikao or emoticon souls.
There are other forms of expression that are only apparently new, for instance the smileys denominated Henohenomoheji (へのへのもへじ) or Hehenonomoheji (へへののもへじ). It is about representations of faces, human expressions, used online but already present in the Japanese tradition as faces for scarecrows and masks. They are created positioning carefully some of the hiragana characters. In this case too, we have before us an expressive form that precedes the web advent: A form of simple communication, direct, childish, but at the same time immediate and rich of emotional potential.

henohenomohejiAs a background of all, we find forms of expression created in the early ‘80s, which use the set of characters ASCII, to put it plainly, that one that is currently on our keyboard and allows us to write. We are in the ASCII art, characterized by patterns, or better said by forms designed exclusively with the help of the special characters available on our keyboard.

ascii-snoopyTo confirm the “major plus” that the Japanese have in creating and using these expressive forms, we find the Shift_JIS art (Shift_Japanese Industrial Standards art), art which creates forms from the set of characters ASCII expressively enriched by the Japanese pictograms.
We clearly live the paradox where tools and new technologies determine a regression in the way of communicating and, at the same time, a remarkable increase regarding the quantity of the exchanged messages (not to mention how fast are exchanged and how many people are involved).
A global trend, characterized by various expressive forms, cannot be rejected by a simple urgency to reduce to a minimum the movements on the keyboard. There is clearly a trend in progress, which in answer to the expansion of our virtual relational net and the difficulty of contributing to our complex social system, tends to simplify, in a quite unique and original way, with the purpose of sharing emotional contents.
These new forms of art are the result of a precise process which includes the video games of the 1970s, the smileys, they too phenomenon in vogue in the 1980s, the SMS which allowed us to quickly communicate fast for all the 1990s, up to the new web, to the chats and the social networks 2.0.
After all, the web has only raised a sort of digital estate amplifying it on a global scale.



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