Smileys and other emoticons within parentheses
In informal online writing, such as blogs or e-mail, it has become a convention to include an emoticon, particularly a smiley-faced emoticon, to indicate that a comment is not intended to be interpreted literally or taken seriously. Technically speaking, I don’t think emoticons can be considered punctuation, because they generally provide a meaning of their own, rather than simply organizing or emphasizing text. My question is this, when including a smiley-faced emoticon--such as :)--at the end of a side comment in parentheses (dare I provide an example here? :)), do you: allow the closing parenthesis in the emoticon do double duty as a punctuation mark; allow the closing parenthesis of the emoticon run up against the closing parenthesis of the parenthetical statement, creating a doubled chin effect; put an otherwise inexplicable space between the emoticon and the closing parenthesis; or avoid the situation at all costs by rearranging the statement or supplying a different emoticon with a similar meaning (i.e., reword to avoid awkwardness)?
Here are some examples of each of the four solutions I provided:
1. (dare I provide an example here? :-) 2. (dare I provide an example here? :-)) 3. (dare I provide an example here? :-) ) 4. (dare I provide an example here? :-D)
Keep in mind that many programs will substitute the emoticon with an actual image of a smiley face (not that we should ever allow language to evolve to handle quirks of word processors).
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