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Siebenhaar, Beatm (2018). »Funktionen von Emojis und Altersabhängigkeit ihres Gebrauchs in der WhatsApp-Kommunikation«. In: Ziegler, Arne (Hg.). Jugendsprachen/Youth Languages: Aktuelle Perspektiven internationaler Forschung/Current Perspectives of International Research. Berlin, Boston. S. 749-772.

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Abstract: The article examines whether the use of emojis varies with the age of the chatters. The phenomenological insight into two corpora, a corpus of Swiss German and German data, contains the representation, commentary and illustration function of emojis, similar to the description for the ‘classic’ ASCII smileys. However, the expanded inventory of the iconic signs widens their use on all three levels. Due to this expansion, emojis are increasingly used with a referential function. Emojis mainly take the grammatical function of nouns or simple noun phrases, but they also appear as verbs or in emoji combinations as relatively complex propositions or as a substitute for communicative actions. In addition, substitutions of letters by emojis with a similar shape are also possible. Since emojis represent a more recent phenomenon of medially written language, the expectation - and the general prejudice - is that emojis are used more frequently by younger people with regard to them also chatting more, and - given their playful character - emojis are especially favoured by young people. This trend has been confirmed for the Swiss-German data. However, the analysis of a comparable German corpus shows a different, non-age-related distribution, which questions the generalizability of this age effect on the basis of the two examined corpora. Despite the relatively large data size of 419 and 374 thousand messages from 359 and 209 people respectively, a possible distortion of the data cannot be completely dismissed. Therefore, the results should be read and interpreted with caution so as not to draw premature conclusions. A further investigation should also take into account the chat partners or their age. Beyond the quantitative analysis, however, it is also necessary to examine whether the functions and specific patterns of usage presented in the text show an age-dependent frequency distribution. Both demands have not been respected in this article.

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