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Emoticons: Noses or Noseless?

Have you ever wondered why some people put noses in their emoticons and others don't?

By
Mignon Fogarty,
January 23, 2012

Have you ever wondered why some people put noses in their emoticons and others don't? In a light-hearted Friday mood, I noticed that it seems as if fewer people are using noses these days, and I posted the pondering to Google+. I thought it might have to do with saving a character since we deal with such tight character limits on Twitter, but the answer was much more delightful! 

Stan Carey, an Irish writer who often has interesting things to say about language, found an emoticon research paper that addresses the nose issue. Yes, somebody actually researches these things!

The conclusion (and I paraphrase)—if you use a nose, you're probably old. Here's what the author, Stanford researcher Tyler Schnoebelen, wrote:

Emoticons with noses are historically older . . . people who use old-fashioned noses also use a different vocabulary—nose users don't mention Bieber or omg.

It's true! I always use a nose, and although I may occasionally use an "omg," it's not part of my daily lexicon, and I'm pretty sure I've never before typed "Bieber." Mystery solved, and a hat tip to both Stan Carey and Tyler Schnoebelen. :-)

Mignon Fogarty is the author of Grammar Girl's 101 Misused Words You'll Never Confuse Again. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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