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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


LAWRENCE, Donovan. Afrikaans students' use of emojis. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2022, vol.62, n.4, pp.743-765. ISSN 2224-7912.

Everyday five billion emojis are used on Facebook Messenger, one out of every five Twitter messages contains an emoji and half of all Instagram comments have an emoji (Emojipedia. org, 2022). The use of emojis in online text messages has become increasingly prevalent in not only informal online interactions between family and friends, but also in formal contexts such as WhatsApp messages used in online learning. Over the last decade the use of WhatsApp has evolved from being used for informal interactions to being used as a platform for online learning and teaching in schools and universities. As a learning platform it has proved effective for using text messages to exchange information and knowledge and discuss lesson content. In this article a group of undergraduate Afrikaans students ' use of emojis in three different contexts (interactions with friends and family, peers, and tutors; and lecturers) is examined to ascertain how the differentiation in context influences their use of emojis, how the use of emojis influences their online communication and how social presence in online learning is influenced using emojis. To this end, a mixed-method approach in the form of a case study was used. Students ' experiences of and attitudes towards the use of emojis were measured quantitatively and qualitatively using an electronic questionnaire that consisted of twenty-two questions. The questionnaire allowed for two sets of data to be gathered: quantitative data about the use of ten different emojis in three different contexts and qualitative data about student's motivations for their use. The findings are interpreted against the backdrop of existing research and within the framework of the Social Presence Theory (Short, Williams & Christie, 1976). In the modern-day context this theory acknowledges that computer mediated communication (CMC) has a lower social presence than face-to-face communication due to the absence of non-verbal cues. Furthermore, it states that different types of CMC have different degrees of social presence because of their varying capacities to convey socio-emotional information. What follows is a summary of the most important findings. Students ' use of emojis is influenced by context. More emojis are used in WhatsApp messages to friends and family, fewer in messages to peers and tutors and the least in messages to lecturers. There is also a differentiation in the type of emojis used in these interactions: face emojis tend to be used more in informal contexts whilst hand emojis are used more in formal learning contexts. Findings further indicate that because emojis save time and are fun to use they impact on student's online communication in different ways. The use of emojis not only enhances the correct interpretation of messages but also creates social presence. However, in cases where emojis are interpreted differently it may lead to misunderstandings therefore hampering successful communication. In communication between students, their peers and tutors the use of emojis results in the creation of a comfortable atmosphere and social presence conducive to learning. Fewer, if any, emojis are used in interactions between students and lecturers. When used it is mostly restricted to the use of the less emotive thumbs-up and praying hands emojis. Although students are not comfortable using emojis in their WhatsApp messages to lecturers (they regard online learning as a formal context and deem the use of emojis in this context as inappropriate) most respondents (41%) are undecided as to whether or not emojis have a role to play in enhancing online communication between students and lecturers during online learning. Students in favour of using emojis in this context, although in the minority, indicated that emojis might - just like in their interactions with peers and tutors - also help in this context to create a relaxed atmosphere and social presence conducive to learning. More research on this aspect of emoji use is necessary.

Palavras-chave : Afrikaans students; online learning; emojis; emoticons; interaction; learning platform; computer mediated communication (CMC); social presence; Social Presence Theory; text-based communication; WhatsApp.

        · resumo em Africaner     · texto em Africaner     · Africaner ( pdf )


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