Sharing emotions or/and making allies : emoji’s interpersonal function in Chinese social media news comments

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationSocial Semiotics
Online published17 Jan 2022
Publication statusOnline published - 17 Jan 2022


This article explores the semiotic capabilities of emoji in realizing attitude and building alignment via Chinese social media. The news comments section on Weibo is filled with readers’ evaluative responses, making it a suitable site for examining the interpersonal function of emoji. Drawing on appraisal, the analysis of emoji and emoji-text interactions in the news comments is associated with a car quality story. The findings show that a commenter’s position is contingently forged through the concordant or discordant coupling of ideation with attitude across language and emoji. Instead of construing particular attitude, some emoji serve as a bondicon featuring friendlies to convene readers around negative appraisal, irony or humor in the text. Besides, a few emoji perform a dual part of carrying evaluation and signaling membership in the comments. For Weibo news readers, the multifunctional emoji become a strategical tool of public participation in sociopolitical issues.

Research Area(s)

  • Emoji, interpersonal function, public participation, Weibo news comments