I just received this:


In addition to the strange character, I was wondering about the meaning (fear? speed?).

Do you consider this kind of communication a part of the language?
Would this question be off-topic on this website?


5 Answers 5


I am in favour of accepting questions of that sort, because emoticons are a huge thing in modern use of Japanese. The purist in me thinks different, but for practical purposes, I'd just run with it. Most can be answered by pointing to an online resource anyway. Which means if people google it, they find the question which quickly points them to their answer, and we don't have to keep deleting these questions again and again. Everyone's happy.

If there is even a single (answered) question on that topic and someone types a new question with "emoticon" in it, they get pointed to the older one immediately. If they insist on asking again, it can still be marked as a duplicate.

I would also not expect there to be tons of such questions, as the topic is rather narrow. As long as there are only few, it's probably not too bad.


Sorry, but by no stretch of the imagination is this part of the language. It is part of the culture and communication tools. But based on the examples of ask/don't-ask questions that were defined so far, this is pretty clearly out, no matter how interesting.


I think in Japanese that emoticons are slang punctuation and could well be on topic since both slang and punctuation are on topic.

Also, after a very controversial debate, many more-or-less standardish Japanese emoticons were even added to Unicode, which is supposed to be for written language.


I would say that this would generally be off topic here; however, someone over on Superuser might be able to identify what it is pretty quickly.

  • 1
    Do you mean such a question is acceptable at Superuser? Jun 25, 2011 at 10:17
  • @Nicolas: I don't see why it wouldn't be, emoticons have shown up there before in the past - superuser.com/questions/52671/…
    – user51
    Jun 25, 2011 at 14:57

No. Even if we take emoticons to be part of the Japanese language, we've already established that trivial translation questions are off-topic.

  • 2
    I don't think it's translation as much as dictionary lookup. The two cross over but are not the same and the latter hasn't been as flatly ruled out as the former. We have plenty of what does "XYZ" mean questions. Jun 25, 2011 at 8:40
  • Amanda S: It is not trivial to me. I could not find this one in any dictionary or emoticons list. Jun 25, 2011 at 10:22

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