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These studies contribute to an emerging understanding of the functional variance of emoticons.

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Moreover, by documenting the multifunctionality of smileys, the descriptive analysis shows that form-meaning pairings (e.g. Rather, emoticons are highly context-sensitive and can display affect or serve as contextual cues to signal illocutionary force and/or humor.

In face-to-face communication, nonverbal cues including kinesic and prosodic markers do relational work.

In fact, the social information processing (SIP) model posits that CMC users will achieve relationships much like face-to-face communicators, albeit through different strategies and tools, which may include emoticons (Walther, 1992).

Aside from the expression of affect, emoticons have been found to fulfill other functions, such as disambiguating the message, regulating the interaction, and strengthening the message content (e.g., Derks, Bos, & von Grumbkow, 2008; Riordan & Kreuz, 2010).

In general, females use emoticons more often than males (Fox et al., 2007; Herring, 2003; Wolf, 2000; but cf. In sum, researchers have found that gender and medium impact emoticon use, as do contextual factors such as setting and communication purpose.

Whereas existing emoticon research has largely taken the meaning of emoticons for granted, a few studies explore what it is that an emoticon contributes to the message in a given context.

Such qualitative research could provide for a richer and more nuanced understanding of emoticons and their interpretations in different contexts.

Like nonverbal cues in oral interaction, emoticons are not an add-on feature but are constitutive of CMC, and they occur in both native and nonnative speaker online discourse.

The analysis focuses on the multifunctionality of emoticons, their role in online relational work, and possible connections between emoticon use and language proficiency and thus contributes to a more complete understanding of emotive communication online.

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