Rob and Vera have a misunderstanding about an email. Listen to this programme to find out why emoticons can be useful in written messages.
The script for this programme
(Vera bursts into the studio – she is not happy – sound of door opening abruptly)
Rob: What's happened Vera? You don't look very happy.
Vera: Of course I'm not happy. I've just read the email you sent saying if I don't come to the studio soon you are going to present the programme by yourself…
Rob: That's right.
Vera: And then you wrote: "With my beautiful voice, nobody will miss yours." That's a horrible thing to say, Rob!
Rob: Well, it would be horrible if it was a serious message. But haven't you noticed my emoticon at the end of the message?
Vera: Emoticon? I have the message printed out here… Yes, I can see here in the email that you typed a colon, followed by a hyphen and a closing bracket. And when I look at it sideways I can see… a smiley face… :-) It's an emoticon! It was a joke after all!
Rob: Yes. Emoticons were created precisely for this purpose, to avoid misunderstandings like the one we've just had. I wrote my message as a joke and you took it seriously.
Vera: I read recently that emoticons were created 30 years ago by a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Emoticon is a combination of the words 'emotional' and 'icon'.
Rob: And indicates if a message is serious or a joke. When you speak, you can express if you're serious about what you are saying but sometimes it is difficult to achieve that on paper. Listen to some verbal examples.
- (angry) "I don't like going to the cinema with you. You always fall asleep and end up snoring loudly."
- (jokingly) "I don't like going to the cinema with you. You always fall asleep and end up snoring loudly!"
Vera: When you say something, you can convey the spirit with the tone of your voice. But sometimes it is not clear when it is written.
Rob: But it's good to point out that emoticons are still an informal sort of message. It might not look good if you use them in a message to your boss or include them in your CV.
Vera: That's indeed a good thing to keep in mind. We should be careful when using emoticons.
Rob: Emoticons have become so popular that there are over a hundred of them. Some with a proper round yellow face.
Vera: Now that our misunderstanding has been sorted out, we should go out and celebrate! The 30th anniversary of the emoticon is a good excuse for some coffee and cake.
Rob: And let's celebrate our friendship too. A friendship saved by an emoticon – a smiley face in fact. Bye.
Rob: And Vera, your voice is very beautiful, by the way.
Vera: And so is yours, Rob. You should be a singer.
Rob: And so should you, Vera. Your voice is so melodic…
Vera/Rob: (sing together)