Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, February 03, 2021

Lately, I’ve been getting emails from a few different people who close their correspondence with a “J”.

I figured this was a new-fangled addition to the emoticon dictionary. Indeed, the sideways letter-J does suggest a sly type of smile symbol (almost a smirk, really), minus the colon, semi-colon or whatever else to represent the eyes for face-completion. So I started to think that this “J” signaled a further deconstruction down from the what-was-supposed-to-be-basic two-character visual/textual hybrid, to a single keystroke connoting both cheerfulness and lack of time/patience to type even one more key.

Alas, it looks like I over-analyzed the situation:

I’ve been getting some emails lately at my personal Gmail account from people at Microsoft with a freestanding “J” or “L” at the end of some sentences… emoticon-like syntax and placement, but more cryptic… I thought I had missed the memo on some new internet meme or shorthand, but it turns out it’s just a “feature” of how Outlook translates some standard emoticons into images.

So the effect is totally unintended. Just two sets of software not speaking to one another properly (in my case, my Yahoo! Mail receiving unnecesssarily-processed Outlook-sent messages).

However… I can see this spawning the actual use of “J” as a next-stage emoticon, for the reasons cited above. That, and the ubiquity of Outlook making the occurrence of this “new” emoticon more familiar to more people in short time. It’ll be a case of unintended consequences creating a whole new means of expression.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/03/2021 02:55pm
Category: Internet
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4 Feedbacks »
  1. Thanks for sorting this out, I’ve been wondering about the “J” thing. I think you’re spot on!

    Comment by Adam — 02/10/2021 @ 10:04 AM

  2. @herbadmother here you go: http://tinyurl.com/bbe6ea

    Trackback by Angela — 03/04/2021 @ 6:11 PM

  3. Thanks,
    I’ve been confused by the random “J”s for months.

    Comment by John — 09/04/2021 @ 5:45 PM

  4. I too noticed this “new” emoticon a while back in gmail using Firefox. But then I confirmed what you figured out as well. I viewed the original source of the email (in gmail you click on the down arrow next to the reply button and choose “show original”). You’ll see the text version of the message contains the old fashioned smiley that we all know and love :-) . However, the html version has the letter J wrapped by font and span tags that attempt to render the letter J as a Wingdings font face. In browsers other than Firefox, the smiley is properly rendered. However, as of Firefox 3, this is not the case. There is a clumsy workaround for FF 2, but nothing so far for FF 3. There is a good explanation at http://support.mozilla.com/tiki-view_forum_thread.php?locale=fi&forumId=1&comments_parentId=64810

    Comment by CJ Jelinek — 11/27/2009 @ 11:46 AM

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