A Look at a Few of the Lesser Known MSN Emotion Icons
MSN emotion icons (sometimes called MSN emoticons) are handy images that are inserted into text communication to
help convey emotion and a subtle sense of meaning that is not possible when using ASCII text messaging alone.
While originally all MSN emotion icons were pure ASCII text, later generations of MSN Messenger software
actually parse the text string and replace the emoticon with an associated image.
The most well known of all MSN emotion icons is, of course, the standard smiley face. Using a colon for
eyes, an optional dash for a mouth, and an open parenthesis for the smile, the standard smiley face in MSN
messenger is replaced with a smiling icon. Likewise, other well known ASCII emoticons such as the surprised
face, the winking face, the crying face, and others, are replaced in MSN messenger with related icons. While
the basic MSN emotion icons are triggered by ASCII strings that correspond roughly to the actual image, some of the
newer and more obscure MSN emotion icons are more complicated and do not correspond directly to a text string that
resembles the emotion or idea being expressed.
Many of the lesser known MSN emotion icons use symbols to indicate the icon to be used in the text
message. For example, a 'w' enclosed between open and close parenthesis is used to display a wilted rose
icon. Likewise, an ampersand enclosed in parenthesis instructs the MSN Messenger software to display a puppy
face. Clearly, there are no ASCII strings that could convincingly portray images such as these.
The newer MSN emoticon icons have transcended the clever but limited scheme of using the standard character set
to create images. By using a suite of identifier symbols to represent MSN emotion icons, it is possible to
express a wide variety of emotions and concepts that could not be expressed using only standard text
messaging. Of course, it pays to become familiar with all of the symbols if you use MSN Messenger for serious
communication, since it is sometimes possible to use the symbols unintentionally. For example, many people
use the character 'c' enclosed in parenthesis to indicate copyright. However, MSN Messenger interprets that
as a coffee cup!