Every inhabited place in the world has teenagers. Most of them love texting their friends, be it through phones, Facebook, Kakao Talk, etc. Since these are conversations, people need to express emotions, using more than just words. But did you know that not every country expresses their emotions the same way? Let’s take a look at the emotion happiness or amusement. 

First, we have the standard American English form (these may be the same in other English speaking countries as well, but I’m basing this post off things I know for certain).  If we’re happy, or want to look pleasant, we insert a smiley face, like this :). This smiley has variations, of course. I, for example,  always add noses to my smileys, but the general format is similar. For laughter, we use the phonetic spelling hahaha, or simply ha. * You’d think this would stay the same throughout the world, but it isn’t so.

image source: wikipedia.org

image source: wikipedia.org

If we head south, to Spanish speaking countries, the expression is pretty similar. In Spanish, the “H” sound is expressed with a “J”, so laughter is spelled as jajajaja. (Fun fact, ja is used in many European languages as the word yes, so to any German/speakers of languages with Nordic or Germanic origins, this may seem a bit strange).

Traveling in a northeasterly direction will take us to our next stop, Russian speaking countries. The format for laughter is generally the same (the Russian “X” makes an “H” sound), so laughter is written as axaxaxaxax. However, unlike the standard American smiley, Russian smileys have no eyes. So, the average Russian smiley face looks like this), normally right after a  word, as I showed you. I won’t lie, when texting with a friend who is teaching me Russian, I honestly believed for quite a while that his phone had a glitch, as most of his sentences ended with a parentheses.

complete infographic and source: domandhyo.com

complete infographic and source: domandhyo.com

Going even further east takes to East Asia, where the real fun starts. A common expression of happiness in China and Vietnam (and possibly other countries) is this symbol: ~, usually written multiple times. So, if I had a great day at school, and I’m texting a friend in Vietnam, I might say ” I had an awesome day today! ~~~”,’  and she might reply with “So happy for you ~~~~~~”.  In terms of emoticons, they’re more complex than the ones I’m accustomed to, with ^^ meaning happy, *^^* for blushing, to name a few.

I find languages quite fascinating, as you guys probably know, so seeing how they change modern communication fascinates me, and I’d love to learn more about them. Did I miss your country or region? Comment below how you express emoticons in text!


Around the World is a feature about global geekery, exploring other cultures, and much more. To submit a post idea, simply leave a comment!