Catch Phrase | 颜文字(Yánwénzì)

Writer: Debra Li  |  Editor: Stephanie Yang  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2021-05-20


“颜” means “face,” and “文字” means “characters.” Literally from the Japanese term “kaomoji,” it refers to a popular Japanese emoticon style made up of Japanese characters and grammar punctuations, used to express emotion or sentiment in texting and online communication. Chinese netizens use the term to refer to emoticons in general. The first emoticons, invented by Scott E. Fahlman at the Carnegie Mellon University in the United States in 1982, are the smiley face :-) and the frowning face :-(.

On the other hand, the emojis (绘文字, huìwénzì) were little cartoon figures invented in 1999 by Japanese Shigetaka Kurita and were intended for a Japanese user base. To attract Japanese customers, Apple hid an emoji keyboard in the first iPhone in 2007, which became popular among users around the world quickly.


A: 颜文字和绘文字一样吗?

Yánwénzì hé huìwénzì yīyàng ma?

Are emoticons and emojis the same?

B: 不一样。颜文字是字符表情,绘文字是卡通表情符。

Bù yīyàng。Yánwénzì shì zìfú biǎoqíng,huìwénzì shì kǎtōng biǎoqíngfú。

No. Emoticons are keyboard characters used to represent a facial expression, while emojis are little cartoon figures.