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A Tale as Old as 1862
May 16, 2011 11:09 AM   Subscribe

The Emoticon: An Origin of the Species?
posted by troubadour (33 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I vote typesetter error.
posted by amro at 11:13 AM on May 16, 2011


No. Stop being ridiculous.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:13 AM on May 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


I wasn't at all convinced. But then I noticed this in the Gettysburg address:

"The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, lol..."
posted by found missing at 11:18 AM on May 16, 2011 [16 favorites]


The fact that this was even debated shows how little people think about my friend the semi-colon. If you're a person, like me, who overuses it, the typesetter-reverse error seems obvious.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:21 AM on May 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


I see somebody was listening to the rerun of WWDTM this week. :)
posted by kmz at 11:21 AM on May 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Psh. No.
posted by clockzero at 11:22 AM on May 16, 2011


All I could think of was that I would love to build a time machine and show the typesetter this article and let him comment on it. I bet he would't have thought that his typesetting would be the topic of an article in the Times nearly 150 years later.
posted by michael.ka at 11:24 AM on May 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's a typesetter error. If it was intentional, the parentheses never got closed.
posted by penduluum at 11:26 AM on May 16, 2011


@kmz Indeed!
posted by troubadour at 11:26 AM on May 16, 2011


It is a time traveler stuck in 1862 trying to send a message that only we in 2011 could possibly receive.

Given that he failed to close the parentheses, though, leaving the rest of the article and indeed the universe embedded as a parenthetical I vote we leave him there.

Alternatively: )

There. This is the first sentence outside the 160-year parenthetical we just underwent.
posted by DU at 11:27 AM on May 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


2009? Have they settled this yet?

The New York Times felt it was worth all that time to attempt (with no chance it would be conclusively determined) to figure out if that ; was intentional?

This is why we have to pay to read the Times now, they spent WAY to much money on this kind of crap!
posted by tomswift at 11:27 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a Godwink...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 11:28 AM on May 16, 2011


A thread on 100 year old punctuation and already you've Godwinked it...
posted by Schmucko at 11:36 AM on May 16, 2011


Wow NYT, I know its your blog section but why are you posting shit like this.
posted by Harpocrates at 11:36 AM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Was the document creator dressed in a snazzy hooded sweater, sunglasses, stamped t-shirt and holding a compact camera?
posted by cashman at 11:37 AM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I knew Time Traveling Hipster, I favorited Time Traveling Hipster, Time Traveling Hipster was a favorite meme of mine. Misplaced Emoticon, you're no Time Traveling Hipster.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:45 AM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I vote typeset error or notation for the president to take a pause/ beat before continuing after the word "yourselves",

Or, and this is a possibility that we have to seriously consider, that Lincoln was a time traveler and he instructed the person who printed his speech to include the emoticon so that one day, almost a hundred and fifty years later, we'd see it and realize, "Holy crap! Lincoln was from the Future!"

I'm guessing that in his time-stream the North lost the Civil War and eventually the divided nation, in ever increasing examples of competitive brinkmanship, accidentally opened a portal to hell, flooding the country with evil flesh eating demons and imps.

And in realizing that his going back and setting us on a different path would mean that we wouldn't spend a generation hiding in basements before finally succumbing to and worshiping the hosts of the fiery pit, he decided to have a bit of fun and "winked" at us to let us all know that yeah, he's pretty fucking awesome.

All the pieces fit and it makes sense if you think about it.
posted by quin at 11:50 AM on May 16, 2011


If that truly is an emoticon, then we suddenly have a number of things to consider. For one, after "Fellow-Citizens" we have a simple, lonely colon - but how do we know it doesn't actually represent a solitary pair of eyes, detached from any mouth? Two deep, staring orbs, mouthless and faceless, gazing upon the reader. Further, what of the commas? Are they not single, pairless, winking eyes? What are they winking at? Where's the other eye? These are all questions we must ask ourselves.

Most troubling of all, however, is the bracket-parentheses war. Why is the first note about audience reaction contained within parentheses, but the second within brackets? Truly disturbing.

This shit is fucked up.

;
posted by ORthey at 12:01 PM on May 16, 2011


I wasn't at all convinced. But then I noticed this in the Gettysburg address:

This sort of thing goes back even further than that:
HAMLET

He poisons him i' the garden for's estate. His
name's Gonzago: the story is extant, and writ in
choice Italian: you shall see anon how the murderer
gets the love of Gonzago's wife.

OPHELIA

The king rises.

KING CLAUDIUS

FFFUUUUUUU--

HAMLET

TROLLFACE.JPG
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:13 PM on May 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


Clearly nobody in the 1800s was smart enough or clever enough to see that ;) had a resemblance to a winking smile. They used to shit out in the WOODS for cryin' out loud. Nobody was smart, clever, creative or funny until the 1900s (Duchamp, if you must know, was the first).

You know the aliens built the pyramids? Dumb ancients couldn't engineer that, and a typesetter in the 1860s would never slip in a joke they might think was funny even if people didn't get it. Sheesh, he was probably barely literate.
posted by chimaera at 12:27 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Was Thomas Lowry on the team?
posted by nzero at 12:33 PM on May 16, 2011


It's a kraken.
posted by wayland at 1:08 PM on May 16, 2011


DUs comment explains a lot of the trouble I had coding web sites in the 1990s.
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:20 PM on May 16, 2011


I use parentheses A LOT. I'm really becoming a fan of the parenthesis/emoticon (like so :).

It's the new interrobang! With a freckle.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:32 PM on May 16, 2011


Clearly it was a typo. The reporter at the speech hit the wrong letter using his iPhone.
posted by dhartung at 1:35 PM on May 16, 2011


Btw, this came up after I clicked a link on that page and it became an issue: You can get around the NYT's "Payfence" simply pressing the "stop" button in your browser before it comes up. You might have to press it twice. If you don't get it in time just reload and try again.
posted by delmoi at 1:37 PM on May 16, 2011


It's possible that the typesetter might have decided to slip it in as a little joke, which would explain why he used parenthesis there and not square brackets. But why would he use the winking 'sly' smiley instead of the more common :). Btw, did a wink even indicate slyness or have the 'inside joke' meaning in the 1800s?

Anyway, I'm skeptical.
posted by delmoi at 1:42 PM on May 16, 2011


<(")
posted by Debaser626 at 1:48 PM on May 16, 2011


“My gut feeling is it wasn’t a typo.”

Science!
posted by oddman at 2:23 PM on May 16, 2011


But why would he use the winking 'sly' smiley instead of the more common :)

It's a typo. He meant to type srsly.
posted by ersatz at 2:38 PM on May 16, 2011


ORthey: "If that truly is an emoticon, then we suddenly have a number of things to consider. For one, after "Fellow-Citizens" we have a simple, lonely colon - but how do we know it doesn't actually represent a solitary pair of eyes, detached from any mouth? "

"Eyes without a face..."
posted by symbioid at 4:09 PM on May 16, 2011


hmmm. When I initially dismissed this, I didn't realize that every other aside is enclosed in brackets. Is there any explanation for why this particular one has parens?
posted by milestogo at 5:23 PM on May 16, 2011


If you click through to the full PDF in the article, you'll see another parenthetical aside in the same paragraph and at least two more in transcript of the speech.
posted by oddman at 7:57 PM on May 16, 2011


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