The study of emoticon use in text communication is in its early stages (Aragon, Feldman, Chen & Kroll, 2014), with even less known about how emoticons function in multilingual environments. We describe a preliminary longitudinal analysis of text communication in an online bilingual scientific work environment and demonstrate how patterns of emoticon use constitute a novel yet systematic nonverbal aspect of communication. Specifically, coordination over bilingual speakers entails reductions in emoticon diversity over time that are greater for those who communicate in their L2 than in their L1. An analogous but weaker pattern is evident for lexical diversity in L2 but not L1. We hypothesize that reductions in emoticon diversity in the L2 are likely to reflect social contributions to alignment rather than purely proficiency.
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