At the extreme and unhelpful end of the tendency to shorter ways to communicate in English are 'emoticons'. This is an intriguingly new and still evolving linguistic trend which tends to delight, annoy, or puzzle us in the emails we receive.

Possibly you have seen graphics showing emoticons as they are symbols which can be found displayed in dictionaries published since 2000 CE. 'Emoticon', a word formed by blend of the words 'emotion' and 'icon' is an arrangement of keyboard characters, which are intended to be viewed sideways as symbolic pictures conveying emotions, for example, 'faces' that look happy, sad, shocked, bored, or scared. None of these are in common use and at this time do not belong in professional correspondence.

The list of such oddities has been further expanded to include acronyms for a large number of phases: 'CUS' for 'see you soon' or 'IMHO' for 'in my humble opinion'. These are of even less value and less understood than emoticons and highly unlikely to be helpful or amusing outside an extremely small circle of friends. Please do not use them in international communication.

Keep sensitive to changes that occur in the Internet correspondence you receive, evaluate who the author is, and choose the models you follow with care. Some styles are at present overly casual and you should be hesitant about imitating them. However, stay alert because what is acceptable is changing all the time.

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

- Shakespeare MacBeth Act IV, scene i

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