Peaches and eggplants or. . . something else? The role of context in emoji interpretations

Benjamin Weissman


This paper presents the results of an experiment designed to measure interpretations of two emojis oft-discussed in popular culture, the eggplant and the peach. The experiment asked people to judge how sexual an emoji-containing text message was. The context surrounding these messages was manipulated across experimental conditions, altering both the preceding discourse and the presence of a sentence-final wink emoji. Unsurprisingly, the baseline interpretation of both the eggplant and peach emoji is euphemism. When one of these emojis is used in a context that strongly biases towards the non-euphemistic interpretation, ratings for sexualness decrease and variability increases. This suggests that participants are still able to access non-euphemistic interpretations of these emojis, but it must be under specific circumstances and will nonetheless come with a high degree of variability. Wink emojis added to messages containing non-euphemistic food emojis were also rated as more highly sexual (albeit still low on the rating scale), indicating an affective role for this emoji.


emojis; euphemism; figurative language; pragmatics

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Copyright (c) 2019 Benjamin Weissman

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