crosspost from LinguistList on kissing in texts

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 13 18:45:12 UTC 2009

>> ...research apprentice<<

Wow, like Harry Potter!  I thought that was just a story!  Here they're
called "assistants" or maybe "interns"

>>Is there a general consensus on where kissing originated from<<

Garden of Eden, possibly, but the venue soon changed.

Am impressed that you can take the XXX representation of kisses as far back
as 1763, which I now realize is further back than my personal experience
(1950s).  What is that 1763 source?  (I do know that my grandmother, a lady
from the Mauve Decade in the Big Apple, seemed to remember the practice from
her childhood.)

Also from childhood, I assumed that each "X" was supposed to represent a
puckered pair of lips, but that may be too fanciful.  (Or maybe XXX
represents some kind of rating. Were they originally confined to love

The question is an interesting one.


On Thu, Aug 13, 2009 at 1:49 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      crosspost from LinguistList on kissing in texts
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Someone on our list should be able to advise Mr. Griffiths on the
> history of kissing and telling.  Please send any suggestions to the
> original poster as well as to us.
> LH
> >
> >LINGUIST List: Vol-20-2759. Thu Aug 13 2009. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.
> >
> >Subject: 20.2759, Qs: Kissing in Texts and Letters
> >
> >
> >
> >-------------------------Message 1 ----------------------------------
> >Date: Thu, 13 Aug 2009 12:01:05
> >From: Hugo Griffiths [hugogriffiths at]
> >Subject: Kissing in Texts and Letters
> >
> >
> >
> >Dear Linguists,
> >
> >I am an English Literature and Language undergraduate at Winchester
> >University in the south of England, and have recently taken on the role of
> >a research apprentice. The project I have been working on has concerned
> >itself with SMS text messaging; we have been looking into such things as
> >tone, register phonetic spelling and many of the other facets found in
> >people's texts.
> >
> >One of the things we have been looking into more closely is the propensity
> >texters have to 'kiss'; that is to put an 'x' in single or multiple forms
> >in their messages. Obviously this is not something that is unique to
> >text-messages, kisses being present in letters, emails, tree trunks and
> the
> >like, but I was wondering if any of you kind linguists out there knew of
> >any research or theories that might take kisses into account.
> >
> >Is there a general consensus on where kissing originated from or when an
> >'x' first began to represent a kiss? Are there any languages other than
> >English that use them? There seems to be precious little discoverable
> >research out there on the subject. I have so far managed to ascertain that
> >they were used as far back as 1763, but other than this seem to have drawn
> >a blank. Can anyone shed any light on this for me?
> >
> >Your help is very much appreciated,
> >
> >Yours faithfully,
> >Hugo Griffiths
> >
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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