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Summary Details

Query:   Kissing in Letters and Texts
Author:  Hugo Griffiths
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Historical Linguistics
Language Documentation

Summary:   The posting I placed asking for help with my research into the use of x’s
to represent kisses in SMS texting and other sources prompted a generous
and wide ranging response. I would like to offer my thanks to all those who
took the time out to offer their help. Below is a summary of observations,
which I hope will be of interest to others:

- in Spain besos’ is written at the end of letters, but not substituted in
texts with an ‘x’ (Professor Laura Callahan)

- integration of x’s and other similar symbols into the roots of a new set
of linguistic laws (Tienzen Gong)

- the custom amongst the Dutch to offer x’s as kisses at the end of
correspondence with those one is close to (Liv Persson)

- in France multiple x’s are added at the end of letters when signing of
‘bisoux’ (kisses) (Professor Philip Carr)

- in Spanish and French x’ing is rare, and only present in those who have
stayed or were staying in England (Damien Hall)

- the popular Dutch habit of placing three kisses (xxx) in correspondence
springs from the three kisses one gives people on their cheeks (left, then
right, then left) as a greeting (Lyda Fens-de Zeeuw)

- the use of x’s to represent kisses can trace its roots back to the Hebrew
tradition of reversing taboo words: ‘to kiss’ being ‘nun-shin-kuf NaSHaK’,
then on to the Greek Kyssai, to the KS sound, then on to the sound made by
the letter ‘x’ (Izzy Cohen)

- in German those who wish to will draw a little circle with a dot in it to
represent a kiss, and in electronic correspondence use an asterisk instead
(Dr. Nora Wiedenmann); x’s are for kissed in German (Gordon Martin)

- in pre-revolutionary Russia illiterate people used an ‘x’ to represent
their signature (Oksana Pervezentseva)

- the habit of using an ‘x’ for a kiss does not seem to be in popular usage
in Indonesia (Myles Dakan)

Thank you also to

Professor Laurence Horn for his crossposting of my plea to the American
Dialectic Society’s list, and to those who subsequently posted on this.

Professor Eliza Kitis for pointing me in the direction of the research of
Jannis Androutsopoulos’ work at King’s College, London.

Tamer El-Masry, for sourcing and forwarding to me an article I had not
found on the subject, and reiterating that possibility of there being a
phonetic and onomatopoeic link between the sound an ‘x’ makes when
articulated, and the sound of a kiss.

Thank you to all of those who took the time and trouble to respond to my
query. If I have failed to include anyone, or missed out any key points in
my summary, than I earnestly apologise. I shall continue my investigations
into the subject, and would be interested in any further comments in the

LL Issue: 20.2889
Date Posted: 26-Aug-2009
Original Query: Read original query


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