The Pragmatic Functions of the tilde “~” in China’s Social Media among Youth Groups
China defines “~” (tilde, the wave sign) as punctuation, which serves as a grammar marker. However, as social media becomes popular in people’s daily life, the wave sign acquires another pragmatic meaning and function. Although this change is obvious, few studies have been conducted for a further view. This paper aims to explore the pragmatic meaning and function of “~” beyond its punctuation usage. With a qualitative and quantitative study, it’s found that the tilde “~” is usually popular among a specific group in social media, while it is widely used on both formal and informal occasions. Also, according to Searle’s illocutionary speech acts theory, it’s found that the tilde “~” is mainly used in three speech acts, which are directive speech acts, expressive speech acts, and representative speech acts, respectively. In this paper, the tilde “~” could be considered as a marker from the perspective of its functions: 1) it’s a symbol in multimodal communication that is capable of producing synaesthesia of visual and auditory; 2) it is usually a positive marker hinting a kind of pleasure emotion comparing with other punctuations; 3) it can be a tone modifier mitigating or enhancing the tone of an utterance. This study indicates that a small sign like “~” may enhance the effectiveness of language expression in social media and the need to embrace the dynamic and variety of language study.