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04 Jul Emojis: A New Global Language

The other day, one of our colleagues was binge-watching tearjerker movies. We were chatting about the movie on our team group chat, she described her feelings, and her over-all impression about it with nothing but lots of faces showing different expressions and a bunch of hearts. The movie seemed to serve its purpose by making her laugh at first, then cried for a while but loved it nonetheless. All her reactions were described through the famous ‘emojis’.

The word emoji comes from the Japanese e (絵, “picture”) + moji (文字, “character”).

With the emergence of emojis, the different ways we communicate and decipher messages have been redefined. How did emojis come about? Thousands of years ago, cave paintings, rock arts, petroglyphs and pictograms from the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt were used to communicate an idea or thought. In 1999, Shigetaka Kurita from Japan created the first prototypes of emojis. Then the Japanese mobile industry improvised it for its teenage audience. They were once called ‘emoticons’ available in chat rooms like Yahoo Messenger, MSN and AOL.

Due to the development of electronic and mobile messaging, the emojis became more known to the rest of the world. Back then, our emojis looked nothing like the yellow faces we see now. Emojis can be formed by combining characters like “:” + “-“ + “(” to show that “:-(” sad face, or a “;” for a “;-)” wink face. Even today, the arrangement of specific punctuations is still used to create new emoji faces or symbols.

There’s an Emoji for Everyone & Everything

Emojis have revolutionized our digital communication. Commonly used in social media and private messaging, the way thoughts and feelings are presented can be easily replaced with symbols and pictures. A simple “I love you” can be rewritten to “I heart you heart eyes  kiss face

To some extent, emojis can be regarded as a global language. People from around the world can use relatable, relevant and descriptive emojis, such as:

wave boy boyamer

wave girlfil phil

An Undeniably Influential Trend

Every time we get used to a new trend, we underestimate how much impact it has on our daily lives. When was the last time you didn’t use an emoji in any of your messages, for one whole day? The majority of the Generations Y & Z – true emoji believers – would probably not remember. Emojis are also growing in popularity with the Generation X and Baby Boomers, mainly due to their expressive faces that makes it so much easier to explain reactions and feelings.

We can’t deny it, emojis are part of our daily interactions and play a major role in the evolution of our communication. It’s no wonder, we’re in a time where raw, quick, easy, visual content is golden. We replace words with images for quick understanding and we share our reaction to something on social media and appreciate the feedback, which also comes as an emoji.

You know it’s popular when it gets into the Oxford Dictionary…

Oxford Dictionaries 2015 Word of the Year was not actually a word but a pictograph: tears of joy(Face with Tears of Joy). So what are the criteria for a word, or in this case a pictograph? The word needs to be used in many different sources by different people to become a ‘candidate’. Those who are the most significant, relevant and long-term make it to the final edition. It’s not surprising, according to Wired, the Tears of Joy was the most tweeted emoji (6.6 billion times!) in 2015, and holds first place for the most used pictograph in the US (17% of all emojis).

Are Emojis the Future of Communication?

As much as we love emojis, and their ability to make an online conversation more engaging and filled with emotions, we are limited as the meaning can, in some cases, be misinterpreted. Emojis lack grammar and certain words still don’t have their own pictograph yet (boohoo). Their future? We can expect more choice and more platforms to use emojis. Potentially an emoji dictionary with a pictograph for every word? And maybe one day, they will come to life?

End note: let’s have a thought for all the emojis that are very rarely (meaning, never) used…

emoji5 Credit: Emojipedia

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