‘Emoji’ Gone Wild; Fad, or Digital Language of the Future: Telling Stories with String of Symbols– 21st Century Hieroglyphs…

Emoji: Sometimes when you are at loss for words, a facial expression says it all. The digital counterpart of humanistic self-expression is emoji… Emoji is a Japanese based coding program, which literally means; ‘picture’ + ‘letter’, has successfully integrated onto billions of smart phones worldwide, features colorful, animated pictures that can be inserted into texts and emails…

You’re probably familiar with the bright yellow smiling, winking and frowning faces that seem to follow every text message these days. But, you might not be aware there are more than 1,500 to choose from. Designed to symbolize everyday objects, expressions and ideas, they’re expressive enough to act as stand-ins for words or entire phrases. Their colorful, eye-catching designs have propelled them to pop-culture fame…

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According to Alaina Raftis; Napoleon Bonaparte is quoted as saying; ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’… If true, what is the purpose of the written word, especially as technology like Emoji sweep across the cyber-sphere? Are these colorful, animated pictures adding more meaning to their accompanied text, or are they altogether replacing the written word?

In era when younger generations are increasingly being brought up using Internet, social media… where they post no more than 144 characters in a tweet, and use photo sharing applications that more than often don’t incorporate text; hence, a serious question needs to be asked: Will pictures such as,  emoji, replace written words as people grow more in favor of the art of non-definitive icons, or are the use of these images just a fad?

According to Fred Benenson; four years ago he used Crowdsourcing to hire people to translate the first chapter of Moby-Dick into emoji… at which time he became convinced that it was only a matter of time before everyone would start to use emoji, and sure enough by 2013, emoji is everywhere. The first sentence of Melville’s classic: ‘Call me Ishmael’ became:    

emoji11Emoji, for all its detractors, is really about embellishment and added context; it’s about in-jokes, playfulness, emphasizing ones praise and  cushioning impact of criticism, of provoking thought and exercising the imagination. According to Rhodri Marsden; telling stories, movie recaps, expressing complex emotion – it’s partially about the frivolity, but it’s also about engaging a part of your brain which uses symbolic and visual thinking, something that I love to do. I also think it has the potential to bridge language barriers…

According to Michael Andor Brodeur; whether your incessant texting is pulling language apart or pushing it forward (or a little of both) is a debate unlikely to be settled soon… Language is always changing, even as the needs and desires it expresses stay the same… According to Motoko Tamamuro; we tend to imply things instead of explicitly expressing them, so sensing people’s moods is very important. We take extra care to consider other people’s feelings when writing correspondence, and that’s why emoji became so useful in email and text – to introduce more feeling into a brevities form of communication…

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In the article Appeal Of Emoji: They Don’t Say Anything by Bianca Bosker writes: The growing popularity of this cutesy communication is usually attributed to difficulty people have conveying emotion and nuance via quickly typed text. But emoji, and their ilk, are more than elaborate punctuation marks and part of the appeal is precisely their indefinite meaning. They’re a way to say something when you really don’t have anything to say, it’s a digital alter ego that establishes a virtual presence with another person, without any specific purpose besides– just ‘Hi’…

Using emoji, in a sense, is like hanging out online… In the past year, funny faces, clinking beer mugs, adorable chicken legs and other illustrations have become virtually omnipresent online… My Instagram feed frequently has more emoji than photos: Snapshots are captioned with a sprinkling of emoji that range from mundane to the poetic…

As we continue communicating more consistently with more people, in more places, we’ve turned to images as a way to transpose some offline customs, like comfortable silences between friends, into the online realm. According to Mimi Ito; explains that while email and desktop correspondence tends to be focused on completing a set task, a great deal of mobile communication — given how frequently we have our hands on our phones — is about sharing a ‘ambient state of being…

Emoji are like a smile from colleague across the room, or small talk you make walking to get coffee: It’s pointless communication that nonetheless puts you in a good mood… Part of the reason the volume of text messaging is so high because lot of exchange is just small talk, e.g.; this is what I’m doing, this is what I’m feeling,’ which is transmitting, ‘I’m here with you, I’m connected to you, people often like to feel like they’re inhabiting the same space as each other… Emoji and emoticons are really good for conveying that kind of thing…

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In the article Is Future of Language Emoji? by Hayley writes: There is no arguing the Internet has made the world a smaller place, but it is also shaping the language we speak. In fact, the future of languages may have far more in common with the writing styles of the past than how we write today… According to Lauren Hockenson; with all different languages, writing scripts and dialects being used, emoji is the one common form of communication everyone can understand. In fact, this may also explain the rising popularity of photo sharing sites…

Thanks to emoji, even if a Tweet or status is written in an unfamiliar language or even an unfamiliar script, any reader can understand the basic tone… However, with the rise in popularity of emoji, is written language regressing? After all, the oldest forms of writing were based around pictographs. The earliest marks left by mankind – pictures etched on cave walls – used images to represent what we would now use written words to describe, such as a group of men hunting. Much later, ancient Egyptians created hieroglyphs; a writing system built around picture-style images…

When it comes to knocking down language barriers, pictographs are arguably the easiest way to do it. It doesn’t matter what a person’s mother tongue is, everyone understands what the symbol for men’s or women’s toilets means. In the same way, emoji is a truly international language…

In the article Emoji May Be The Language of the Future in Business by dearestleader writes: Go into most warehouse or assembly lines staffed increasingly by workers diversity, and you will find less than perfect written and spoken English… A well-known SciFi writer has created a world, in the future, where English and Mandarin are the official languages of the human race. What if that isn’t the case?

What if a new abbreviated language such as the one teenagers use for texting is the unified language of the world? What if we become like Ancient Egyptians and move to a hieroglyphic language to be all-inclusive? This is where emoji may fit in. The old view of business is dying out as the ‘baby boomers’ retire from the workforce… There are also many people in GenX and GenY who will hire subject matter experts, no matter their fluency in English…

If we can communicate in the made-up language of Chinglish, why not communicate using other ways? The only thing holding you back is an outdated mentality of thinking about something that’s done a certain way, rather than just something that has to be done…

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The emoji has come a long way from its origins as a cute footnote to text messages. According to Alex Clark; emoji is growing in complexity all the time… A single emoji just doesn’t cut mustard any more, no matter how vigorous its expression, for example; not when you can get cats with hearts for eyes, Roswell aliens, flamenco dancers, lavatories and cable cars…

These more highly developed version of early emoticons, e.g.; the 🙂 and 🙁  built from ASCII characters and used in texts, emails… and have opened-up serious new possibilities: Savvy, inventive people are now sending entire communications in emoji, and artfully stringing together expressive little ‘things’… and, all in 144 pixels per symbol… However, emoji raises some interesting questions, e.g.: What habits of daily life do emoji promote? What behavior do they normalize?

The historical line connecting the smiley face to emoji is crooked but revealing, featuring as it does this same sentiment repeated again and again: the road to bottom-line runs through commodification of emotion… According to Murray Spain; I was one of the entrepreneurs who, in the early 1970s, placed a copyright on the ‘smiley face’ with the phrase; ‘Have a nice day’… and the intent was capitalistic, i.e., our only desire was to make a buck…

Emoji offer a means of communicating that we did have before: they humanize the platforms we inhabit. As such, they are a rear-guard action to enable sociality in digital networks, yet are also agents in turning emotions into economic value. As a blip in the continuing evolution of platform languages, emoji may be remembered as a fading digital companion, or as the true international language of the future…