Emojis: annoying symbol or emerging language?

The emoticon or ‘emoji’ (meaning picture character in Japanese) has recently been elevated in status from mere entertaining image, to language. Sam Wallman has created an interesting webcomic for the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne Australia, discussing whether the emoji is a legitimate form of language. Whether you love them or hate them it seems the emoji continues to grow in popularity, and prominence.

Many notable figures, companies and even libraries are jumping on the emoji bandwagon. Apple has expanded the emoji line to include more ethnically diverse characters after popular demand. Australian politician Julie Bishop recently did an ‘all emoji’ interview, landing her in some hot water, while American politician Hillary Clinton’s recent attempt to use emoji’s on Twitter seems to have also backfired. The Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2015 was, for the first time ever, the emoji – ‘face with tears of joy’. This being the most used emoji globally in 2015, and “the ‘word’ that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.”

But it doesn’t stop there. Fred Benenson has used the website Kickstarter to fund the creation of the first emoji novel – Emoji Dick’. Every sentence of the original Moby Dick novel has been matched with its emoji equivalent. The novel has even been acquired by the Library of Congress. Not to be left behind, many libraries and websites have been taking advantage of the emoji trend by playing ‘Guess the Book Title’. You can try your hand at the Cockburn Libraries webpage, or the Readings webpage. It’s harder than you think!


Michelle DeAizpurua, ILN Content Officer

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