Nare Hakobyan investigates the new language of Emoji
Emoji could possibly be the language of the future but how did it come to be and why has it not faded away like other fads? It originally was created in Japan by DoCoMo, and became a tool to implement tone to text. Emoji stands for e – picture and emoji- character, so very literally it is a picture character. Emoji’s have become so popular amongst the younger generations because people are always on the go and in need to express a message quickly and effectively. The interesting thing about this new “language” is that it can be clever; it can be used for puns and jokes and to depict emotions that maybe a person cannot express with simple words.
Emoji may be a fast growing trend but will it really be considered a new language. Like pidgin (a grammatically simplified form of a language) it is used to communicate between people who do not share a common language. This can be interpreted in two ways. Firstly, by the fact that emotions are a language that can be considered universal and therefore Emoji is in fact a universal language. Secondly, by the fact that it can be related to pidgin by its “linguistic structural constraints”
These can be the standard use of connecting words to form sentences (e.g. in, the, as, by…) or in its difficulty identifying space and time. Saying that, Emoji’s are incredible in what kinds of things they can express or what meanings they may have but there is a limit to what can be said.
Even though Emoji is technically universal and can be used by anyone, each image may have a different meaning depending on the person sending or receiving it.
We see that there is a clear trend with the rate of usage of emoji’s through time. Its main market is social media, and because of its popularity both IOS and Android, two of the biggest phone companies, have implemented a keyboard specifically for Emojis which is radically different to the usual keyboards for other alphabets and languages.
The image above is actually a anti- drug campaign that targets teenagers and the idea behind it is to use a language that kids these days will understand and relate to.
For those of you who are puzzled the emoji’s above state “I want to fit in, but I don’t want to smoke.” This is a witty way to use this new language and takes advantage of its newness to deliver what may be seen as older more conservative messages. A new means of communication, it can make a commonly chilling thought or message into something understandable and easy-going. “We knew we wanted to be on a peer-to-peer level, so let’s do something in their language,” said Amanda Roberts, copywriter on the campaign.
This is a positive way to use emoji’s and to let it become an advantage but many believe that this generation of emoji use will deteriorate the spoken and written language.
As I am apart of this cultural movement I have first hand experience with using emoji’s. They allow you to convey a feeling or emotion in a very brief and simple manner. It can also depend on how and who you use emoji’s with. Everything has a meaning but who decides what it means, within my friend groups we use some emoji’s more than other to symbolize certain things or emphasize emotions. For example, I frequently embarrass myself and to express my embarrassment when telling the story to friend, instead of describing the feeling I chose to demonstrate it through image.
Languages always change and develop, its basic evolution but is emoji language really becoming that integrated in our lives. Emojis are similar to gestures, when an emoji is matched with some text it can emphasise the point of the message, likewise with speech, gestures help emphasise the meaning. The use of emoji’s can be to clarify the meaning of messages, it is said that a message can be misleading or misunderstanding if read in the wrong tone or context. Adding a wink face or kissy face or an angry face can be the element that establishes what exactly the message is implying. There is no fine line between emojis, you can be happy face or you can be sad face, there is no hiding between the lines.
It must be a bizarre concept to grasp for the older generations, that now there are so many new terms in social media but along side them are these little cartoons that can be used for an entire conversation. There is no reason to fear that the emoji language is destroying Standard English (or other languages) but what is significant is how to use it effectively. All that can be done at this point is to embrace the new language, as we cannot know how or if this phase will progress.
“Emoji—Trendy Slang or a Whole New Language?” Wired. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.
- Cohen, Neil. “Will Emoji Become a New Language?” BBC. 13 Oct. 2015. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.
- Mardsen, Rhodri. The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 10 May 2013. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.
- Williams, Owen. “Emoji Is Improving The Way We Communicate Online.” TNW Network All Stories RSS. 04 May 2015. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.
- “You Need to Speak Emoji to Understand This Anti-Drug Campaign.” AdWeek. 9 July 2015. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.