Emojis, the new language of the 21st century?
12, October 2017
Author: Kevin muyayaloHow are emojis simplifying communication?
After interviewing English teachers about this topic. I was able to deduce the most significant reason for this shift in communication preference.The most frequent response was that emojis possess the ability to effortlessly communicate complex human emotion that may not be easily described by words. As a result of this more people are growing fond of emojis because they make communication effortless and quicker.
Furthermore, it was found that people prefer to send short messages when texting. Emojis make this possible because they contain a great deal of information simply from their appearance. This persuades more people to use it instead of words because it is less time consuming and effective. Furthermore, emojis can be combined to communicate even more information which simplifies people lives even more, as shown in Figure1.
Figure1: Image showing emoji substitution for words
Furthermore, as a result of technology and its advancements people have more access to emojis and typing instead of writing by hand. Technological advancements have made it possible for the development ofkeyboards with emojis stamped next to the keyboard buttons, so the H button on the keyboard has also become the button for the face with tears of joy emoji, making it much simple for people to use and express themselves with.
Since late 1999 when the emojis were first introduced to smart devices, their usage has increased significantly this is because they have introduced a new aspect to communication as we know it, they have allowed us to communicate emotions via text messages and many more. Emoticons, a feature of popular communication apps of the 90’s such as MSN, Yahoo, and AOL Messenger are an even bigger part of our lives today.
[bookmark: ref393749]According to Henry Sweet, an English phonetician and language scholar “Language is the expression of ideas by means of speech-sounds combined into words. Words are combined into sentences, this combination answering to that of ideas into thoughts”. And according to American linguists Bernard Bloch and George L. “A language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates.”
Language is used to communicate personal thought and opinions on a certain topic or give instructions to another individual.
“Emoji(s) get picked up because they are so useful for enriching text with the kinds of things we might use our intonation or facial expressions to convey”,” said Tyler Schnoebelen, an executive at language data company Idibon, who has a Ph.D. in linguistics from Stanford.
Alternative usage of Emojis Dangers of emojis to communication
Emojis cause a risk to communication as they have ambiguous meanings, meaning that there are no specific words associated with them, therefore, can mean anything hence are likely to cause confusion which can lead to misinterpretation.
The best example for this is the eggplant emoji which is commonly misinterpreted as male genitalia. Another is the praying emoji which could be said mean praying hand gesture but millennials often see this symbol belonging to two different people giving each other a high five .as a result of this, emojis are confusing and ambiguous.
Moreover when emojis have used the tone of the message is lost leading to people not getting the full meaning. According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, 38% of human communication is through vocal elements such as tone. Meaning that understanding of a message is greatly affected by a lack of tone in the message
The birth of a new tongue?
Could an emerging “emoji visual language” be developing with actual grammatical structure? .Emoji are created by typing into a computer like words are. Does this mean that it could be considered a language in the future? Partly correct because it allows people are using it to express ideas not by speech but my visual images that could be combined to form longer messages just like the English language. However, they lack specific meaning to them which could lead to misinterpretation and confusion hence not as effective as words.
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Recently, emojis have been playing a huge role in the rectifying negative stereotypes. They have been addressing social and political issues that have been rampant in our current society. The best example for this is company Dove Hair which has created an emoji with 27 curly hair designs that represent various skin tones and hair colors this is in order to empower women who are insecure of their curly hair as well as to revoke dominant beauty standards that are unrealistic and unethical.
Figure2: Dove Hair’s emoji
[image: Image result for dove emoji android]
A professor of linguistics at the University of Toronto, Sali A. Tagliamonte, who partnered with Dove Hair on this launch has explained exactly how we feel when we use emojis, “emoji use is deeper than simple image, they are a symbol of self”, he even added “By using an emoji, a person can choose a picture that is in their own image, reflecting their style, personality, state of mind and even their looks. Just as language is like a badge of identity, so too are emojis”. [footnoteRef:1] [1: https://www.thesocialclinic.com/are-emojis-replacing-words/]
In an interview with the manager of Dove in Nairobi, he stated that the purpose of this emoji was to improve the self-esteem of women who lack it because they are now able to communicate to others using emojis that represent them instead of others. This further shows how emojis are encouraging people to communicate personal information that they would not usually communicate with words