At the end of 2015, for the first time Oxford Dictionaries declared its word of the year as, wait for it, not a word, but an emoji. Yes that’s right, the face with tears of joy emoji in fact! It seems words cannot express happiness quite like an emoji.
The decision to select a pictograph for its coveted top spot was controversial to say the least. But the selection of an emoji is merely a reflection of cultural development and trends in the way we communicate. Emojis are now part of our communicative fabric and have become so popular we use them to convey a myriad of emotions and thoughts. They’ve even developed their own trends and stories.
The emoji wasn’t selected at random. In 2015, leading mobile technology business Swiftkey identified the face with tears of joy icon was the most used emoji globally and made up to 20% of all the emoji used in the UK, a 4% increase on 2014.
And after all, the definition of “word” is fairly broad. The first of a few definitions describes it as:
“A single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed.”
So the tears of joy emoji certainly fits this criteria.
This didn’t stop Twitter users airing their displeasure, and several users pointed out it may have been a PR stunt by Oxford Dictionaries.
But whether it was a PR stunt or not, you can’t deny the emergence of this powerful form of speech which is increasingly being used to convey messages that transcend the boundaries of language.
And now, thanks to the new Apple update, there are even more ways to convey how we’re feeling with the addition of 150 brand new emojis including the eagerly anticipated unicorn, cheese wedge and champagne glass, each essential to our vocab, obvs.
Here are just some of the new emojis we can expect in 2016:
Left-facing fist, Right-facing fist, Handshake, Fingers crossed, Pregnant woman, Facepalm, Shrug, Man dancing, Prince, Man in tux, Mother Christmas, Wilted rose, Scooter, Motor scooter, Octagonal sign, Clinking champagne glasses, Black heart, Croissant, Avocado, Cucumber, Bacon, Potato, Carrot, Fox face, Eagle, Duck, Bat, Shark, Owl.
What do you think of the decision to crown an emoji as the word of 2015? Does selecting an emoji signal a death to language, or are you?
Last year here at Faith we celebrated national emoji day by tweeting selfies of our favourite emojis.
Which emoji are you most excited about in 2016?15th January 2016