It was revealed this week that Britain has a new fastest-growing language being used by increasing numbers of people – emoji. It’s not a language as such, but just about every message that gets sent by mobile phone, email or social media includes some kind of smiley face, symbol or other animation which has its own meaning.
Professor Vyv Evans of Bangor University in Wales has just undertaken a study into the growing use of the animated language in modern society and communication, and found that it is now being adopted faster than any other language in the whole of the UK – and that it has eclipsed the ancient Egyptian visual language of hieroglyphics.
In addition to this, a survey by mobile phone and Internet provider TalkTalk revealed that 72% of 18 to 25 year olds found it easier to put their feelings into messages in emoji form than typed English (or other traditional verbal languages).
The term ‘emoji’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary back in 2013 and literally translates as picture and character from Japanese. Such has been the uptake in the form of communication, Apple, the creators of the global phenomenon that is the iPhone, had to update its existing emoji keyboard settings to include a more diverse range of characters to cope with demand from users around the world.
We’re using it just about everywhere, from text messages to our friends and family to signing off emails and, of course, using them in chat rooms and live instant messaging platforms. Gaming sites like the online bingo sites you find on www.greatbritishbingo.co.uk and social networks all have live chat features allowing people to talk over the web rather than through their phones.
They’ve had to ensure that their platforms cater for the use of emojis and even video in some cases because people are using progressively fewer words. Despite this, many of us are apparently using them in completely the wrong situation, believing that they mean one thing when in fact they refer to something completely different!
For example, it’s been said by the Unicode Consortium who define the terms, that the closed hands emoji – which is used by many to signify a high five, is in fact meant to refer to prayer or the method of closing your hands and bowing to say thank you. The latest list of definitions in full is set to published later this year.
The use of emoji goes someway towards explaining the way we live our lives in 2015. People use mobile devices and a combination of WiFi and 3G connectivity to do things wherever they are, right then, rather than waiting to use a desktop or laptop when they arrive home.
The world is changing and things are happening 24/7 that everyone wants to either know about, deal with or react to in real time and the use of emojis, in some ways, saves them time and adds the element of fun to an otherwise mundane message.