Translation Musings: Express yourself with emoji!

Jul 7, 2015 | Language, Miscellaneous, Musings

200px-Emblem-fun.svgHere in the office we are divided on the use of little smileys or emoji in our emails: some of us think that they are ok but others actually dislike them and find them silly. They might not be liked by everyone but there is no denying that these little pictures have become a part of our life. Some say there is even a new language emerging, the emoji language!You can express various feelings with these small images, so it would be logical to assume that the word emoji is short for “emotion”, however, this is not the case. Emoji comes from the Japanese 絵文字 (e-moji) that literally means “picture character”. Originally it was used to refer to any kind of pictogram, however, recently the word’s meaning has shifted and now it describes those funny little characters you can use in your emails and text messages.

The popularity of emoji has also aroused the attention of some linguists. One of the researchers who have started investigating the use of emoji is Professor Vyv Evans of Bangor University. He has found that 80% of the population in the UK are using emoji in their digital communication. According to his findings, 72% of young adults (18-25-year-olds) feel that adding these little pictures to their messages helps them express their thoughts and emotions and makes them better communicators.

It’s not surprising at all that they think this way, as just like gestures, facial expressions and intonation can aid verbal communication, emoji can add extra layers to our written digital messages. They can help clarify the meaning or add some further info.

In fact, they are so expressive that they can be used to convey complex messages. The BBC has actually started a fun weekly little quiz where the quiz takers can guess which of three headlines have been translated into emoji language. You can test your proficiency in emoji here.

Well, we haven’t been asked to provide an English to emoji translation yet but who knows what the future holds… 🙂

More on this story here.

Image credit: Seahen