Did you Celebrate World Emoji Day?

I was thrilled and a little terrified  to be invited by the BBC Asia Pacific, based in Singapore to appear on their Breakfast TV show to talk about World Emoji Day – July 17th.

The BBC had seen my Mumbrella Article, Emojis: the emergence of a new visual language in which I had said that there is a ‘language of emoji’.

The question the BBC asked is: are emoji making people lazy?

The BBC interviewer asked me if emoji are making people lazy, because all anyone has to do is tap on a ready-made picture instead of thinking through what they want to communicate.

I said ‘no’. Here’s why.

Emoji are designed for fast communication

In life generally, if you only have a short amount of time to convey a message of some kind it is best to say it rather than write it. For example, I can speak the word ‘really’ to express surprise, doubt or astonishment by changing my tone of voice and facial expression. If that was all I wrote in a tweet or text, my meaning would be unclear.

Emoji make my meaning clearer:



Use words too

I could have just used the emoji on its own in that example but it is often clearer to use words too. New emoji are being created all the time to cover new ideas and situations so people need to learn what they mean. Some people are also giving new meanings to existing emoji. According to this article Chinese people mean something very different when they send you a smiley emoji,  This emoji:  (‘slightly smiling face’) can mean ‘ a despising, mocking, and even obnoxious attitude.  My advice – use words too to make sure you are saying what you think you are saying.


* if you were worrying about emoji and punctuation, here is the answer.





Tags: Semiotics, Linguistics, emoji