Today, 17th July, marks ‘World Emoji Day’. Emojis, once solely used by millennials and younger generations as a way to express themselves and communicate, have now become a part of our wider daily communications.
Appearing in emails, marketing campaigns, art and even fashion, it appears there is no escaping the power of the emoji. The BBC were among the first to refer to the quirky symbols as a ‘language’ as they announced it as the fastest growing language, begging the question of whether we’ve almost gone full circle arriving back to the days of Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Whether you agree that emoji could be labelled as a ‘language’ or not, there’s no denying the power in it’s simplistic nature and ability to be able to be understood worldwide.
But how is emoji used globally? Are we all interpreting the symbols in the same way? And which emojis are favoured the most from country to country? Let’s find out!
It seems we’ve got a lot to laugh about in the UK, as in the US, Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia – with the laughing emoji being the most commonly used. In Australia, Canada, Germany, India and Sweden they’re partial to celebrating with the birthday cake emoji. The party continues into Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and Taiwan. Whilst France, Italy and Spain are traditionally continental with the kiss emoji being most popular.
So, whilst it seems a lot of us, internationally, are using the same emojis to communicate – are we using them to convey the same meaning?
The downside to using images or pictures to communicate, is that they do leave a lot up to the imagination of the user, and unfortunately the consistency of their design across different mobile phone carriers is not identical, which can lead to even more confusion during conversation.
YouGov decided to try and clear up some of the confusion, and carried out a survey asking users to interpret six different emojis. It’s worth noting that these are six of the more simplistic designs too! It’s clear to see how confusing these small characters can actually be.
Due to the Japanese origin of emoji – the word itself is derived from the Japanese E ‘picture’ and Moji ‘character’ – a great deal of the symbols actually are references from Japanese culture, which users from other countries might not understand or misinterpret. Some of the most commonly misinterpreted emojis can be found here.
How do you think emoji could be used as a language in the future? Could it make communication when travelling to foreign countries more straightforward? Or is there still too much room for confusion?