The language today

Emojis: the current economy of language

Since the Rosetta stone was discovered in 1799, 23 years passed before the method of reading Egyptian hieroglyphs was deciphered, mainly thanks to the studies carried out by Thomas Young, an English linguist and Jean-François Champollion, a French historian.

Similarities between ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and the emojis of the digital age are evident. However, their differences are remarkable: Hieroglyphs were a complete language represented in a writing system of strict rules. Although an illiterate person can understand some basic symbols, a high skill level is required to handle them fully.

Emojis, on the other hand, were born under the auspices of digital messages on social networks, and here, the economy of language takes precedence. Emojis are the evolution of emoticons. The origin of the latest word comes from an acronym for the terms emotion and icon. Emoticons are, as their name indicates, iconic representations that complement written texts, adding nuances or complicities in the language.

Write with images 😎 😏

In a written conversation, intonation, and everything that non-verbal communication provides disappears. Although emoticons are characteristic elements of written language, they bring those who use them closer to orality. It gives a hybrid communication style to the written communication of digital messaging. The emojis can be attributed to a change in intonation, the volume of the voice, a facial gesture, or a particular movement of the body. In short, these actions are typical of the field of study of pragmatic linguistics, which, if it were not for the emoticons, would not be present in the chat conversation.

An emoji is a wild card in written conversation since it easily and quickly explains the sender’s intention and often breaks the ice or removes the apparent abruptness of what is said in words. You can indicate that you are exhausted 😴 without having to say it by writing many words. Hyperbole can be expressed, such as being “red with anger” 😡, “being about to explode” 🤯 or “freezing to death” 🥶.

With an emoticon, we can ask for discretion 🤫, express sadness 😞, empathy 🙏, etc. In short, images economise, and at the same time enhance, the expressive function of language. They give it flavour and an essential cultural load.

History of emojis

In 1844, Morse code was used as a telegraphic communication system for the first time. What does that have to do with emojis?!, you might ask. Well, now comes the interesting detail: it turns out that, in 1857, that is, 13 years after this code began to be used, the National Telegraphic Review and Operators Guide documented that the number 73 of the code started to be employed to express “love and kisses” and then led to something more formal like “kind regards” or “best wishes.” Many radio operators say “73” at the end of a friendly call precisely since, in that context, it is currently a close way of saying goodbye or saying thank you.

World Emoji Day

As a result of all the communication commotion that emojis have caused in the digital age, in 2010, a curious holiday arose called Emoji Day. Since that year, World Emoji Day has been celebrated every July 17. This day was chosen because the first 176 emojis were created in 1999. Today, the Unicode consortium (made up of Apple, Microsoft, Google, and IBM) oversees creating new emojis.

If you dare, you should know that anyone can submit a proposal to create a new emoticon, but it is a challenge. It must meet formal requirements and demonstrate that the image will have an expected level of use. So now you know, if you want to brag that incorporating a new emoticon was thanks to your management, observe your surroundings and play, we all support you here! 😉

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