From emoticon to emoji: How a new language was created

Before we start, let’s get this out the way - emoticons and emojis are not the same.

  • Emoticons are formed by using typographical marks, such as :) or ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Emojis are actual images, such as 🙂 or 🤷‍♀️

Since their birth in Japan back in 1999, emojis have exploded into text speech all around the world. From 😲 to 🎊, emojis can be used anywhere around the world to convey universal messages.

But what is it about emojis that makes them so addictive?

The use of emojis in text speech adds emotion to what you’re saying. How exciting!!! 😁 can quickly become sarcastic and negative just by switching the emoji to 😑. Displaying clear emotions is most definitely a large part of the usage of emojis, but not its singular purpose.

They’re also quite often used to soften sad news. “Sorry I can’t make it tonight, but have fun 👍”. Or they could be used to express yourself in a more comfortable way. “👁️ ❤️ you”. And finally, they can be used when words are just not enough. “I bought you a car” and the reply “😲”.  

Emojis help us express ourselves, but is it really enough to call it it’s own language?

Emojis may not have set rules like other languages, but there is a universal understanding of what most of them mean. Let's give this a go....

POP QUIZ: Can you guess what these emojis are referring to?

  1. 🌙🚶 (clue: dance)
  2. 🌹❤️1️⃣4️⃣ (clue: yearly event)
  3. 🏃🌲🌲🏃 (clue: film quote)
  4. 👶1️⃣➕⏰ (clue: song title)
  5. 👽🚲🌕👆 (clue: film)
  6. Can you guess the song below?

Did you get them? (answers at the end of this article) 

The textbook definition of a language is “a system of communication used by a particular country or community.” And that’s essentially what emojis are. However, you might be wondering if it’s possible to hold a conversation with just emojis. Well, we’re not far off.

With a few more years, who’s to say it won’t develop into a standalone language, maybe even taking over English (the official language in 70 countries) as the universal language of the world? 👤🌎

For example, did you know there are currently around 1.5 billion people who speak English and over 4 billion internet user - 92% of which use emojis?!!

Emojis may not be a fully fledged "language" just yet, but for how much longer can we say that? So the next time you use an emoji, whether it’s a 😉; 😍; or 😂- you may just be contributing to the birth of a new language. 😲


Pop Quiz Answers:

  1. Moonwalk
  2. Valentine's Day
  3. "Run Forrest, run"
  4. ...Baby one more time (Britney Spears)
  5. ET: The Extra Terrestrial
  6. Call Me Maybe (Carly Rae Jepsen)

We hope you ❤️this article? We'd love to know what you felt about emoji becoming an official language? Please do comment 👇