Digital media and millennials got a boost of credibility from one of the world’s most traditional sources recently. In a stunning decision, for the first time ever, the editorial staff of the Oxford Dictionary has decided to add an emoji as the word of the year in lieu of any text-based utterance. The officialname of that emoji is the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ and it was a pretty easy decision for the editors to make because the main factor in deciding which utterances should become official words of the English language always boils down to usage within the cultural vernacular – and there is no doubt that the use of emojis in general, and this one specifically, have grown exponentially in recent years according to Oxford Dictionary.
“This year Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and the Face With Tears of Joy emoji was chosen because it was the most frequently used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that Face With Tears of Joy made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014. The word emoji has seen a similar surge: although it has been found in English since 1997, usage more than tripled in 2015 over the previous year according to data from the Oxford Dictionaries Corpus.”
Rick Moby of EmojiOne.com saw this recognition as a welcome, albeit belated acknowledgement of image based communication. “Pictographic text is not something new” said Rick Moby of EmojiOne.com, “It dates back to Egyptian hieroglyphs and the earliest paintings on cave walls by our ancestors. So, while it’s great that emojis continue to gain mainstream support, the idea that the Oxford Dictionary now sanctions them as words isn’t really all that important, unless you are trying to impress your grandmother by scoring a million points in Scrabble using ‘FaceWithTearsofJoy’, which would probably make her smile with tears of joy ironically.”
Are we far off from entire conversations being constructed with emoji? Can marketers cash in on this new entirely digital language? The rapid growth of the medium and easy of adoption by millennials (who now represent the single largest segment of population in the United States) all seems to suggest pictographic text is on the right track.