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article imagePopular emoji crowned word of the year

By Georgia Williams     Nov 18, 2015 in Internet
They say an image is worth 1,000 words, so it seems appropriate that the Oxford Dictionary word of the year for 2015 isn’t a word at all, and instead an emoji.
In a move that would probably cause George Orwell to roll over in his grave, the dictionary maker announced on Monday that this year’s word of the year was the "Face with Tears of Joy" emoji.
Emojis have come a long way since they were first introduced in the late 1990s and were popular on instant messaging platforms. Also known as pictographs, the small emotion-filled icons have exploded in popularity over the last couple years, culminating in their mainstream use in 2015.
“Although emoji have been a staple of texting teens for some time, emoji culture exploded into the global mainstream over the past year,” the dictionary manufacturer wrote in a press release. “Emoji have come to embody a core aspect of living in a digital world that is visually driven, emotionally expressive, and obsessively immediate.”
The crowning of an emoji as word of the year came after Oxford solicited leading mobile technology experts, SwiftKey to gauge the frequency and usage statistics for the world's most prevalent emoji. The tech company quickly found that the "Face with Tears of Joy" emoji is by far the most popular.
“SwiftKey identified that, 'Face with Tears of Joy' made up 20 per cent of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17 per cent of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4 per cent and 9 per cent respectively in 2014,” said the Oxford Dictionary website.
The word experts explained that even the word emoji is representative of our shifting multi-culture influencers. “The term emoji is a loanword from Japanese, and comes from e ‘picture’ + moji ‘letter, character’.” Emojis seem to be a natural progression from emoticons which are defined as a facial expression (emotion icons) composed of keyboard characters.
In a world that is becoming increasingly borderless, especially when it comes to the web, emojis are a universal, easy-to-understand language. “Emoji are becoming an increasingly rich form of communication, one that transcends linguistic borders,” Caspar Grathwohl, the president of Oxford Dictionaries said in an official statement.
National Post reporter and frequent word user Rebecca Tucker sees emojis as a way to express emotion over a digital platform that previously was unable to. “Online communication has always fallen short in its capacity for conveying nuance — this is why emojis exist in the first place, and why we’ve become so comfortable using them,” she wrote in a National Post article earlier this week. “Not only do they convey a message that transcends the boundaries of language, but they challenge us to utilize our capacity for translating non-linguistic signals and emotional cues.”
Despite the popular emoji being named word of the year, actual words were also close contenders. "On fleek," referring to someone’s appearance, was one of the most popular short list nominees. Other words that were considered were, Ad Blocker, Refugee, They, Dark Web, Sharing Economy, Brexit and Lumbersexual.
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