The New Media Institute (NMI) is a research and fact finding organization whose mission is to improve public understanding of issues surrounding the Internet and other forms new media communications. NMI works directly with the news media, researchers, academics, government and industry professionals and serves as a primary resource of facts, statistics and analysis.

Emoji as Language, Code, Communication: No Longer a Cute Embellishment

Over time a myriad of communication methodologies or “languages” have developed. There was an assortment of glyph symbols from many ancient cultures around the world. Then written languages with various alphabets were developed. Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian languages began as pictographs. Arabic, Persian (or Farsee), etc. evolved from the earlier Semitic languages of the Middle East (too numerous to list). Of course there were Greek and Latin which served as roots for many of today’s modern languages, and of course there are many other languages I haven’t mentioned.


Communication and language are the center of human society,. Without communication and language there really isn’t a functioning community. Consequently, throughout history language was adapted into codes in an effort to make written language more secretive for whatever reason. Naturally, the concepts of codes evolved into creative, highly sophisticated and devious as our minds expanded and life grew exceedingly complex. Ultimately, the perception of communication continues to progress, advance and improve.


This all brings us to our topic Emoji, which Google describes as “a small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communication.” Aha, emoji is a new form of pictographs. The New York Times Magazine summed up the emoji as a secret code/ language composed of symbols in lieu of words.  The Rapid Evolution of Emoji, a Wordless Tongue  pointed out that a great deal of communication is non-verbal and that emoji


Wikipedia defined Emoji as “pictures originally found on Japanese mobile devices and Emoji (絵文字(えもじ)?, Japanese pronunciation: [emodʑi]) are ideograms and smileys used in electronic messages and Web pages. The characters, which are really emoticons or kaomoji that are present in various kinds in various genres, including facial expressions, common objects, places and types of weather, and animals. The era of the emoji is very recent and occurred when Apple's OS X operating system supports emoji as of version 10.7 (Lion).[4] Microsoft added monochrome Unicode emoji coverage to the Segoe UI Symbol system font in Windows 8 and added color emoji in Windows 8.1 via the Segoe UI Emoji font.


The questions that come to my mind are this:

Is Emoji a passing trend? Is it a wild phenomenon?  Will it forever impact our lives or is it much ado about very little? I don’t know and I will avoid the controversy by adding that any answer depends on who you ask. What I do know is that emoji does seem to be fun to explore and that an awful lot of people have spent a great deal of time invested in the Emoji genre.


My exploration found many interesting sites. Some sites were cute, some were bland, some took themselves awfully serious, some were matter of fact and some were incredibly intricate. For example, Emojipedia is dedicated to emoji meanings. is a broader service site that provides definitions, conversions and Tweet with Emoj.  It even has a cheat sheet for other services such as GitHub, Basecamp and other services


I found the concept of the Emoji Bible fascinating. If you are at all interested, read the June 7, 2016 review in The Emoji Bible, Reviewed   article in The Atlantic . It seems that the Emoji Bible  began as a public project on Twitter and followed an extraordinary path.


Clearly the international press has written many stories about how emoji has jad a communications impact on modern society. The Daily Monitior  Is just one of many that wrote about emoji changing our mode of communications.


I’ve mentioned that emotions are an integral component of emoji. Emoji characters may seem insignificant, but they are growing in popularity at a breakneck speed.  Perhaps the huge assortment of expressive images provides a new way for people to communicate emotions with uncomplicated symbols. How to Use Emoticons and Emojis in Business Communication is another interesting site. It places an emphasis on using non-verbal comminications for business practices.

Finally, I’d like to point out a good example of the emoji usage. This tackles a highly charged issue through emoji communication. The site allows you to download a custom keyboard. It includes such elements as the sense of emotion (kindness) and a campaign to stop bullying. The campaign itself includes help with symbol connotation. Copying and pasting the symbols. emoji symbols meaning Snapchat, for iPhone, and an emoji translator. In other words, an important social and behavioral issue is tackled through the emoji non-verbal ling.

Emoji is not just a smiley face. It appears to take on all of the human emotions we express in daily life. Apparently it can even tackle serious social issues. I guess that anything is possible.

Comments (0)

Post a Comment
* Your Name:
* Your Email:
(not publicly displayed)
Reply Notification:
* Security Image:
Security Image Generate new
Copy the numbers and letters from the security image:
* Message:

Sign Up for New Media Updates