Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015 is not a word. For the first time ever, it’s an emoji – specifically it’s this , officially known as the Face with Tears of Joy emoji.
Back in the ‘90s, when kids all started text-talking to try and squeeze more words into their character-limited text messages, there was uproar at the death of the English language. Of course, that wasn’t the end of the written word. But what about now, when a picture is Word of the Year?
Is there any need for words?
We hope so, here at The Lowdown we write words for a living – it’ll take a lot of learning to switch to emoji-only. But just look at this person singing Christmas songs, it makes you wonder:
If you don’t know what you’re doing, however, emojis don’t always work out so well:
How did emojis get so popular?
Emojis are nothing new – they’ve been around for about 20 years already – but in the last couple of years their use has exploded.
With Twitter forcing everyone to write incredibly short messages and people wanting to make their Facebook statuses and emails stand out, emojis have been the go-to tool.
In the last year, for example, has tripled its popularity. In fact, 1 in 5 emojis sent in the UK in 2015 was a Face with Tears of Joy according to SwiftKey, the makers of one of the most popular touchscreen keyboards.
One of the big reasons for this rise in emoji use is that they can be understood by everyone, whatever language you speak. In the internet age where everything you write can be seen by anyone, that’s crucial.
Words will survive
To prove our point about the versatility of emojis, we really wanted to write an article using nothing but those little images. Unfortunately, we quickly found it impossible.
We guess that’s the conclusion we have to draw – emojis, like text-talk, won’t replace written English. As handy as they are, sometimes it’s just easier to make yourself understood with words.