January 5, 2015
The most popular word of 2014 wasn’t actually a word, it was an emoji: the ♥ emoji. According to the Global Language Monitor (GLM) in their 2014 report on English-language word usage, “the Heart and Love emoji, emoticon, and variations thereof appear billions of times a day around the world — across languages and cultures.”
Although I’m skeptical about the study’s methodology, this is not the first time we’ve heard about emoji’s takeover in our everyday lexicon. Last year the heart emoji was used nearly 342 million times on Twitter. So is this the next step of evolution in how we communicate? The more technology we have readily available to us, the less words we will need to use to explain ourselves?
According to Stanford-trained linguist Tyler Schnoebelen, who spoke to the New Republic about the emoji takeover, emojis have “allowed us to communicate without saying anything, saving us from spelling out any actual sentiments.”
We experienced some great emoji-based explanations even in pop culture: remember Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” emoji rendition? If you missed, watch below.
Even today, fast food chain Taco Bell has launched a campaign to create a taco emoji!
More teenagers use the Japanese export to communicate, and some even find it weird when emojis are not used. Schnoebelen has found that use of emoticons varies by geography, age, gender, and social class—just like dialects or regional accents. Friend groups fall into the habit of using certain emoticons, just as they develop their own slang.
A glimpse at your Facebook or Twitter feed will tell you the extent of emoji usage in captions and comments. We are seeing that we no longer need traditional, text-based means of conveying thoughts when communicating online. Although they do have limitations of their own, emojis may just be a product of our fast-paced lifestyle, where less is more. Just take a look at the list of top worlds in 2014:
- The Heart ♥ Emoji (for love) — The Heart ♥ Emoji (for love) is the Top Word of 2014.
- Hashtag — The re-invented pound-sign.
- Vape — Smoking an electronic or e-cigarette.
- Blood Moon — Four total eclipses of the moon in eighteen-month span.
- Nano — From Greek for dwarf, small; now 1 billionth of a meter, and any number of words surrounding nano technology.
- Photo Bomb — Breaking into a ‘pre-arranged” photograph without authorization resulting in often humorous outcomes.
- Caliphate — Literally, a land ruled by an Islamic Caliph typically governed under Sharia Law.
- (White) privilege — The alleged advantages of having lighter colored skin in a diverse society.
- Bae — Term of endearment for one’s object of desire.
- “Bash” Tag — Using a hashtag to undermine your frenemies.
Wherever you may stand on the debate of the emoji takeover, it’s interesting to see how our communication style continues to adapt to our ever-changing environment. And let’s be honest; a heart being popular in 2014 is definitely better than the poop emoji.
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