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Laugh, cry or just chill, emojis have you covered

Diverse people holding emoticon

Diverse people holding emoticon  

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They have emerged as a universal language, working better than words

Commending me for an achievement, my dad sent me an emoji showing the thumb touching the tip of the index finger with the other three digits up in the air, followed by the winner’s cup emoji. For a 75-year-old man, who was reluctant to adopt the smartphone a few years ago and relishes giving sermons in Shakespearean English, it’s a big leap to use emojis.

Emojis are a now a favourite across ages and societal, economic, cultural and geographic barriers, changing the way we communicate. No typing long sentences, no searching for words; emojis express feelings and opinions without any complicated language, grammar or syntax.

The versatile, yellow round faces with multitudinous facial expressions and gestures convey a user’s instant feelings better than even words. Some are extraordinarily animated, and words fail to express such emotion so succinctly. The tears-welled-up-in-the-eye and Pinocchio-nosed emojis and the one with a monocular lens are well conceived. One emoji can be combined with another to show anger with disappointment or happiness in the middle of anxiety. Adding more of the same emojis, the strength of an emotion can be amplified.

Many wrongly believe that the word emoji originated from “emotion”. It’s a Japanese portmanteau of ‘e’ (picture) and ‘moji’ (character), which developed in the late-1990s. World Emoji Day is celebrated on July 17. Currently, there are more than 3,000 of them in use, and every year, more are added. Those showing tears of joy and the happy face with a kissing heart are the two most popular emojis in 2019.

Ease of use

The language of emojis is never taught, but more than three billion people use them every day with ease. Though emojis are easy to understand, some can be misinterpreted, leading to misgivings. Some countries consider the use of pistol, bomb and knife emojis dangerous.

When a conference photograph was posted by one of the senior professors in a common forum, I posted an emoji with a smiling face. This irked him, and he immediately retorted, asking what was funny in his message. I had to apologise profusely, and convince him that the emoji was indeed a smiley emoticon indicating happiness, and not laughter.

Scanning through the display of emojis, I note that the intricate details in them are amusing and exciting, beyond being informative and helpful.

The wide variety of animal faces, foods, natural resources, birds, professionals, sports, automobiles, weapons and flags are a treat to watch and use.

Emojis are akin to cartoons. Irrespective of our age, they bring out the child in us. Welcome to the exciting world of emojis.

rishiortho@gmail.com

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 6:08:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/laugh-cry-or-just-chill-emojis-have-you-covered/article30232574.ece

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