Emoji’s; the universal language

Walking down the Highstreet, I noticed something that both surprised and tickled me.

Why write a marketing slogan when you can tell a story through a group of tiny pictures?


The fast food chain has managed to embody the ritual McDonald’s moments in a series of cartoon icons. This universal smiley movement has bypassed native language barriers – we can hold conversations with people who cannot speak our language through the medium of emoji -meaning that this campaign can be used all over the world.

Recognised as a standardised code and adapted into Unicode (the computer industries standard for encoding and displaying most of the worlds writing systems) the emoji isn’t going anywhere. The emoji phenomenon has taken over the instant messaging world and is vastly becoming the go to script for our digital and literal conversations.

These universal, new wave hieroglyphics have made it easier for younger generations to communicate. According to TalkTalk – over 72% of young people they surveyed on using emoji’s found it easier to communicate their feelings through the cartoons.

It’s become so successful that;

  • People have received funding to turn literary classics into emoji’s. You can now buy Emoji Dick, the belittled version of the great Moby Dick.
  • Pop stars write songs in emoji’s

  • One night stands can be told through emoji’s
    one night stand emojis
  • It’s even been diversified and set as STANDARD by Apple
    diverse emojis

Do you know what this could mean? In millennia, the beings we evolve into could hack into some extinct mobile chip and primary schooler’s of that day will be writing their names in the pre-historic language of a lost digital civilization-just like we wrote our names in Hieroglyphics.

The scary thing is, they may even believe that this lost civilisation weren’t actually human. They may think that the emoji is some early form of communication between the very earliest AI. Who’s to say this technology didn’t brainwash its users to lose the ability to communicate via the written and spoken word, replacing the thought of traditional language with this.

Is this notion detriment to our evolution? If we are finding it more appropriate to talk to each other through images rather than text, what happens when we are forced into a situation where physical language is required?

We hear the complaint everyday, of the new generation being consumed by the bright blue light of hand held screens, pulling a fork full of food up to their cheeks as they sit jaws to the table, tapping their thumbs as fast as they can as if this movement is a dietary requirement.

There’s an increase in the lack of eye contact. There’s a decrease in the communication levels of young people going into schools. There’s an investment in phonetics – is this all because of the emoji? (I may be being slightly extreme here but it’s worth thinking about especially with the growth of the Hikikomori).

There really is strong evidence that the abstract written word is essential to advance ideas, poetry and argument to their highest levels, but emojis are becoming the language of choice-sometimes we can’t find a word that will better explain the hear no evil monkey or the teeth bearing smiley face. They represent the literal and real, implied emotional content; the visual language that’s an intrinsic aspect of our vocal face to face conversations. Emoji’s make the written word more aesthetically pleasing, like picking up a book with lots of pictures.

It’s hard to get to grips with the tone of the written word when you are reading it. We’ve all misread or misunderstood an email here and there. What emoji’s do is provide a safe net where you can present what you’re saying physically, thus controlling the mood of what you are saying. You can’t really miss read emoji’s, but you can misread emails, comments and messages. The emoji is the bit between the lines that everyone is supposed to find but struggles to sometimes, especially when we all have a chip on our shoulder and are trying to prove our self worth in this world where there is no down time.

Let’s not get too depressed that language has succumbed to the homo erectus of the Simpsons, we haven’t lost the ability to speak; YET. Let us just enjoy the fact that emoji’s are generally used to translate happy emotions and moments, with the top 10 most used being;

  1. Smiley face
    2. Crying with laughter
    crying with laugher
    3. Love heartlove heart
    4. Beaming red cheeks
    beaming red cheeks
    5. Thumbs upthumbs up
    6. Tongue out winking facetongue out winking face
    7. Blow kissblow kiss
    8. Wink facewink face
    9. Confusedconfused
    10. See no evil monkeysee no evil monkey