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< Back to question Have emojis changed the world? Show more Show less

In just two decades, emoji has become ‘the fastest growing language in history’. But are there more complex implications to their popularity? With more than 92% of internet users now using emojis, and billions used every day, do the simple digital pictograms have wider implications for society, relationships and even the way we're hardwired?

No, the impact of emojis is exaggerated. Show more Show less

The growth in emoji use is part of the much more transformative digital revolution. Emojis are impactful insofar as they enhance (or diminish) existing forms of communication. However, they have no revolutionary impact in and of themselves.
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Emojis are a subsidiary of mainstream communication and language

Emojis enhance (or diminish) existing forms of communication, which they exist within. They are unable to exist without the structure or depth of another language and cannot be seen as independent from "real" languages.
communication emojis instagram phones snapchat technology texting tiktok
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Proponents


Context

Shigetaka Kurita invented emojis in 1999 to make communication easier on early mobile phones. His original purpose has sustained over the last two decades as emojis have become exponentially popular. It is misguided to refer to emojis as a language, because they enhance existing conversations, rather than act as a standalone language.

The Argument

Emojis are a non-essential part of communication. Language and conversation can exist without emojis; emojis cannot exist without other forms of language. While emojis are able to convey a vast amount of information succinctly, they are in no way able to be used to have a full, complex conversation as true languages can. Even with the more than 3000 recognized emojis, the symbols alone are simply incapable of the depth necessary for conversation. For example, emojis typically depict single faces or objects which represent emotions, abstract entities, or simply objects. While a surface level conversation made up of emojis might be possible, emojis cannot offer much more. Another issue that goes hand in hand with this is that emojis do not allow for precision of language. While most languages have many different parts of speech such as verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and the like, emojis are merely symbols. If any conversation was able to be had with emojis, then there would surely be room for much error as emojis are able to take on a plethora of meanings. In this way, not only are emojis incapable of comprehensive conversation, they are also incapable of precise conversation.

Counter arguments

Over 8 billion emojis are sent daily. It is incorrect to describe them as "non-essential" given that they are now so ingrained in the way different populations interact. Emojis can be used independently of words. Emojis typically depict objects, but there are many emojis that represent abstract entities (such as colors or other signifiers), or have taken on an alternative metonymic meaning. With the wide array of emojis available, there are countless combinations to express exactly what is intended in conversation. A conversation between two people can, in theory, be done entirely with emojis. If both parties agree upon a meaning for each emoji used, and both understand them well enough, they can carry out a full conversation with only emojis. A similar concept are the Kanji symbols in written Japanese which express entire words or ideas in a single symbol. So emojis. when used to this same level, can indeed become an essential and universal part of language and communication.

Premises

[P1] Due to their ambiguous nature, there is no proof that emojis add meaning to written communication. [P2] Emojis require existing conversation or statements to have an impact

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Emojis add meaning to conversation or statements. [Rejecting P2] Emojis can symbolize entire words or thoughts, and can carry an entire conversation if both parties understand and agree upon a set meaning for each emoji used.

References


    This page was last edited on Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 16:12 UTC

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