STATES CHRONICLE – A picture is worth a thousand words, right? That’s what the Oxford Dictionary thought too when it announced that 2015’s word of the year is an emoji, which is technically not even a word.
This idea that pictures are worth more than words has been misinterpreted countless times, some saying that pictures are superior to words in communication. And in the current tech era we live in, emojis could perpetrate that sentiment, seeing their prevalence among iPhone and Android users.
Communicating through text can be tricky sometimes, as facial and tonal cues are left out of the equation. Unless, of course, you use an emoji that stands in for your facial expression. One of the explanations why emojis have become so wildly popular is because they provide a solution to texting miscommunications.
While the public has embraced emojis wholeheartedly, linguistic communities haven’t been eager to offer them validation in regard to their usefulness. That is, until now. Because the Oxford Dictionaries’ choice of “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji for the “word” of the year is definitely providing validation.
Unlike past years – “vape” was 2014’s word – this year’s winner isn’t even a word, per se, and the controversial choice seems out of boundaries even for the press-hungry Oxford dictionary. However, Casper Grathwohl, President of Oxford Dictionaries, was quick to explain the choice.
“You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st-century communication. It’s not surprising that a pictographic script like emoji has stepped in to fill those gaps – it’s flexible, immediate, and infuses tone beautifully.”
And considering the contenders the emoji won over – such as “on fleek” and “Dark Web” – we’re almost overwhelmed with tears of joy that the Oxford Dictionary went on this unconventional route instead. However, plenty of linguists don’t think that emojis can be considered to form their own language.
Sociolinguistics scholar Lauren B. Collister, for example, said that emojis were more like tone indicators, not words. What they miss to become its own human language, she says, it’s “regular, recursive grammatical structures.” Moreover, each emoji symbol can be individually and culturally interpreted, which makes it difficult to pin down their exact meaning.
The Oxford Dictionary is one of the trusted gatekeepers of language, so regardless of what linguists think, emojis have just earned some recognition.
Image Source: ABC Local