Are Emojis Replacing Words?

Two phones displaying the emoji keyboard as well as some text examples of usage of emojis.
Two phones displaying the emoji keyboard as well as some text examples of usage of emojis. Source

In my Digital Grammar class, we have been discussing emojis. Digital Grammar is about how grammar and language are utilized in a digital space, like online or on a smartphone. As you might already know, smartphones have the ability to utilize emojis when it comes to text messages and other forms of instant messaging communication, as well as on most applications where there is a space for inputting text. A lot of people have caught on to using emojis to show emotion and make the mood of digital writing a little lighter and have more emotion. In our class, we have seen examples where things are going a lot further. Some people have started to use emojis to completely replace all text in digital writing. How is this word replacement with emojis going to affect digital writing?

Emojis are so popular that they have become stuffed
Emojis are so popular that they have become stuffed “animals” or plush toys. Source

I have always thought the advent of emojis to be cool and useful when used to show emotion and tone in a digital text like text messaging and instant messaging. Apparently, according to a blog post that I found, emojis were invented by a Japanese communications company in the 1990s. This probably explains why there are so many sushi and Japanese treats emojis. Anyhow, it is interesting that emojis were created at about the time that I was born and now they are very widely used in my generation but no everyone has caught on to this new use of completely replacing text with emojis. I am talking whole messages with just emojis. I cannot read them usually! How is this effective as communication? I originally thought that emojis were helpful by adding a few to the end of a message to express that you are not angry and you are generally happy or whatever the tone of the message is supposed to be, but no text and just emojis now? I am not feeling it at all.

In our class, we beheld a press release from Chevrolet about their new Cruze sedan. According to Chevrolet in the article, “Words alone can’t describe the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze.” I do agree with the “words alone can’t describe” aspect of this, but this article is written completely in emojis. I cannot even read it entirely. I agree that words alone are not always the best way to describe something in a digital space. It is completely appropriate to add emojis or other pictorial elements to a digital writing for clarity, but when it affects clarity, then there is a big problem. I am going to say that a lot of people cannot fully read this style of writing. Can you read it? Do you think that it is an effective form of communication?

An example of the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze press release written only in emojis.
An example of the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze press release written only in emojis. Source: Chevrolet.com

In a blog post that I read, the writer says explained that they did an experiment where they would try to converse in only emojis for a whole day. It got problematic when the writer tried conversing only in emojis with their parents. I’m not talking a smiley-face emoji, I am talking a full “sentence” of just emojis. The mother responded with: “What does that mean?” and “Maybe it’s best we don’t take part in this experiment.” This is funny, but so true. It is hard for people to decipher the emojis as a language. Even though the mother was from a different generation, there are a lot of people from younger generations that cannot (or will not even try to) decipher emoji-only writing.

A dictionary. Where do emojis fit in the dictionary?
A dictionary. Where do emojis fit in the dictionary? Source

To make matters worse, according to another blog that I read, emojis have started to make their way into the dictionary as words of the day in the Oxford English Dictionary. I find this a bit problematic, granted I understand that specific emojis have meanings, but emojis are not words themselves, at least from my understanding. Emojis are symbols that represent certain things! They are not words themselves. But if they are now in the dictionary, the main source of codifying English, I suppose they are words now. I suppose if they are in the dictionary now, people can look them up if they need clarification. But wait…between what guide words would I find the new emojis? Also, how would I search for them in an online dictionary? By description? Confusing! This is too much!

In conclusion, I think that emojis are really cool and they are a great way for one to express themselves in a message or digital writing. To answer my original question, no, emojis are not replacing words, in my personal opinion. I think that emojis are symbols and are used to represent things that are not easily represented with text or words.

What do you think about emojis? Do you think that emojis are words or symbols? How do you feel about emojis making their way into the Oxford English Dictionary as words? I would love to see what you have to say about emojis. Feel free to leave me feedback in the comment section below or check out my contact page. I would really appreciate any kind of feedback! If you would like to know more about me, check out my about page. I hope you enjoyed exploring this topic as much as I did.

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