Friday, 20 November 2015

Emoji: ‘Face with Tears of Joy’

Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015 is…
‘Face with Tears of Joy’

That’s right - for the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is a pictograph 😂 officially called the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji, though you may know it by other names. There were other strong contenders from a range of fields, outlined below, but 😂 was chosen as the ‘word’ that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.

Why was this chosen? Emojis (the plural can be either emoji or emojis) have been around since the late 1990s, but 2015 saw their use, and use of the word emoji, increase hugely.

This year Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and 😂 was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that 😂 made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014. The word emoji has seen a similar surge: although it has been found in English since 1997, usage more than tripled in 2015 over the previous year according to data from the Oxford Dictionaries Corpus.

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Say What? Oxford Dictionaries Names Emoji as ‘Word of the Year’
On Tuesday, Oxford Dictionaries made word lovers of the world groan and want to leave this planet, when they announced that their “Word of the Year” is not a word at all, but an emoji

Officially called the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji, the laughing smiley face has taken the top spot this year despite the fact that it does not even contain any letters.

“There were other strong contenders from a range of fields, outlined below, but ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji was chosen as the ‘word’ that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015,” the Oxford Dictionaries announced in a statement.

The internet commentary repeatedly noted that perhaps a ‘Word of the Year’ should actually appear in the dictionary, as well as the fact that it appears humans are devolving back to grunts and cave wall paintings.

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Crying with laughter: how we learned how to speak emoji

The Oxford dictionary has announced its word of the year. It’s spelled ... Actually, it isn’t spelled at all, because it contains no letters, just a pair of symmetrical eyebrows, eyes, big gloopy tears, and a broad monotooth grin. That’s right, the word of the year is the “face with tears of joy” emoji.

But that’s not a word at all! If the Oxford dictionary is not going to take the meaning of the word “word” literally, then who is? Caspar Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, laughs. Not so much that he’s leaking tears of joy, but he definitely sounds amused. He oversaw the discussions that led to the selection. “We just thought, when you look back at the year in language, one of the most striking things was that, in terms of written communication, the most ascendant aspect of it wasn’t a word at all, it was emoji culture.” He mentions Hillary Clinton, who tweeted students, asking them to tell her how they felt about their loans “in three emojis or less”. Then Moby-Dick was translated into emojis (and renamed Emoji Dick.) Alice in Wonderland underwent the same update – a task that required the use of 250,000 emojis. The author TR Richmond, who used emojis in What She Left, a novel built around texts, blogs and Facebook posts, says that emojis “have a place at the heart of our language”.

“The fact that English alone is proving insufficient to meet the needs of 21st-century digital communication is a huge shift,” says Grathwohl. When one of his dictionary colleagues suggested using an emoji instead of the word “emoji”, “lightbulbs went off”. (This hints that he also thinks in emoji.) Until recently, Grathwohl, who is 44, avoided using emojis altogether because he worried that he would look as if he “was trying to get in on teen culture. I felt inauthentic. But I think there was a tipping point this year. It’s now moved into the mainstream.” Not only does he use emojis – his favourite is the ghost, which he uses in place of “I”, sharing as he does a first name with Caspar the Friendly Ghost – but his mother sends him emoji-laden messages, too.

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The 2015 Word of the Year Is an Emoji You Use All the Time

Everything's coming up emoji. For the first time, the Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year isn't a word at all, but an emoji -- the 'Face with Tears of Joy,' to be exact.

In a blog post, Oxford University Press explained that the emoji was selected in part because it "best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015."

So how did the venerable organization settle on this emotion-driven choice? Oxford University Press teamed up with SwiftKey, the company behind SwiftKey Keyboard, an app that works to predict your favored words, turns of phrase and yes, emojis, and found that the 'Face with Tears of Joy' was the most frequently used emoji in 2015, with the expressive icon making up 17 percent of all emojis used in the U.S., and 20 percent of emojis in the U.K.

related: 'Vape' Is the Oxford Dictionaries' 2014 Word of the Year

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Emoji Snags 'Word of the Year' (Here’s Why That Makes Sense)

Face with tears of joy emoji

It's official: Oxford Dictionaries word of the year isn't a word at all, it's "face-with-tears-of-joy," the most globally used emoji in 2015.

The smiley face with oversized tears made up a whopping 20 percent of all emojis used in the United Kingdom and 17 percent of those used in the United States, according to the Oxford Dictionaries blog. (For the emoji-illiterate, the "face with tears of joy" roughly corresponds to happy crying, although it's safe to say that most people using the emoji are not literally crying at the moment they insert it into a conversation.)

"Emojis are no longer the preserve of texting teens — instead, they have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and one which can cross language barriers," according to the Oxford Dictionaries blog post, which explained the rationale for the "word" choice.

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'Face with tears of joy' emoji named Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

The ‘face with tears of joy’ emoji comprised 20 per cent of emojis used in the UK this year

It may not be a word by the strictest definition – but the emoji commonly known as “face with tears of joy” has been named the “Word” of the Year for 2015 by Oxford Dictionaries.

A breakthrough year for the pictograms first spread by texting teens has been marked by the Oxford Dictionaries’ recognition for a word or expression that “captures the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year.”

The body cited Hillary Clinton soliciting feedback in emoji and on-going debates about the skin tone of smiley faces, as evidence that “emoji have come to embody a core aspect of living in a digital world that is visually driven, emotionally expressive, and obsessively immediate.”

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Oxford’s 2015 Word of the Year Is This Emoji
 It's a historic moment of recognition for little images that have been gaining popularity since 1999

Oxford Dictionaries made history on Monday by announcing that their “Word of the Year” would not be one of those old-fashioned, string-of-letters-type words at all. The flag their editors are planting to sum up who we were in 2015 is this pictograph, an acknowledgement of just how popular these pictures have become in our (digital) daily lives:

“Although emoji have been a staple of texting teens for some time, emoji culture exploded into the global mainstream over the past year,” the company’s team wrote in a press release. “Emoji have come to embody a core aspect of living in a digital world that is visually driven, emotionally expressive, and obsessively immediate.”

Oxford University Press—which publishes both the august Oxford English Dictionary and the lower-brow, more-modern Oxford Dictionaries Online—partnered with keyboard-app company SwiftKey to determine which emoji was getting the most play this past year. According to their data, the “Face With Tears of Joy” emoji, also known as LOL Emoji or Laughing Emoji, comprised nearly 20% of all emoji use in the U.S. and the U.K., where Oxford is based. The runner-up in the U.S., with 9% of usage, was this number:

Emoji 絵文字えもじ
Character palette showing emoji emoticons

Emoji (絵文字えもじ?, Japanese pronunciation: [emodʑi]) are the ideograms or smileys used in electronic messages and Web pages. The characters, which are used much like ASCII emoticons or kaomoji, exist in various genres, including facial expressions, common objects, places and types of weather, and animals.

Emoji have become increasingly popular since their international inclusion in Apple's iPhone, which was followed by similar adoption by Android and other mobile operating systems. Apple's OS X operating system supports emoji as of version 10.7 (Lion). Microsoft added monochrome Unicode emoji coverage to the Segoe UI Symbol system font in Windows 8 and added color emoji in Windows 8.1 via the Segoe UI Emoji font.

Emoji were initially used by Japanese mobile operators, NTT DoCoMo, au, and SoftBank Mobile (formerly Vodafone). Originally meaning pictograph, the word emoji literally means "picture" (e) + "character" (moji). These companies each defined their own variants of emoji using proprietary standards. From 2010 onwards, some emoji character sets have been incorporated into Unicode, a standard system for indexing characters, which has allowed them to be used outside Japan and to be standardized across different operating systems. Some emoji are very specific to Japanese culture, such as a bowing businessman, a face wearing a face mask, a white flower used to denote "brilliant homework", or a group of emoji representing popular foods: ramen noodles, dango, onigiri, Japanese curry, and sushi.

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