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Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year is an Emoji

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Yep, it’s true. The Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year is not a word at all. To be more specific, it is the “face with tears of joy,” which is the world’s most used emoji. While a great number of people are outraged, I am intrigued. What makes this so interesting is the fact that symbols are beginning to replace words, making emojis modern day hieroglyphs. We’re reverting back to an ancient form that uses symbols to represent words.

What is most interesting to me is that this particular emoji has such a specific name, but it —like others—is used to convey a range of emotions, thus expanding the intended definition. As a self-proclaimed “Emoji Enthusiast,” I spend time carefully selecting the perfect emojis to insert into conversations, or to replace words or emotions that I’m feeling. But, when we use these symbols, we are leaving them open for interpretation. Does this gap between sender and receiver affect the way we communicate? And, how will this trend of reverting back to symbols for communication progress?

I have so many questions, but what I’ve come to conclude so far is that there are two levels of understanding emojis: the universal interpretation and the personal meaning.

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