I’m a very visual person meaning images often have richer, more immediate meaning for me than text and because of this I find our ever-increasing use of emojis and emoticons fascinating. I did some digging on the topic and here is some background information about both and a few things I didn’t know.
Both emojis and emoticons are useful when we want a quick, efficient way to communication via social media whether it’s to replace a sentence (typically with emojis) or express our feelings (typically with emoticons).
The first emoji was created in the late 90s in Japan by Shigetaka Kurita.(1)
The resemblance to the English words “emotion” and “emoticon” is purely coincidental. Originally meaning pictograph, the word emoji comes from Japanese e (絵, “picture”) + moji (文字, “character”). (2)
The original meaning of an emoji can acquire different meanings according to its cultural context. “For example, 💅 (nail polish) has been described as being used in English-language communities to signify “non-caring fabulousness” and anything from shutting haters down to a sense of accomplishment.” (3) Just as the word pension has different meanings depending on the culture using it.
Emojis center more around ideas while emoticons more around emotions, although some emojis are emotion based. While an emoticon denotes your emotional state, for example, an emoji can have a complete meaning and thought behind the picture. Having made this distinction, a lot of emoticons integrated into the list of emoji simply because of how incredibly popular the system for emotions had become for digital communication. Emoticons can express emotions inside a group of emoji. (4)
Using coded language isn’t new. Our rather long history of using symbols and images to communicate with one another dates back to the prehistoric era and has evolved along with tools we’ve had at hand to record and transmit the message (i.e. media), and “in tandem with shifts in political and economic systems, and by extension, systems of power.”5
Morse code was the first invention (1840s) to successfully exploit electromagnetism for long-distance communication. In a significant way, it was a precursor to our current means to connect with people over distance. We don’t use Egyptian hieroglyphs to communicate, but we do still use some Morse code in our written communication, mainly our abbreviations. (6)
Much of Morse code abbreviated words in a straightforward manner and several of the abbreviations we still use, such as TNX for Thanks, FWD for Forward, and MSG for message; interestingly, others codes have become antiquated, such as OB for Old boy and YL for Young lady (originally an unmarried female operator). There are others that required a knowledge of the code, such as 88 for Love and kisses and 73 for Best regards. And, here is my favourite,
HEE for Humour intended or laughter (often repeated, e.g. HEE HEE). Clearly a predecessor of LOL.
.. / .- — / .-.. .- ..- –. …. .. -. –. / — ..- – / .-.. — ..- -.. .-.-.-
Sources and where to read more:
ablokeabroad – COM0011 Post #3