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If you’re having a bad day or just need something funny to watch, I recommend clicking on this link. Yes, that’s right, there is in fact an Emoji Anthem, who knew? Emojis, the starter of many friendships, frustrations and funny conversations. They are an integral part of modern life and the way we communicate with one another.

To commemorate their impact there is now an official World Emoji Day, July 17th. Why that specific day you might wonder? It’s because that is the date displayed on the calendar emoji, obviously!

The first ever emoji was created in 1999 (but it took ten additional years to take the western world by storm) by Shigetaka Kurita, a Japanese designer. In an interview he gave to CNN in 2018 Kurita announced that ‘the heart one is my number-one favourite emoji, because among the various emoji, (its meaning) is very positive.’ What’s your favourite? Since their initial release there have been multiple additions to the line-up.

In 2015 we finally got some more diversity with new skin tones and same-sex couples being included. This was then followed by pride flags and single parent emojis in 2016 in an attempt to be more reflective of the world we now live in. There is already buzz surrounding this year’s new releases with speculation surrounding gender-neutral persons being added to represent a wider spectrum of people!

While emojis are undoubtedly fun and creative to use they also perform another function, they help us to connect. There is an ongoing discussion surrounding whether technology has left us all feeling more disconnected than ever. We are consuming more content than ever before and are consequently, finding it harder to decide what deserves our attention.

“Over the past three decades, research has shown that our hands provide important information that often transcends and clarifies the message in speech…” – Neil Cohn

Never mind the added frustration we feel when the intention of a message gets lost in translation. One minute you’re trying to use some colourful language only to be undercut by autocorrect mistaking the context of your conversation to be about ducks… not fun. In light of this it’s easy to understand why we are all searching for clearer ways to communicate. Enter the emoji.

From a linguistic perspective Neil Cohn eloquently describes how emojis ‘supplement or enhance our writing. This is similar to gestures that appear along with speech. Over the past three decades, research has shown that our hands provide important information that often transcends and clarifies the message in speech.’ The parallels between hand gestures is fascinating as it supports the idea that we are always searching for more accurate ways to communicate, when words just aren’t enough. Using an emoji can add warmth to a sentiment, add colour to an entertaining story or represent a plethora of emotions. They help establish tone and can also simplify what we are trying to get across. In this sense an emoji can transcend some of the restrictions of language, allowing us to communicate across borders and open the possibilities of who we can connect with in ways that were simply not possible before then. They help keep us feeling connected.

To get involved in this iconic day you can do so by using the hashtag #WorldEmojiday across all of your favourite social media platforms. You can already see images of emoji themed cakes and parties to celebrate the occasion. The key event is the World Emoji awards with the ‘smiling face with hearts’ being voted the most popular new emoji in 2019. Which one do you think could be the winner this year?

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