Prahlad Rao | November 17, 2015
Often we are let down by the words that we chose. In this modern era it is technology that is failing us. May be this explains why Oxford Dictionaries announced on Tuesday that the emoji, commonly known as 'Face with Tears of Joy', is its word of the Year for 2015.
This year, instead of choosing a traditional word, Oxford Dictionaries has chosen a pictograph, the 'Face with Tears of Joy' emoji, to reflect the sharp increase in popularity of emoji across the world in 2015. Every year, the Oxford Dictionaries team reviews candidates for word of the year and then debates their merits, eventually choosing one that captures the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year.
But why a ‘face with tears of joy’? Cliché rules our expression in this fast paced world. Even though modern mobile phones are equipped with dictionaries to search for an appropriate word for our feelings, the need for speed forces us to go for an emoji. Like they write on the roadside banners ‘speed thrills but kills’, sending reaction at the speed of finger tap is thrilling but it kills the language skills!
The symbol, showing a yellow smiley face weeping tears of laughter, has been crowned Word of the Year thanks to its popularity on social media and instant messaging. It is joined on the 2015 list by other digital terms including "ad block" and "dark web", in a collection of words intended to sum up the "ethos, mood or preoccupations" of the modern day.
Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, says: "You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st Century communication. It's not surprising that a pictographic script like emoji has stepped in to fill those gaps—it's flexible, immediate, and infuses tone beautifully. As a result emojis are becoming an increasingly rich form of communication, one that transcends linguistic borders."
This year Oxford University Press partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world. According to SwiftKey's research, 'Face with Tears of Joy' was the most heavily used emoji globally in 2015. Their research shows that the character comprised 20% of all emoji used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of all emoji used in the US.
Emoji is a loanword from Japanese defined as'a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication'. Emoji is derived ultimately from the Japanese words 'e' (picture) and 'moji' (letter, character), whereas emoticon is from the English words, emotion and icon. It was used in English-language Japanese publications as early as 1997 but remained rare outside of Japanese contexts until 2011, when Apple launched iOS 5 with emoji support.
Other words in the race and lost:
Ad blocker: A piece of software designed to prevent advertisements from appearing on a web page.
Brexit: The potential or hypothetical departure of the United Kingdom from the EU.
Dark Web: The part of the World Wide Web that is only accessible by means of special software, allowing users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable.
Lumbersexual: A young urban man who cultivates an appearance and style of dress (typified by a beard and checked shirt) suggestive of a rugged outdoor lifestyle.
On fleek (adj): Extremely good, attractive, or stylish.
Refugee: A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.
Sharing economy: An economic system in which assets or services are shared between private individuals, either free or for a fee, typically by means of the Internet.
They (singular): Used to refer to a person of unspecified sex.
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