Emojis are a joke, right? At least that’s the present thought Surrounding the ubiquitous little symbols. Sure, they can be helpful when you’re texting a humorous message to an unsuspecting parent, but I would never dream of attaching one to a serious message. It would destruct the intent of this message almost instantly. Can you imagine attaching a crying face emoji meaning to a message like, “Sorry for your loss”? Oh my, that just would not work because Emoji are still viewed as light hearted and infantile.
After reading Vyvyan Evans’ The Emoji Code: The Linguistics Behind Smiley Faces and Scaredy Cats, your brain will probably not be changed about the present status of the Emoji. Evans’ offers the reader a profound look into the background and possibilities of the Emoji. For lovers of language, it’s a worthy trip.
Evans seems to be the present go-to guy on the topic of Emoji. He’s a Professor of linguistics at Bangor University and he received his PhD in linguistics from Georgetown University nearly 20 years ago. He also writes a slew of books, and they are deep dives into speech. Some titles include, The Structure of Time: Language. Meaning, and Temporal Cognition and The Language Myth: Why Language Is Not an Instinct. After being assigned a post on the criminal consequences of a message made from Emoji, he became stuck on the topic, and it became his principal subject for study.
To begin, Evans sets us up with all the background and current state of Emoji, and it turns out to be some of the very insightful advice in the publication. Any assessment of the value of a book should include the number of invaluable conversation pieces presented inside. This information given early in the book is where I found myself telling friends, “Did you understand…”, or “I read now that…”, every time I left the house. That is where Evans dumps all of the huge data points concerning current smartphone and Emoji usage. It’s a excellent set-up for a book on the subject, but sadly, it gives way to a stretched out middle portion that may have you feeling as the sleeping emoji.
Apparently, Evans felt the need to justify his analysis of Emoji quite Heavily because an overly large chunk of the book is dedicated to just this topic. Near the 50 page indicate, Evans informs us, “A fundamental feature of human communication is that it’s multi-modal in nature–we use, and need, multiple modes to signal intentions and make meaning, with different modes contributing different sorts of significance to the whole.” Nearly 100 pages later, he states, “To assert that Emoji will make us poorer communicators is like stating that using facial expressions in conversations makes your ideas more challenging to understand.” One hundred pages after that quote, he again says a support of Emoji, “…the doom and gloomers have got it all wrong. Emoji enables and enhances our communicative smarts. And this is something we should all celebrate.” The purpose to sharing these three quotes is this: they’re almost 200 pages apart and essentially say the same thing, that Emoji are useful in textual conversations.
That is not to say that Evans provides nothing throughout the bulk of the book. There is some deep digging going on here. Evans is a linguist at heart and a language fan in general, so we get the history of multiple languages, an analysis of how languages morph over generations, as well as the historical precedents for Emoji. Here, as previously, some terrific little nuggets of advice are presented. A cursory history of punctuation is given here, and there are definitely some illuminating tidbits worth knowing. Also, did you know that Vladimir Nabokov suggested the creation of a smiley face emoticon in 1969? There’s a fun little conversation starter right there.
Because of the pop culture status This is a Book for language lovers first and foremost. It is too heavy on research and history to be a light read. If Evans was looking to write a lighter Book, he would have included more fundamental, funny anecdotes illustrating Of a book called The Emoji Code: How to Score a Partner with The Use of Emoji. But this man is a language nerd, so of course, dating tips are Not his objective. He gave us a linguistic analysis of this “new” language called Emoji. We should expect nothing more or less.