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‘The adaptation of real life conversation’: what new emojis mean for human language

‘The adaptation of real life conversation’: what new emojis mean for human language - image
THE CANADIAN PRESS / AP

TORONTO – Face palm, selfie and fist bump are among the 38 new emoji options on the table for mid-2016. The Unicode Consortium, a company that standardizes emojis for smartphone operating systems will decide which ones make the cut.

Other options on the table include animals like an eagle, duck and food items like bacon.

The “facepalm” is one of 38 new emoji candidates. Emojipedia

“I think emojis are the adaptation of real life conversation. They capture tone, body language and facial expression all in text. You can do much more in just one emoji,” said Brent Stirling, social media strategist for Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone.

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“It has to do with ease of access and time. It’s way more difficult to explain the feeling of a face palm, than it is to just use a face palm emoji,” he said.

Emojis are popular in Canada. According to one industry survey by SwiftKey, we tend to favour ones that are related to money, sports, violence or are slightly risque like the “smiling poop” emoji.

“It just makes the conversation more interesting,” said Ryerson student Maria who added she uses emojis frequently on Instagram and Twitter to make her messages more colourful.

Experts say this isn’t necessarily a regression in how we communicate because human language is much too complex and nuanced to be completely replaced by emojis. The characters also make it easier to share on social platforms like Twitter which limit messages to 140 characters.

Recently an Apple IOS update allowed users to change the skin tone of human emojis to reflect racial diversity. Others include same-sex partners to recognize modern views on relationships.

The most popular emojis are facial expressions according to research by SwiftKey. 44.8 per cent used worldwide were of the happy face, while 14.3 per cent were of the sad face.

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