Emoji, a Japanese expression, roughly means “picture word” and was developed in 1990 by Shigetaka Kurita. While working for NTT Docomo, a Japanese telecom company, Kurita designed these picture words as a feature on their pagers to make them more appealing to teens. When Apple released the first iPhone in 2007, an emoji keyboard was embedded to nab the Japanese market. While not intended for U.S. users to find, they did and quickly figured out how to use it. (Information from National Day of Calendar)
The last line of the above paragraph gives me pause. “Emojis were not intended for U.S. users to find”. Really? Did they think we wouldn’t understand them or what? If you think about it, humans have been using emojis without calling them that for a very long time. There is a picture floating around Facebook comparing the little guys to hieroglyphics. But I’m thinking more about the symbols that denote a bathroom, you know, one has on a skirt and one has on pants. Or perhaps a deer or duck crossing sign on a road. We even understand the taxi-stand sign in a city. What’s that old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. I know I’ve been drawing smiley faces on things for as long as I can remember. When I look at the above picture, it makes me wonder how long the dollar sign has been in use.
I like to use emojis when I text. They add a bit of humor, or love, or emotion as they were intended. The thumbs-up and hearts are the ones I use most. I haven’t been sucked into trying to write a whole thought in emojis. I can write the word car, for example, faster than I can scroll through a bunch of tiny little pictures to find one. There is probably a trick to finding it quickly I will need my grandson to show me. I know the picture comes up after you have typed the word, but then what use is it. I like to do things in one step, not two.
Anyway, emojis can be used to display all types of emotions, convey many different meanings and add a little something to our printed communication. We should take a moment to thank their inventor today and use a bunch of them.