Is English Evolving?

The Oxford English Dictionary has released it’s 2015 Word of the Year: The emoji Face with Tears of Joy.

An emoji is defined by Wiktionary as “any of the standardised ideogrammatic icons used in Japanese text messaging (which have since been adopted internationally).” It comes from the Japanese characters for picture (e) and character (moji).

I know a lot of people are going to be horrified by this announcement. “It’s not even a word!”, I hear them scream, “They’re destroying English!” and such similar outbursts. This sort of thing happens every time something new gets added to the great tome that is the OED and as such, I think we can ignore the uproar as repetitive.

For my two cents, I think that this year is far more interesting than last year’s word (Vape). What is language if not the way in which we communicate with each other? If that’s the case, then the emojis are certainly becoming an integral part of our shared language and it’s important that the OED acknowledge it.

What I find fascinating is that English is now incorporating pictographs into everyday use, even replacing previous usages. Pictographs seem to be useful for quickly communicating general but complex ideas (such as emotion), but I think they would be less efficient in technical discussion where details are important.

It will be interesting to watch how our language adapts to our new modes communication and how quickly it will change.

-Odd
“Language, never forget, is more fashion than science, and matters of usage, spelling and pronunciation tend to wander around like hemlines.” ― Bill Bryson, The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

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