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Smiley face: Seven things you didn't know about emoji

Waving hand, smiley face, thumbs up. Word of Mouth's Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright have been looking at emoji - possibly the world's first truly global form of communication. Here are some fascinating things about emoji you may not have been aware of.

1. People that use more emoji will get more dates

In the digital age, using emoji makes us more effective communicators. We’re better able to express our emotional selves and better able to signal our personality. It stands to reason then that if you use more emoji, you’re going to get more dates.

2. The majority of emoji sent are positive or happy emotions

Around six billion emoji are sent on a daily basis. There are around two billion smart phones in use worldwide. In the UK, 76% of the population own a smart phone and of that number, over 80% regularly use emoji. Of the six billion emoji that are sent globally every day, around 70% are emotion based – for example, smiley face, love hearts. A smaller proportion of the emoji sent are sad expressions. This should be heartening.

3. Which nations favour which emojis?

There is a difference between cultural groups and nationalities in terms of how emoji are used:

  • Canadians use the poo emoji the most.
  • Australians have a higher use of alcohol and vacation-based emoji.
  • The French use love hearts four times more than anybody else.
  • Russians tend to use more romantic-themed emoji than other nations.
  • Arabic speaking countries tend to use more flower emoji.
  • The British favour the beer emoji.

4. One of the most popular emoji of recent years: Face with Tears of Joy

In 2015, the Oxford English Dictionary announced that their Word of the Year was the emoji 'Face with Tears of Joy'. The OED chose this emoji because they said it best reflected the passing year in language.

5. Abraham Lincoln might have been the first to use an emoticon

Whilst explaining the difference between emoticons and emoji, Professor Vyv Evans remarked on what might well have been the first use of an emoticon. The 16th President of the United States was a talented raconteur - he introduced a speech in 1862 with some witty remarks and the audience spontaneously applauded and laughed. To capture this the typographers represented the applause with a wink symbol ;) and there's been much debate in recent years about whether this was deliberate or an error!

6. You don't have to teach emoji

It’s a very intuitive language. Because emoji are visual representations of emotional expressions, they’re easy to pick up. The average six-year-old child in the UK is more tech-savvy than the average 45-year-old.

7. What does the future hold for emoji?

Is it a passing fad? Professor Vyv Evans says no - emoji do something in digital communication that is otherwise missing. The role of an emoji is central to what drives effective communication and inducing an empathetic response. Perhaps the future is more dynamic emoji? A start-up in Silicon Valley is currently developing an app for a dynamic avatar-like emoji. So when you send text messages in the future you might have a representation of yourself - like a moving cartoon - where an avatar will display your emotional state.

Rude emojis: aubergines and censorship

Why did the aubergine emoji get banned from some social media platforms?

Where does the emoji come from?

Is their ancestor really the Egyptian hieroglyph?

Who decides which emoji make it?

Emoji look different on different software. But who decides which emoji get made?

Why are emoji so fascinating?

Professor Vyv Evans unpicks why we're so obsessed with emoji.

How have emoji become so popular?

Is emoji really the world's fastest growing language?

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