There are approximately 6,000 languages in the world, and 95% of the world’s population speak just 300 of those languages. Around 43% of the 6,000 languages are threatened with extinction, but there is one new language which is taking the world by storm. Emojis.
If you have a phone, computer, or tablet you will have seen these popular little images that are being used more and more every day. At MiHi, we’ve counted that, between us, we use around 30 emojis before 10am! And we know we’re not alone.
Snapchat leading the way…
92% of the world’s online population use this new language, which is also known as Unicode. In recent months, we’ve even seen social media sites and apps make their own emojis. Snapchat allows users to add standard emojis to their pictures and videos, as well as a selection of similar characters and images that are exclusive to Snapchat. The image-based app has even incorporated emojis to friend lists. If a contact has a red heart next to their name, you have been contacting each other more than your other contacts for two consecutive weeks, or as Snapchat phrases it “you have been #1 BFs with each other for two weeks straight”.
It’s not just for those trendy kids…
If you think it’s only younger generations that are using the image based language, you’d be wrong. 90% of online users aged 35+ use emojis; proving that the universality of the language even applies across age groups. Not only does it defy age, it defies all other languages in the world, allowing users from all backgrounds to communicate and understand each other. If person X speaks English, and person Y speaks Mandarin, they cannot communicate. However, both person X and person Y can use emojis to converse.
Whilst some may feel that returning to symbols for language is a step backwards, expert linguists are pretty excited. Emojis have already far eclipsed hieroglyphics, an ancient Egyptian symbol-based language which took centuries to develop. To put this in perspective, hieroglyphics were developed over 3,500 years whilst emojis haven’t even been around for 20 years. In the earliest period of hieroglyphics, there were 700-900 words, and now in 2016 there are 1,788 emojis.
It’s only getting bigger…
As time goes on, it becomes clear that emojis aren’t just a phase, nor will they slow down any time soon. Unicode Consortium have recently proposed a new update which will increase the emoji count to 2,243. They intend to introduce more professional female emojis, two new flags, more family icons and a few other bits and pieces.
Although emojis are only used as a written language, it is a very exciting and interesting development in the linguistic world. But beyond the academic interest, emojis are loved on a much simpler level. Let’s be realistic, why wouldn’t you want to send an icon of cat crying with laughter or a smiling poo?