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The Emoji Code: How Smiley Faces, Love Hearts and Thumbs Up are Changing the Way We Communicate Kindle Edition
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Evans discusses the meaning of language and what makes a language. He compares Latin and English grammar to show that we need not arrange words in any particular order to make sense. But grammar is still important, and Evans believes that it is possible to imbue Emoji with grammar. Although he raises and tries to answer the question whether Emoji will evolve into a true language, he thinks is a question that misunderstands the function and significance of Emoji. This is what he discusses in detail from chapter 4.
Emoji is pictorial and communicates in silence. It functions well in explicating emotion (hence, ‘emoticons’), it complements the spoken word. He identifies six ways in which this can be achieved by Emoji. First, it does so by substitution – we can either say ‘yes’ or we can nod our head, and hence a thumbs up emoji indicates OK; second, it can reinforce speech, like our shaking of the head when we say ‘no’; third, it adds communicative value to show to prompt an ironic reading; fourth, to add information; fifth, providing emphasis or accentuation; and it manages the flow of an ongoing discourse – by using the same gesture or Emoji at the start and at a later point to tie up two points in the conversation thread.
The book concludes with the author’s ruminations about the future of communication and the role of Emoji. But that, he concedes, is not easy, mitigating his own efforts by the scene in the 1982 version of Blade Runner where Harrison Ford still rang from a hard wired phone – because even in 1982, no one could conceive of the mobile phone. 😊
It's possible that thoughts from this work will filter through later on into more distilled writings of his, but at the moment this feels like work in progress.