On 2/14/2018 12:53 AM, Erik Pedersen via Unicode wrote:
Unlike text composed of the world’s traditional alphabetic, syllabic, abugida 
or CJK characters, emoji convey no utilitarian and unambiguous information 

I think this represents a misunderstanding of the function of emoji in written communication, as well as a rather narrow concept of how writing systems work and why they have evolved.


The invention and development of word spacing, punctuation, and casing, among other elements of typography, represent the addition of meta-level information to written communication that assists in legibility, helps identify lexical and syntactic units, conveys prosody, and other information that is not well conveyed by simply setting down letters of an alphabet one right after the other.

Emoticons were invented, in large part, to fill another major hole in written communication -- the need to convey emotional state and affective attitudes towards the text. This is the kind of information that face-to-face communication has a huge and evolutionarily deep bandwidth for, but which written communication typically fails miserably at. Just adding a little happy face :-) or sad face :-( to a short email manages to convey some affect much more easily and effectively than adding on entire paragraphs trying to explain how one feels about what was just said. Novelists have the skill to do that in text without using little pictographic icons, but most of us are not professional writers! Note that emoticons were invented almost as soon as people started communicating in digital mediums like email -- so long predate anything Unicode came up with.

Other kinds of emoji that we've been adding recently may have a somewhat more uncertain trajectory, but the ones that seem to be most successful are precisely those which manage to connect emotionally with people, and which assist them in conveying how they *feel* about what they are writing.

So I would suggest that people not just dismiss (or diss) this ongoing phenomenon. Emoji are widely used for many good reasons. And of course, like any other aspect of writing, get mis-used in various ways, as well. But you can be sure that their impact on the evolution of world writing is here to stay and will be the topic of serious scholastic papers by scholars of writing for decades to come. ;-)


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