The new language of the heart ❤

     As a young child I loved to doodle . It helped to  express my modest artistic inclinations without the pressure of having to exhibit a  body of work.Doodles would find their way onto the margins of my single ruled 200 page notebook , on the last few pages of my biology record , on the phone index / address diary and sometimes even on the newspaper as I attempted the crossword !I confess I had once paid a princely sum for a doodle ! I was mortified when I found out soon after  that the page was torn from a classmates notebook while he was out at basketball practice ! So much for the conceit and follies of youth !! And we did not have doodle   pattern books those days !! I have been pulled up by my teachers for doodling while listening to a lecture in college ! To make my point more plausible I  truly believed that it fostered cognitive skills ( I am serious , there are a lot of scholarly articles on this .)

Some of my favourite ‘subjects’  were hearts, flowers, stars butterflies, random borders, a skull and most definitely the name  of the person to whom a  note or letter was addressed . I thought it made the whole  exercise of written communication very  personal !Therefore is it safe to assume that  this simple applied visual language was the older  cousin of what was to become the new craze on the block … Emoticons ?The jury is still out on this one !The more I reach out for emoticons / emojis in my typed texts , the more deeply I fall in love with it as a concept !

Not so long ago daughter dearest commented    “Maa you use far too many emoticons in your texts ! Do you even know what each of those mean ?? Now I’m a grown woman who peppers pretty much every text and social media post with smileys, hearts, flowers , well almost every icon available on my emoticon / emoji keyboard . I do understand what they mean . Honestly do I ?? I gave it a serious thought and my answer was NO !! Because if I did .. I would have known what my friend meant when she sent a thumbs icon 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 in reply to my question ” What went wrong with your surgery ? Did you speak to your operating surgeon ? This is scary !”

At the risk of sounding like an ignoramus here is the message I sent requesting  her to clarify “Hola beautiful my understanding of emoticons is questionable so help me here .What am I supposed to read from this  👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 ?And this what she said …”Aru basically a 👍🏻mns  gr8 ,awsm, luvly, No fyr, be hapy 😜” The exasperation in her text was evident !

A valuable learning experience ! Now in my world 👍🏻👍🏻Thumbs up is a brand of cola or at most it is used to convey  that the  ‘Mezze platter is delicious ‘ when the the hostess has moved across the room and cannot hear me over the din of conversation !

So you see why I had a mission to accomplish here  ! I was curious to learn more about the history and purpose  behind emoticons ! A dear friend from the Linguistic Research Apprentice Practicum (Department of Linguistics )University of California Berkeley  handheld me thru this laborious  study . Thank you Bear  for your patience !

An  Emoticon(ee-moht-i-kon), (/ᵻˈmoʊtᵻkɒn/, or /iˈmoʊtᵻkɒn/) is a pictorial representation of a facial expression using punctuation marks , numbers and letters… usually written to express a person’s feelings or emotions !( what did the 😊 say to the 🏃‍♀️”In my world , I am just a colon and  capital D.”)

In social media ,emoticons have played a significant role in communication through technology and some devices have provided stylized pictures that do not use punctuation. They offer another range of ‘tone’ and ‘feeling’  that portray specific emotions through facial gestures in text -based cyber communication.

On the heels  came the name, a portmanteau of the phrase ’emotion icon’! In contrast to the grassroots creation of the emoticon ,the Emojis were created in the late 1990s by NTT DoCoMo, a Japanese communications firm. The name is a contraction of  “e and moji “which roughly translates to mean a pictograph.

Emoji and emoticons are not the same thing and the continued confusion of the two will not stand.Really ? So what is the difference ??

An Emoticon is a typographic display of a facial representation, used to convey emotion in a text only medium 😄 While Emoji’s  are actual pictures that can convey almost anything  from a Check – in  at a Salon for a haircut 💇 to an embarrassing ..Sorry  I missed your call,  I was in the Shower  🛀🏻 or the Loo 🚽!!

And while emoticons were invented to portray emotion in environments where nothing but basic text is available, emoji are actually extensions to the character sets  used by most operating systems today… Unicode. ( Trivia :Unicode even provides a range of skin tones for human emojis based on the Fitzpatrick scale for classifying human colour 👌🏻👌👌🏼👌🏽👌🏾👌🏿)

It therefore makes it mandatory for each company to provide its own interpretations of what the emoji descriptions should actually look like and the tragedy  is that they don’t always agree.For example take the implementations of the “dancer” emoji… for Twitter and Apple, it’s a female flamenco dancer. But for Google, it was, until recently, a John Travolta look alike dancing disco style. And now it’s a weird blobby thing. So if you’re about to tell someone special  “you look gorgeous, like a 💃”, make sure she  isn’t  reading it on a new Android phone !

Oh, and then there are stickers, the custom pictures used in a number of instant messaging clients such as Facebook Messenger or Line. Some apps refer to them as emoji, but they’re fully specific to the app, and can’t be cut and pasted anywhere else except when they’re treated as an image.

I had to patiently go through what was on offer by different platforms . I also discovered about the emoji/ emoticon  translator  .. like iPhone to android !!

Those from my antiquity may remember using a Clarks table way back in school .. well now we have an Emoticon / Emoji Table v5.0 !! This chart provides an exhaustive list of the Unicode emoji characters and sequences, with images from different vendors.. complete with CLDR name, date, source, and keywords!!

Emoticons have basically saved human communication  especially cross cultural communication . I don’t speak Swahili and it didn’t really  matter because I was able to comfortably communicate with my co passenger on the train to New York ! A picture says a thousand words ! I am totally smitten with this new language of the heart !! The joy of knowing that a single symbol can very effectively convey a complex message , is incomparable!

Así que mis queridos amigos, comparten vuestras opiniones. Deseandote lo mejor !! You dont have master the emojipedia to decipher this … 👬👭👩‍👩‍👧‍👦🌞❤️🤗😘💋😍🌹

( Friends and family have a great day ! Love ,hugs , kisses and more )

Gratitude :

#Heartfelt gratitude to Dr Scott Fahlmam a Carnegie Mellon  professor for inventing the humble Smiley in 1982 !

Watched :



Read :

#The Semiotics of Emoji. The Rise of Visual Language in the Age of the Internet by Marcel Danesi. (professor of semiotics and linguistic anthropology at the University of Toronto in Canada.)

5 thoughts on “The new language of the heart ❤

  1. I so love your style of expression! It’s just so beautiful. Thinking of writing on emoticons and emojis is wonderful! A tribute to what we use on a daily basis without which our conversations are incomplete. 🙂 ♡

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you my love ! Your appreciation means a lot to me ! I used them with such ease.. I dint realise when Emoticons and Emojis became this close .. almost like family !!! So a little research तो बनता है ना ? S


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