You’ve probably used the smiley face emoticon 🙂 in text messages, on Facebook and maybe even email. Emoticons use images and characters to express an emotion in a text-based medium. Emoticons are like emotional punctuation – they provide an emotional nuance or human element to text-based communication and help the reader to understand your message.
Emojis on the other hand, are a sophisticated extension of emoticons. If emoticons convey emotion, emojis use images to convey ideas or concepts. For example you could use an image of an alarm clock (⏰) , train (🚇) and office building (🏢) to send a message stating that it’s “time to go to work.” Emojis are used because they take less time to type and use less characters.
Emoji is the new lingua franca of digital communication. Emojis are now part of the unicode standard to ensure consistency across platforms and devices. According to the BBC emoji is the fastest growing language in the UK and their use is becoming more common in mainstream communication. Chevrolet went so far as to write a press release entirely in emoji and Penguin have released emoji-versions of Shakespeare.
If you’re interested in brushing up on your emoji fluency there are thousands of apps to help you translate English to Emoji and an extensive list of emoji meanings can also be found in the Emojipedia.