Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Emoji express emotions mere words cannot match

By Song Jingyi ( Updated: 2015-11-23 16:41

Emoji express emotions mere words cannot match

A person sends an emoji during a mobile online chat. [Photo/IC]

Why have people become so obsessed with emoji?

"Emoji embody a culture of playfulness and intimacy. Monie said. "By using emoji, it can somehow make the conversation more relaxing and funny. Also, when you start the first interaction with someone or small talk on the Internet, emoji is the best choice to fill an awkward and embarrassing pause."

Zhou Jimin, a postgraduate majoring in anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who similarly sends emoji in messages, said:" Emoji transcend linguistic borders. When I send text, I can't convey the real intention behind the words using a facial expression or tone. Simple emoji could convey a lot of hidden meanings. Look again at this face with tears of joy; don't you feel it suggests an overabundance of emotion? It might suggest the kind of glee that you will feel after finishing a heavy load of work. Emotion signals provide me a solution to lessen misunderstanding, which is one explanation for their quick proliferation."

Emoji are already butting their heads with traditional languages, but could they develop into a language? Tang Yinghong, a psychological teacher at Leshan Normal University, casts his expert eye over the pictures sweeping the world.

"As with any new medium, there are growing pains. First of all, different people have different interpretations about the same signal under the influence of region, culture and education. There is a cloud of meanings around emoji that makes it difficult to pin down its exact explanation," he said.

"Emotional signals, just like gestures, are not a language, at least, not yet. They must appear along with the speech or context to play a supplementary role to enhance smooth conversation. So this symbolic system won't take over verbal language or written language at all, let alone develop into dialect."

Other professionals or scholars also express worries about this trend. Despite this, they believe emoji are still increasingly rich form of communication and are an exciting evolution of the way we communicate in the digital world.

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