July 17 was World Emoji Day.

To help celebrate, the App Store highlighted apps that let you create and do fun things with emoji. And Apple will be releasing even more new emoji later this year. 

But the emoji on your iPhone are different from their ancestors – the punctuation-based emoticons we use in email. While working at Carnegie Mellon University computer lab in 1982, Scott Fahlman suggested using the emoticons :-) and :-( to express emotion. As email became the standard way to communicate for all of us, those kind of keystroke emoticons became popular too.

This launched a new opportunity for bored office workers around the world as Fahlman’s simple smiley face :-) soon evolved into Homer Simpson ~(_8^(I), and thousands of other amazing keyboard creations.

Emoji are part of our language.

Icons have been a common part of our communication system for years. Think of the man or woman picture above the restroom door, the recycle symbol, or the food and fuel icons on highway exit signs.

Like it or not, emoji are a growing part of our lexicon. The word emoji was even added to Oxford Dictionaries in 2013. But these cute (or annoying) pictures have been around for longer than you might think. In fact, it was common for people in the 1600s to use hand-drawn emoticons in casual writing!

I recently read an article in the United Airlines Hemispheres Magazine that talked about how using emoji to substitute or complement written words now influences linguistics around the world.

This trend is due in large part to the fast rise of social media, and the shift from desktop computers to handheld devices. In fact, a third of the conversations on Tinder include at least one emoji. And   and  are used most often.

Even language experts agree that emoji are here to stay. “Emoji are the world’s fastest-growing language,” says Jurga Žilinskienė, CEO of Today Translations. “It’s such an exciting new frontier.”

Emoji fonts are influencing outcomes in the courtroom too.

A certain text font has been in the news lately #fontgate

And now, according to this article in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, lawyers can no longer dismiss the emoji fonts as frivolous clutter.

So if you the next time you see an email at work sprinkled with emoji, just  and have a .



Things we 

Abraham Lincoln may have used an emoticon in a speech in 1862, according this New York Times transcript.



Things to 

If you use emoji more often, you might do that thing more often. At least according to this expert




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