I pride myself on being good at expressing myself in words and even video. But I'm ashamed of how bad I am at writing in emoji. Trying to decipher all these tiny pictures feels like rocket science. Have you understood any of this article so far, or is it just frustrating?
Is this really the future of digital communications? Nine variations of a cat face?! Salsa dancing ladies? But whether we word lovers like it or not, emojis are here to stay. Their popularity has skyrocketed, and the emoji palette has been growing on smartphones and computers. Oh, I give up! Give me words! Real words! I get :e-mail: now with little characters in the subject line. My text messages and social media feeds are increasingly full of :smiley: -only sentences or thoughts.
Emoji is the new lingua franca. And like learning any new language, brain power, practice and tricks are required—especially for an idiom that has :poop: and :ghost: but no equal sign.
Unfortunately, there is no :rose: :gem: for emoji yet, so this week I took it upon myself to create my own :smiley: :school: and become a better emoji-unicator. Yes, a small character can be a substitute for a word, or many words—similar to Chinese. But taken together, the language lacks the grammar, vocabulary, syntax and semantics of a true language. The result can be complete and utter ambiguity, which is why most are confused by a string of characters sewn together.
Take, for instance, this coupling: :car: :house:. Davis said. He thought I was a bit :chestnut: :chestnut: :chestnut: for even attempting to write the first part of this article strictly in :smiley:. But even to just supplement text with emoji, you need to adjust your brain to think visually: how to communicate in cartoon. For me, that meant replacing certain quick responses and feelings with some basic characters.
When I started to embrace that, I felt in some peculiar way that my text messages had more emotion. Downey told me. Or :toilet: to say, well, you know? One reason is that emoji comes from :jp:. That also means many potentially useful characters are missing. We are now starting to see an expansion of the emoji language, including some very American characters. But this is where our :iphone: are failing us. The :smiley: keyboards on iPhone or Android :iphone: are utterly disorganized and unfamiliar.
The recent iOS 8. David Smith, the creator of the app, plans to add support for it into the app next month. I also fell in :heart: with Keymoji. In each category of organization—People, Nature, Objects—you can simply vertically scroll to see the options, no annoying horizontal swiping through pages of screens.
However, on a whole, Android users lack quality emoji characters and apps. Because the software platform creators control the visual representation, an emoji sent by an iPhone user to an Android phone user will :eyes: different—in some cases, really different.
Take my beloved :dancer:. Red dress. Great moves. Yes, a yellow blob with a rose in its mouth. Send that to someone, and the :rose: :gun:. A few Android apps promise to ease the pain and translate Android emoji to iOS.
Playful chitchat, literal conversation and sentiment all benefit from these little characters. Write to Joanna Stern at joanna. So I decided to The different faces of emoji Woman with bunny ears. Note: Apple emoji alphabet used except where noted. Additional characters from Emojipedia.