‘The Emoji Code’: It’s So Much More Than Just a Smiley Face

Emojis are a joke, right? At least that’s the current thought surrounding the ubiquitous little symbols. Sure, they can be helpful when you’re texting a sarcastic message to an unsuspecting parent, but I would never dream of attaching one to a serious message. It would destruct the intent of the message almost instantly. Could you imagine attaching a crying face emoji to a message like, “Sorry for your loss”? Oh my, that just would not work because Emoji are still seen as light hearted and infantile.

After reading Vyvyan Evans’ The Emoji Code: The Linguistics Behind Smiley Faces and Scaredy Cats, your mind will probably not be changed about the current status of the Emoji. Evans’ offers the reader a deep look into the background and possibilities of the Emoji. For lovers of language, it’s a worthy trip.

Evans seems to be the current go-to guy on the topic of Emoji. He’s a professor of linguistics at Bangor University and he received his PhD in linguistics from Georgetown University nearly 20 years ago. He also writes a ton of books, and they are deep dives into language. Some titles include, The Structure of Time: Language. Meaning, and Temporal Cognition and The Language Myth: Why Language Is Not an Instinct.  After being assigned an article on the criminal implications of a message made from Emoji, he became stuck on the subject, and it became his primary subject for study. That brings us to the book.

To begin, Evans sets us up with the history and current state of Emoji, and it turns out to be some of the most enlightening information in the book. Any assessment of the value of a book should include the number of valuable conversation pieces presented within. This information given early in the book is where I found myself telling friends, “Did you know…”, or “I read today that…”, every time I left the house. This is where the reader learns about the existence of Unicode and all of its peculiar intricacies. This is where Evans…

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