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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Emoji Code: The Linguistics Behind Smiley Faces and Scaredy Cats

Hi all! I'm back! I wasn't planning on coming back officially until October, but after the wonderful stack of books I picked up at Book Expo 2017, I would be remiss if I didn't post on the books I read that are coming out this month. 

We start with Vyvyan Evans' The Emoji Code: The Linguistics Behind Smiley Faces and Scaredy Cats. When I teach development courses, I usually devote one class to language development. Of course we spend a good deal of time talking about phonemic awareness and development, but I also devote some time to discussion on how and why language morphs. We talk about emoji's in terms of semantics, which is how we understand the meaning of sentences and phrases. Semantics are much easier to get in spoken word as opposed to written word, and electronic communication has made this even worse. I have argued for years that emojis allow us to insert semantics into our texting communication in order to express meaning to the recipient. That being said, when I saw that this book was on deck at Book Expo, I stalked the booth waiting for it to drop. 

I'm so glad that I did. Not only did I highlight and annotate the crap out of this book, I also sent it to my professors who teach language courses. I'll also reference it in my language lectures for my students. It's a valuable piece of writing to use in eduction, but the key to this book is that it's written for the layman. It's a book you or I can read on the couch, and wach chapter has anecdotes to support the argument as well as data that will make you stop and think. If you've been a long time follower of this blog, you know that I LOVE smart books that are accessible for the general reading population, and this fits into that category. 

I was a traditionalist early on with emoticons and emojis. I still don't believe they have. A place in professional emails, but I now use them fairly liberally in my personal communication. I've grown to see the value in them as enhancing written communication, and I've learned to embrace them. In fact, I just returned an email to a former student (he shared an article with me about the importance of reading) and ended with an emoji. I agree with Evans' estimation that emoji is not a language that can stand in and of itself -- you will have to pick up the book and read the argument yourself -- but they certainly LT are useful in terms of semantics. I love that they enhance language rather than attempt to replace it. So use emoji away, friends. 

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