The emoji keyboard has, in some form or another, been around almost as long as we’ve been communicating digitally. Old emojis were little more than keyboard symbols, but we now have extensive libraries of actual symbols.
Have you ever thought about how emoji meanings help in communication? If so, here’s an explanation.
History of Emoji
Simply put, emojis are pictograms that have meaning. This isn’t a new idea – think about Egyptian hieroglyphs. Emojis are a continuation of this idea, where the image means a word or feeling rather than a group of letters making a written word.
The previous version of emojis – emoticons – started in chatrooms in the 1990s and consisted of keyboard symbols (such as brackets, colons, etc.). Newer emojis started in the early 2000s, and by around 2008, we had the first version of the emoji keyboard as we know it.
The word “emoji” comes from Japanese. It essentially means written picture character (or pictogram). We use the Japanese word because the first proper emoji keyboard was designed by a Japanese coder called Shigetaka Kurita. His company could only send emails that were limited to 250 characters, so emojis were an easier way of getting the message across. And that’s pretty much still why we use them today.
Emojis you use on your smartphone, such as the emoji heart and emoji laughing face, are maintained by the Unicode Consortium. Each year, it shortlists symbols that people suggest, take a vote on them, and then turn them into new emojis. This is partly why they’re so popular – people get to use symbols they’ve actually suggested.
In fact, up to 92% of the world’s internet population have used emojis. Surprisingly, emojis are popular in the workplace, with 71% of people thinking it makes them more likeable, and 62% saying it boosts their credibility.
Understanding Emoji Meanings
The symbols on the emoji keyboard have fairly obvious meanings, right? After all, the emoji laughing face can only mean the user finds something funny. Well, not necessarily.
Emojis can mean different things in different cultures, which can potentially lead to difficulties in communication. This is because, ultimately, emojis only mean what we think they mean. If that sounds a bit confusing, look at it this way. In Western cultures, the thumbs up is a sign of approval, but in Bangladesh, it’s an insult.
The same is true for emojis because of the cultural ideas we link to the symbols. For example, in Western cultures, angel wings imply innocence. In China, however, it can be a symbol of death.
There are plenty more examples of symbols on the emoji keyboard meaning different things. However, popular pictures, such as the emoji heart, generally have universal meaning, as there’s not much else they can mean.
A List of Common Emojis
You’re probably already familiar with the emoji keyboard, but here’s a brief list of some of the most popular options worldwide.
- Heart emoji
- Laughing face emoji
- Crying laughing emoji
- Flames emoji
- Loudly crying face
- Smiling face with heart-shaped eyes
- Folded hands (that look like 2 people high-fiving)
- Vomiting face emoji
- Smiling face with sunglasses
- Winking face with tongue
It may come as no surprise, but the flag emojis are some of the least popular options. According to one survey, the face with tears of joy emoji was the most popular choice in the first 6 months of 2022.
Emoji Compatibility and Use
The emoji keyboard is most effectively used on phones and tablets, as they generally have a Unicode symbol keyboard built into their standard keyboard. As you probably know, this makes emojis super accessible so we can use them as much as we want when posting on social media.
You can see this clearly when you look at the kinds of apps people use most on mobile devices. For example, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all heavy on the emoji keyboard use. On the other hand, services that are best on a computer (such as Reddit) don’t feature emojis as heavily.
Using emojis on a desktop or notebook isn’t as easy because they don’t have a specific keyboard for them. As such, your 2 options are:
Download a Plugin
If you run Google Chrome on your computer, you can get an emoji plugin. In fact, there are plenty, but Emoji Keyboard is probably the best example. Once installed, it pops up in the top right corner of your Chrome window. From there, you type your message, add the emoji, and then copy and paste it wherever you want to send it.
Sure, this isn’t the easiest method, but it’s basically the set method for getting emojis on a computer.
Copy and Paste
The other main option is the simple emoji copy and paste method. For this, you’ll need to open a website, such as iEmoji, and choose the symbol you want. You then copy and paste it into whatever service you’re using.
Depending on what sort of computer you have, you might have other options. For example, if you have a notepad (i.e., a tablet that’s essentially a laptop), you should have an emoji keyboard built in. Also, recent versions of programs like Microsoft Word may have an emoji keyboard included.
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