THE AMATEUR WORD NERD: Emojis — way beyond just a happy face

By Barbara McAlister

Word of the Day: Emoji

You probably know emojis are those digital images used to express an idea or emotion. It comes from the Japanese words for “picture” and “letter.” It’s gone way beyond the initial smiley faces in the 1990s to well over 3,000 pictograms that express everything from weather to political views. New ones are added every year and it’s the job of The Unicode Consortium (Unicode Inc.), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Mountain View, Calif., to decide which emojis make the cut. If you have an idea for a new emoji, EmojiRequest.com is a worldwide platform you can use to request one.
In 2018, the lobster finally got its own emoji. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, released a statement on Twitter thanking the consortium for “recognizing the impact of this critical crustacean, in Maine and across the country.” The lobster emoji was not without controversy: the first proposed image was missing two legs, causing a great debate among lobster purists. The final design corrected this oversight, keeping supporters and possibly lobsters themselves, happy.
Whether you are a lobster lover or not, emojis are not going anywhere soon. They are a universal set of characters that allow easy wide nonverbal communication. As with all languages, meanings evolve with use and some popular emojis have acquired hidden meaning. You might want to check one of the many online emoji dictionaries and guides to prevent an unintentional message by misusing, for example, one of the fruit emojis.