What hieroglyphics, emoji, and stickers have in common

Excerpt from this article:

The oldest written language in the world didn’t have an alphabet. When written language began, it wasn’t used to ‘sound out’ words the way many writing systems do today; instead, each symbol represented a word (or occasionally part of a word). If that sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because speaking with pictures is a familiar concept — modern Chinese (hanzi) is a kind of logographic writing system, as is Japanese kanji. Younger readers, of course, may jump to an even more modern example of a logographic writing system — stickers.

There has been a lot of ink spilled about how stickers and emoji are bringing about the death of modern communication, but that draws an incorrect (and Western-biased, and frankly kind of racist) parallel: that language evolved from a logographic language (hieroglyphics, say) into an alphabetic language (English). In point of fact, English didn’t evolve from a logographic system at all; it’s a cousin, not a child. And Mandarin, whose billion active speakers make it the single most spoken language in the world, uses a syllable-based logographic language system.

Now, linguists may object to the classification of emoji as a logographic writing system.

 

Safety pins as a symbol of solidarity against racism

Safety Pin

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Post-Brexit, people in the UK started wearing safety pins to show their stance against racism and their solidarity with immigrants.

…In the wake of the election [in the US] and reports of racism incidents across the nation, some are advocating using the safety pin strategy here too.

… There’s no safety pin emoji, but some people are adding the paperclip emoji to their Twitter usernames as a virtual world counterpart to the safety pin.

 

Emoji diversity: how ‘silly little faces’ can make a big difference

‘Emoji may seem trivial, but when you aren’t represented by something that’s so widely used, it’s a problem,’ says researcher Kate Miltner.

Excerpt from this article (thanks for the link, Paul M!):

Emoji users feel a significant ownership over these tiny digital symbols, as evidenced by the reaction when Apple swapped the gun emoji for a water pistol and changed the peach emoji to look less like a butt, or when a Saudi teen designed her own headscarf-wearing emoji…

Yet there are more serious cultural problems highlighted by the rise of emoji, particularly how to make them more inclusive to people of different races, genders and physical abilities. Until a range of skintones were introduced for emoji in 2015, there were no options for making emoji anything other than white (or cartoon yellow) – and even the new set of modifiers were only introduced after public outrage about lack of diversity…

“Emoji may seem trivial, just silly little faces, but when you aren’t represented by something that’s so widely used, it’s a problem. The values either intentionally – or unintentionally – baked into the systems we use on a daily basis can deeply impact people and how they navigate their world,” said Miltner, a PhD student at USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, who conducted extensive interviews with, and analyzed hundreds of emails from, the Unicode Consortium, the official body which standardizes emoji.

Judging Others by Their Email Tics

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…Sure, there was a time it may have been appropriate, even cool, to tout the default “Sent from my iPhone,” a programmed plug-in (and a genius little bit of branding). But these days, that one-liner signals only one thing: bore. So instead, you must come up with something witty. “Sent from a bumpy tarmac,” you might write, followed by a custom GIF. “Envoi de mon iPhone,” if you want to be fancy (and French).

…And so goes the tyranny of judging one another by the minutiae of our email tone. I’m not just talking signoffs like “cheers” or “thanks” (which, for what it’s worth, have prompted a debate of their own). I’m talking next-level nuance: a well-placed emoji, a perfectly timed GIF; what microseconds between replies say about the sender.

“This isn’t just email, this is identity,” said Hilary Campbell, a 25-year-old cartoonist in Brooklyn. “I feel like I’m always trying to balance this sense of being a smart, sensible, reliable person who is also very FUN and quirky.”

…Research has found that when parties are getting along, they tend to mimic each other’s subtle speech patterns: “language synchrony,” as it is known. In which case, if I email with proper capitalization, and you reply with an all-lowercase email, should I be taking offense? “That’s a classic power move,” the digital strategist Victor Pineiro said. “You can’t be bothered to craft a properly capitalized email?”

 

The Last Emoji

sprint last emoji

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Sprint has unveiled the ultimate emoji as a statement against texting while driving.

…According to Adweek, Sprint and Alma chose Miami as the location for the sculpture, and placed it there April 29, because Florida remains one of the few states that does not prohibit texting while driving as a primary offense. This means that texting drivers can only be issued citations if they’ve been pulled over for another traffic offense.

How Do Olds Use Emoji? Incorrectly, According to Wired.

160830_ft_emojis

Excerpt from this article:

Alongside the long piece, doggedly and awesomely reported by Mary H. K. Choi, Wired also ran a glossary of emoji and what they signify to flirtatious teenagers. If you are old and out of touch like me, you will want to take a look and comprehend, perhaps for the first time, the magnificent spuriousness of all your texting assumptions.

…For one thing, Choi reports that the blushing smiley face actually conveys polite romantic refusal. She glosses it as “Hi. Um. Not interested. Sorry? Sorry!” This was news to my crack team of old person emoji decoders (age range mid-20s to 40s), who use the blushing smiley mostly to express that they are “flattered” (but not in a romantic context), “smug,” or “satisfied.” I, 28, personally deploy the face with friends as a more intimate and affectionate alternative to the simple smile. Another twentysomething in an office Slack channel sees it as a “cuter” version of the traditional smiley.

…Another surprising fact: For high-schoolers, the little monkey with his hands over his eyes (“see no evil”) communicates bashfulness, either a shy acknowledgment of someone else’s suggestive comment or an attempt to soften your own…  But how do the olds use the “see no evil” monkey? “I think it means ‘Oh no,’ ” offered a 28-year-old friend via text. “Or maybe ‘I shouldn’t have seen that.’ ” “I can’t look,” was another suggestion. “Embarrassment” was a third. One woman in her 30s said she could imagine entrusting to the monkey a conspiratorial assurance: “I didn’t see anything.” (Person A: “I just found $5 and pocketed it right away.” Person B: [see no evil monkey.])