A sign of the times: Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is an emoji

By Shawn Knight
Nov 17, 2015
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  1. For the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year isn’t a word at all – it’s a pictograph, better known in today’s culture as an emoji.

    The publication said in a blog post that there were other strong candidates from a range of fields but ultimately, they felt the Face with Tears of Joy emoji best reflected the ethos, mood and preoccupations of 2015. But how did it come to that conclusion?

    To help analyze emoji usage, the Oxford University Press partnered with mobile technology specialist SwiftKey. Their findings indicate that the Face with Tears of Joy emoji was the most used globally in 2015, having made up 20 percent of all emojis used in the UK and 17 percent of those in the US through October. That’s up from just four percent and nine percent usage, respectively.

    Despite having been around since the late 1990s, it wasn’t until this year that adoption really gained traction among youth. That’s not to say adults and even brands haven’t embraced the emoji as public figures such as Hillary Clinton and brands like Domino’s welcome them (it’s now possible to text a pizza emoji to Domino’s to order your favorite pizza). Even more important is the fact that they've become a nuanced form of expression that can cross language barriers.

    While the designation may seem preposterous to some, the Oxford Dictionaries has had its finger on the pulse of modern culture for some time now. For example, its Word of the Year in 2013 was “selfie” and last year, “vape.”

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  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,106   +1,376

    Even 30 years ago it was acknowledged that the world's most widely spoken language is Broken English.

    And the way they tend to extend it is by breaking it further, whether in a nod to mediocrity or to recognize that the Oxford committee has lost their passion about the cultural identity of the language, is likely to become another question lost in translation.

    English isn't my first language, but I've been happy to know that when I don't know something I can look it up in a dictionary. I would never accept a dictionary written by the illiterate or inspired by their lack of education. And Oxford dictionary is supposed to be a source of good education, not a vacuum for collective ignorance (for that we have social networks).
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2015
    Duckeenie and davislane1 like this.
  3. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,370   +2,164

    In terms of linguistic history, English has always conformed to a pattern of dumbing down, or simplification. OD selecting a pictograph as Word of the Year is merely a quantum extension of that pattern. By which I mean, they've skipped with the linguistic foreplay and taken us right back to 30,000 BC.

    Ugh! *bangs on desk*
    VitalyT likes this.
  4. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Maniac Posts: 797   +217

    Problem is that what we see as proper now would probably be seen as wrong by someone from a few centuries ago since the language has changed that much. I agree with some of the words being added now but English changes, it has never been static and the English spoken today is just a form of broken English from long ago, which was probably just a broken version of that English which was in the beginning just a mashup of many languages.
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,457   +1,759

    How about if we're "politically correct", (I'm sticking my finger down my throat as I say that), and term it, "dialectic English", or perhaps, "English with various ethnic flavors".

    In any case, my sole mission with this post, is to grammar Nazi, someone who himself is grammar nazi-ing (*). And believe me, I'm with you all the way on this railing against the destruction of the language stuff. It pains me deeply to point out that you don't give a "node" to something, you give a "nod" to it..:oops: (And yes, spelling mistakes do matter, they tarnish the righteousness of your cause).

    I must say though, this is a whole lot more articulate than at least 50% of our native English, (American variant), speakers!(y)

    (*) OK, "nazi-ing" is, granted a coinage. The lack of a capital "N" in "Nazi" drives the spell checker nuts. However, I don't believe "Google" should be capitalized either, when it's being used as a verb.

    So, "Google is a PITA, the way they constantly track you". However, "I googled deciduous conifers earlier this evening, to find out which species actually do drop their needles during the winter. I mean really, who the hell capitalizes verbs? I mention this in the context that "Google", was entered into the same dictionary recently, and as a verb no less. (IIRC).
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2015
    VitalyT likes this.
  6. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,106   +1,376

    I wouldn't capitalized google indeed, because there it failed me again! :)

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