Since the 1990s, text messaging has become more and more important in people’s lives. Along with the phenomenal growth of this activity, has been the development of new ways of expressing thoughts and feelings through the emoticon.
This playful shorthand originally used various punctuation marks to approximate facial expressions. A happy face formed by a colon and a closing bracket symbol :), a sad face by a colon followed by an opening bracket symbol :( etc. These “western style” emoticons, tilted 90 degrees to the left, were improved by the Japanese and Korean versions which did not require any tilting ? for example the familiar ^^ to represent happy eyes.
Of course, it didn’t take long before the need for a more complex range of quickly expressed emotion-icons outgrew the restrictions of the keyboard. The emoji, a word formed by the Japanese words: e (picture) + moji (written character), first came into existence in the late 1990s through Docomo, a Japanese telecom company. This means of communication became widely successful in Japan, but it became a truly international phenomenon over the last 10 years with its inclusion in Apple’s iPhone, and subsequent use in other mobile operating systems.
Nowhere is it more popular than in South Korea, where the 40 million users of KakaoTalk exchange information and opinions with the aid of character-based emoji ‘stickers.’ Notable among these are the Kakao friends: Tube, a white duck with anger management issues; Frodo the dog and Neo, his glamorous blue cat girlfriend; Con, a lizard scientist creator and his creations: Muzi, a radish rabbit and Apeach the peach; and Jay-G, a very cool afro-sporting bear.
These characters, and others like them, allow people an opportunity to express an idea quickly, as well as awkward emotions in an ironic way: “I’m not angry- the duck is.”
Already very popular throughout East Asia, it is likely that its popularity will continue to grow worldwide. The first international Emojicon conference was held in San Francisco, California last November. With new developments in these cute sticker friends, it looks as though the emoji will only grow in popularity.
Ian Mcgonagle For The Teen Times (firstname.lastname@example.org)
1. Where did the word "emoji" come from?
2. How did people show a happy face using punctuations before?
3. How about a sad face?
1. Have you heard about Kakao friends? Who is your favorite?
2. Do you also use emojis? Why? Why not?
3. If you can design your own emoji, what will it look like?