Oxford made history by announcing this week that the “Word of the Year” would not be an actual word, but an image known as an emoji.
“Emoji have come to embody a core aspect of living in a digital world that is visually driven, emotionally expressive, and obsessively immediate,” the Oxford team stated.
Shigetaka Kurita from Japan is credited with inventing emjois in 1999, but the reality is that using images to communicate one of the oldest forms of human language from prehistoric times etching on caves can be found in cultures around the globe.
The power of images in global communication that transcends language, race, and geography, is a beautiful thing especially in our technologically connected world. Just think of how quickly Jean Jullian’s “Peace for Paris” image of the Eiffel Tower combined with the peace symbol spread across the internet moments after last Friday’s terrorist attacks.
As noted in a recent Ad Week article about Jullian’s image, a prominent author and designer put it best: “We need symbols to express what we cannot say.”
As someone who runs a global business, I’m so inspired to think of modern marketing and society’s ability to leverage the language of images and symbols to communicate across boarders. Even if emojis do look quite cartoonish and juvenile, the power of what they can accomplish is important. Bravo to the team at Oxford.
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