Entertainment » Books

The Emoji Code

by Logan Quigley
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Aug 2, 2017
The Emoji Code

If you own a smartphone, chances are good that you've either sent or received at least one emoji in the last few hours. Since their introduction as standard to the iPhone in 2011, those little yellow faces have been the object of everything from obsession to ire - and the craze isn't stopping anytime soon. Why are emojis so popular? What do they add to our texts, emails, and tweets? And perhaps most pressing of all, why are so many people convinced they are destroying our writing?

In his thorough breakdown of what makes these tiny icons just so addicting (and, for some, infuriating), Bangor University Professor of Linguistics Vyvyan Evans problematizes and answers these questions. "The Emoji Code: The Linguistics Behind Smiley Faces and Scaredy Cats" recognizes emojis for what they are -- a truly innovative addition to written communication -- and explores what this new code reveals about us, how it changes our ability to communicate, and what makes the little yellow faces distinctly human.

"The Emoji Code" is a linguistic analysis written for the everyperson -- Evans carefully lays out the lines of his argument, establishing key terms early on (including the difference between capitalized 'Emoji' -- the code itself -- and lowercase 'emoji' -- the individual symbols) and acquainting his readers with necessary concepts. The danger of such a book, of course, is the chance that some readers may feel left behind or lost during particularly dense sections; in anticipation of this, Evans openly acknowledges difficult or intricate segments of his argument and rephrases nearly every key point he makes for clarity. All this care and attention to detail makes "The Emoji Code" a thoughtful and informative first look into the linguistic world behind Emoji and textspeak without overwhelming casual readers with too much academic prose or large data sets.

A book about effective communication in the digital age, "The Emoji Code" practices the very ideas it explores in order to produce a volume that is accessible for any reader despite (or perhaps because of) its careful research and academic origins.

If "The Emoji Code" stumbles, it is in this determined effort to ensure that the book is accessible to all audiences; sometimes technical and theoretical while at other times basic in its analogies and explanations, "The Emoji Code" is almost a book for academics and almost a book for casual readers, but not wholly a book for either. This ambivalence toward its audience, however, is also what makes Evans' newest book an important publication in today's world -- it asks its casual readers to challenge themselves with new terms and complex concepts while simultaneously demonstrating to academic readers how to formulate their own work for wider audiences. A book about effective communication in the digital age, "The Emoji Code" practices the very ideas it explores in order to produce a volume that is accessible for any reader despite (or perhaps because of) its careful research and academic origins.

Before sending your next text message or posting your next tweet, consider whether an emoji would clarify your tone and add nuance to your digital voice. "The Emoji Code" not only explains how and why this happens; it also charts a path forward into the future of written communication.

"The Emoji Code: The Linguistics Behind Smiley Faces and Scaredy Cats"
Vyvyan Evans
Picador Hardcover
$26.00

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