Emoji: What does that one mean?

Do you know the difference between an emoticon and an emoji?

Emoticons are text based “emotion icons” that usually represent a facial expression.

You know, ;-).

Note that modern web browsers may translate emoticons into images.

Computer scientists say emoticons were “invented” on September 1982 by computer scientist Scott Fahlman when he suggested on a Carnegie Mellon University message board that 🙂 and 😦 could be used to distinguish jokes from serious statements online.

“Various ‘joke markers’ were suggested, and in the midst of that discussion it occurred to me that the character sequence 🙂 would be an elegant solution – one that could be handled by the ASCII-based computer terminals of the day. So I suggested that. In the same post, I also suggested the use of 😦 to indicate that a message was meant to be taken seriously, though that symbol quickly evolved into a marker for displeasure, frustration, or anger.”

But we’re talking about emoji, not emoticons.

Emoji were created in the late 1990s by NTT DoCoMo, a Japanese telecommunications company, for their i-mode messaging platform. It became so popular that other Japanese mobile carriers began to copy the idea. This lead to problems in standardization, and they could only be used in Japan.

In came the Unicode Consortium to manage a global standard for the e (picture) moji (characters).

“Unicode provides a unique number for every character, no matter what the platform, no matter what the program, no matter what the language.”

Most recently, emoji were in the news because Apple added “diversity” to some of the images by adding skin tone with the launch of iOS 8.3.

Because emoji were created in Japan, the meaning of some of the images are lost in translation. This leads emoji meaning different things in different places.

Here are a few emoji that are commonly misunderstood. The links at the bottom of this post are other online resources so you can look up your favorite emoji and see if you’re using it correctly.

e1a e2a e3a e4a

More online resources:

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