Emoji symbol named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries
It is not shedding tears of sadness for the English language. It is a happy crying face, most commonly used as an LOL alternative.
Every year, Oxford Dictionaries’ lexicographers chose a word that captures the year’s biggest trends or changes in the English language. The organization knew it wanted to pick an emoji for 2015. The tiny illustrations that pepper social media and text conversations have seen a surge in popularity in recent years.
“You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st century communication,” said Oxford Dictionaries’ president Casper Grathwohl in a statement. “It’s not surprising that a pictographic script like emoji has stepped in to fill those gaps.”
The official name for the chosen emoji is “face with tears of joy,” according to the Unicode Consortium, the organization in charge of emoji standards. It was first introduced in 2010 and variations can be found on Android and iOS devices, on the web, and across social media.
There are more than 1,000 emoji characters, but Oxford could only chose one. A taco or unicorn emoji would have represented the most buzzed-about newcomers. The red heart is one of the oldest emojis.
Oxford Dictionaries teamed up with SwiftKey, a maker of emoji keyboards, to identify the most commonly used emoji. It found the tears of joy face was the most frequently used emoji in 2015, making up 17 percent of all emojis in the U.S. and 20 percentin the UK.
The emoji is the latest in a string of light-hearted picks from Oxford Dictionaries. Last year it went with “vape,” in 2013 it was “selfie,” and in 2012 it was “GIF.”
Oxford isn’t the first to pick an emoji for its word of the year; in 2014, the Global Language Monitor chose the heart emoji.
“The English Language is now undergoing a remarkable transformation unlike any in its 1400 year history — its system of writing, the alphabet, is gaining characters at amazing rate,”s aid Paul JJ Payack, President of the Global Language Monitor.