If you thought the use of emoticons was a recent phenomenon, you would be wrong. Nearly 400 years ago, way back in 1635, a Slovak notary drew an emoticon to indicate his satisfaction with his town’s municipal financial records. He did not work for KPMG 😉
The dots and dashes used in Morse code also became a forerunner of modern emoticons. In a telegraphic operator’s manual the use of the number 73 in Morse code to express “love and kisses” was documented in 1857. This was later changed to the more formal “best regards”.
I was always under the impression that emoticons and emojis were the same thing, but apparently not. According to Wikipedia an emoticon (derived from “emotion” and “icon”) is a representation of a facial expression “using punctuation marks, numbers and letters”, usually written to express feelings or moods. The three most popular and best known emoticons are probably the smiley face, the sad face and the wink, respectively typed as 🙂 🙁 and then 😉
Unlike emoticons, emojis are actual images. The word is a combination of the Japanese e for “picture” and moji for “character”. They were first only used on Japanese mobile phones in the late 1990s, but became famous and instantly popular after their inclusion in Apple’s iPhone in 2011. Android and other operating systems soon followed suit and now even Facebook has countless variations of these colourful little symbols. In 2015 Oxford Dictionaries named “emoji” the Word of the Year.
Different companies provide their own interpretations of what the emojis should actually look like. Take the variations of the “dancer” emoji: for Twitter and Apple, it’s a female flamenco dancer. But for Google, it was, until recently, a John Travolta lookalike dancing disco style. And now it’s a weird, fat, blobby thingy. So if you’re planning to send a WhatsApp to someone, saying “You look gorgeous, like a dancer” (emoji), first make very sure she or he isn’t reading it on an Android phone ;-D
I love emojis. They make it possible to reply to messages without having to find your glasses first.