We all use them in our communications, as a complement to or sometimes as a substitute for the written word. Emoticons are an important part of the graphic revolution in instant messaging services and social networks. About 5,000 million emojis (the most precise word to call these icons), almost one for every inhabitant of the planet, are sent every day through Facebook Messenger and one in five tweets incorporates one is their messages. It is a universal language, common to the various platforms, which allow short, effective and quick responses, avoid typing messages, save us time and, above all, nurture digital conversations. Its effects are various. They generate laughter, create misunderstandings, encourage or defuse fights. They are used for everything because there is an emoticon for almost everything. But do we know exactly what some of the most widely used mean and how to use them in certain contexts?
Emoticons have emerged, above all, to help compensate for the lack of gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice in conversations on digital platforms. And although there is consensus (for example, that a “smiley face” indicates “happiness”) between organizations that are dedicated to processing and analysis, emojis do not respond to an established universal norm, but are usually accessory elements that add extravagance. and versatility to the messages. The first meaning to an emoji is given by The Unide Consortium, the non-profit organization that is dedicated to the analysis, publication and development of these icons. But that first denomination (happy face, sad face) only responds to the need to name them initially in some way, because according to the organization insisting on questions from EL PAÍS, “they are not necessarily universal”. “The images represented by emoji can have or develop very different connotations and uses depending on the language and culture of the user,” they add.
Thus, depending on the conversations, a peach is not only a fruit and a pig is not only an animal. The meanings, as happens with the words of a language, change and evolve as they are used by users of different generations and that is why it is not surprising that a quarter of sent emojis are often misinterpreted by their recipient, according to a University of Rochester Macro Study. To clarify the panorama, we offer in the following graphic a guide with some of the most popular ones, made from the consultation of four of the most complete encyclopedias of emoticons on the web: The Unicode Standard, Emojiterra, Meaning Emojis Y Emojipedia.
A thorough approval process
Each smiley corresponds to a code called unicode which makes it look similar, not the same, on all devices and applications. For example, him unicode the “smiley face” would be “U + 1F601.” “The unicode it is the foundation of all modern software. This is how all mobile phones, desktop computers, and other computers represent all text in all languages. You are using unicode every time you type a key on your phone or desktop computer, and every time you look at a web page or text in an application ”, they explain from the Consortium, which is also in charge of coordinating the entire development of the standard unicode. The Consortium approves the new emojis and their corresponding unicodes.
The process for submitting proposals for new icons is always open to individuals and non-profit organizations. Just enter to this hyperlink and follow the instructions. The Consortium analyzes each proposal taking into account three basic aspects. First, determine if the image will work in the small size that emojis are commonly used at. Second, it establishes if the emoji really contributes a new reaction or representation of some expression, act, feeling or material that is not currently contemplated in the emoji database. And third, investigate whether there is substantial evidence that a large number of people will use this new emoji. Finally, the emoji is registered in a database. According to the Consortium, in 2020 there were a total of 3,019 emojis, divided into 10 categories. Those that have the most are: people and the human body (1,606), flags (268), objects (233) and symbols (217).
Can already approved emojis be removed? It is very difficult. Once an emoji code point has been added to the Unicode standard, it cannot be removed based on the stability policy unicode. “There have been limited cases in which the emoji status of a character or sequence has changed over time, and some providers may choose to modify or update them,” they explain from the Consortium. Also, since most emojis have multiple uses and meanings, this organization generally does not get involved in the discussion about removing an emoji.