Do you speak Emoji – see if you can translate these Emoji statements into English
To celebrate World Emoji Day we’ve set you a short puzzle on signs. Signs are everywhere and the study of signs (semiotics) is one of the most fascinating areas of linguistics.
Signs and symbols have been with us since early humans made their first attempts at communication and storytelling. Over millennia, as symbols developed and became more complex, the study of signs, semiotics, was created. We all interact with dozens of signs every day – from the red and blue markers on a tap signifying hot and cold water to an ambulance turning on its siren to let drivers know it’s coming past.
Plato and Aristotle discussed the significance of signs, and heavyweights like Saussure and Peirce are considered founders of semiotics. Umberto Eco chewed over the concept of semiotics in “The Name of the Rose” and Dan Brown spat it out in “The Da Vinci Code”.
Yes, this A-list of linguists and literati have long mulled over the relationships between human communication and meaning, trying to decide whether signs might be the key to finding a universal human language, the unlocking of the Tower of Babel and the ability to achieve an everlasting peace through clear communication.
And then came emojis.
Finally, everything became clear. To paraphrase Nietzsche; semiotics is dead. Semiotics remains dead. And we have killed it. How shall we comfort ourselves? Well, mostly happy faces and fart symbols. In fact, it seems semiotics is very much alive thanks to these.
A 2015 survey by Swiftkey (see more at https://blog.swiftkey.com/americans-love-skulls-brazilians-love-cats-swiftkey-emoji-meanings-report/) revealed some fascinating cultural differences around how we use emojis:
– French people use the heart symbol four times more than anyone else.
– Russian speakers use romance-themed emojis three times the average.
– Arabic speakers use more sun and heat-related emojis than any other language.
– 1.7% of emoji sent fell under the category “monkeys”. We don’t know why either.
What would Peirce and Saussure make of it? We have absolutely no idea, but to celebrate this brilliant advance in semiotics we’ve put together the quiz above. See if you can translate the three phrases above into English. Post your answers in the comments and if no-one gets it right we’ll put you out of your misery next week!