Emoji as a Substitute for Gesture.

Lauren Gawne of La Trobe University writes for The Conversation about some research she’s been doing:

Over the last three decades, psychologists, linguists, and anthropologists, along with researchers from other traditions, have come together to understand how people gesture, and the relationship between gesture and speech.

The field of gesture studies has demonstrated that there are several different categories of gesture, and each of them has a different relationship to the words that we say them with. In a paper I co-authored with my colleague Gretchen McCulloch, we demonstrate that the same is true of emoji. The way we use emoji in our digital messages is similar to the way we use gestures when we talk.

She goes on to write about what gestures and emoji have in common, illustrative and metaphoric emoji, “beat” gestures, and the limitations of emoji:

Gestures and speech are closely synchronised in a way emoji and text can’t be. Also, the scope of possibilities with gesture are limited only to what the hands and body can do, while emoji use is limited to the (currently) 2,823 symbols encoded by Unicode.

Thanks, Trevor!

For those who don’t know, emoji has nothing to do with emotion; AHD:

Japanese: e, picture (from Old Japanese we, from Early Middle Chinese γwəjh) + moji, writing (from Old Japanese monji, moji, from Early Middle Chinese mun dzɨh (also the source of Mandarin wénzì) mun, mark, writing (from Old Chinese , soot + –n, n. suffix, since Chinese ink is traditionally made from soot) + dzɨh, symbol, character; see KANJI).

And totally unrelated but worth noting: Erik McDonald of XIX век has made his translation of “It Didn’t Come Off” (Не сошлись), an 1867 novella by Sof’ia Engel’gardt (see this LH post), available for free download as a dual-language e-book — links in .epub, .mobi/Kindle, and .pdf format here.

Comments

  1. melissa boiko says:

    Wouldn’t “emoji” (1997 in English) be influenced by “emoticon” (1988)? I wonder how many speakers reanalyse it as emo- from emotion. (Though “emoji” in Japanese is much older (≤1928; all dates from OED; Google books has 1986 hits for “emoticon”).

    I find it neat that “moji” is equivalent to “-ji”, which makes an analysis emo-ji, parallel to emot-icon, cross-linguistically plausible, though not etymological.

    Incidentally the OED also theorizes that “e-moji” may have been based on “picto-graph”.

  2. Wouldn’t “emoji” (1997 in English) be influenced by “emoticon” (1988)?

    There’s a discussion of the pair at the Log.

    I wonder how many speakers reanalyse it as emo- from emotion.

    Quite a few, I’m sure, which is why I provided the etymology.

    I find it neat that “moji” is equivalent to “-ji”, which makes an analysis emo-ji, parallel to emot-icon, cross-linguistically plausible, though not etymological.

    Nice!

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