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Oxford's Word of the Year Doesn't Even Have Letters; Emoji Takes the Honor

Oxford's Word of the Year Doesn't Even Have Letters; Emoji Takes the Honor

By    |   Tuesday, 17 November 2015 12:57 PM

The Oxford Word of the Year isn't a word at all. 

For the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015 is an emoji, officially called "Face with Tears of Joy," in a move that illustrates the dramatic increase in the use of the pictographs in everyday language, Oxford announced Monday.

Emojis, which have been around since the 1990s, have steadily increased in popularity with the rise of mobile media, according to Oxford.

"This year Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and 'Face with Tears of Joy' was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015," the wordsmiths reported.

"SwiftKey identified that 'Face with Tears of Joy' made up 20 percent of all the emojis used in the (United Kingdom) in 2015, and 17 percent of those in the U.S.: a sharp rise from 4 percent and 9 percent respectively in 2014," the Oxford statement continued.

The use of the word "emoji" itself also tripled in 2015, Oxford said, citing data from the Oxford Dictionaries Corpus.

"You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st century communication," Oxford Dictionaries President Casper Grathwohl said in a statement, according to CNN Money. "It's not surprising that a pictographic script like emoji has stepped in to fill those gaps."

Hannah Jane Parkinson, of The Guardian, said she has mixed emotions about the Oxford Dictionaries decision with the emoji.

"To be precise, it's the 'tears of joy' emoji. Which makes me very 'crying face emoji,' because the tears of joy emoji certainly doesn't deserve to be emoji — sorry, word — of the year," Parkinson wrote.

"I don't even object that much to the (Oxford University Press) trying something different in selecting its word of the year," she continued. "Sure, it's ridiculous that the word of the year isn't an actual word. However, emoji, as I have written about before, are now a part of our communicative fabric. We use them to convey myriad emotions and thoughts."

The "Face with Tears of Joy" emoji beat out some actual words for the Word of the Year title. Also making the shortlist were ad blocker, Brexit, Dark Web, on fleek, lumbersexual, refugee, sharing economy, and they.

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The Oxford Word of the Year isn't a word at all.
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Tuesday, 17 November 2015 12:57 PM
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