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In just two decades, emoji has become ‘the fastest growing language in history’. But are there more complex implications to their popularity? With more than 92% of internet users now using emojis, and billions used every day, do the simple digital pictograms have wider implications for society, relationships and even the way we're hardwired?
The use of emojis has fundamentally changed the way individuals express themselves and communicate.
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Emojis have contributed to lower levels of literacy.

2018 Google study showed that more than 33% of UK adults held them responsible for perceived degradation of the English language.

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Context

The rapid growth in emoji use has meant users frequently choose images over text to express themselves. People are increasingly communicating in much simpler terms, choosing 'cartoon language' over written language. Several academic studies suggest that this evolution is to blame for the deterioration of wider literacy standards amongst emoji users. A 2018 YouTube study revealed that more than a third of British adults agree with this perspective, and that almost 75% now depend upon emojis and predictive text to craft digital messages.

The Argument

The 'digital revolution' has introduced alternative modes of communication, including the emoji, which enable users to interact without written language. This has impacted literacy fluency across the board as people increasingly use images to express themselves. In turn, this is reducing knowledge of grammar, punctuation and linguistic accuracy amongst users, and contributing to a wider crisis in literacy standards.

Counter arguments

Language is fluid, and evolves over time. As emojis have become ingrained in communication, so have many other byproducts of the digital revolution, such as 'text speak' and predictive text. Each of these has contributed to reducing standards of literacy. However, if the primary goal of language is to communicate, many studies show that emojis actually bring clarity to otherwise ambiguous messages. For example, a 2017 study by psychologist Linda Kaye found that participants were more likely to understand the nuance of ambiguous messaging when emojis were included. Kaye concludes, 'these symbols are not purely emotional, but they add layers of complexity and clarity to communication.'

Premises

[P1] Populations are increasingly dependent on emojis to communicate [P2] Populations increasingly use emojis instead of written language [P3] Literacy standards are reducing in developed countries [P4] Literacy standards depend upon populations engaging in written forms of communication

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] There is no evidence that without emojis, literacy standards would not be reducing

References

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Proponents

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This page was last edited on Sunday, 1 Dec 2019 at 17:26 UTC