Emoji is booming. Emojis are such a part of our existence that we’ve got a keyboard to type them quicker. Not just teens, students even candidates running for President of the US use them – here is the example where Hillary Clinton asks students how they feel about their loan debt- ; we get collectively ecstatic every time a new set is released.


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How does your student loan debt make you feel?

Tell us in 3 emojis or less.



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Emoji is booming. Emojis are such a part of our existence that we’ve got a keyboard to type them quicker. We get collectively ecstatic every time a new set is released.Even so, it’s a little strange when you get an institution like the Oxford English Dictionary choosing an emoji as its ‘word of the year’.

‘For starters, it’s not actually a word. It’s a picture. But, hey, who’s judging? Language evolves, right? The emoji in question is the crying-laughing emoji. The one with two fat tears coming out of its eyes as it howls of laughter.

It makes sense that this emoji was chosen above all others. It’s so versatile

LOL2and basic. It’s the picture equivalent of LOL. No one really says that anymore but we still socially need that replacement. It’s an acknowledgement of what the other person has said. Emoji is booming. It’s the fastest growing and universal language in the world and it is supposedly universally understood. At least that’s what we think. Research shows that these six facial expressions of the emotions anger, disgust, fear, sadness, happiness and surprise all are universal phenomena and all used over our entire globe. Nevertheless upon sending a text message to your colleague in a country far away from you, did it ever cross your mind what their reading of your message is?

Just imagine your thanking your Brazilian colleague for yesterday’s delicious diner and you’re using this in emoji:

LOL3to express the excellent quality of the food served. By sending this text message your’re intention is to express appreciation. Not just for the diner but for the highly valued work relationship you both have as well. However your couldn’t have been more off…how this will be received is absolutely the opposite: deeply insulting might even destroy your work relationship!

This is just a little example of how a tiny miniscule drawing will fade away your so very carefully crafted relationship……

In other words it isn’t always what it seems, even not in picture equivalents, and so here’s where we go wrong interculturally. We find another controversial example in the country of emoji origin, Japan.



In Japanese, the word for poop (unko) starts, coincidentally, with the same “oon” sound as the word for “luck.” Moreover, there has always existed a long tradition of poo-centric worship in the country. Before the digital age, it was still fairly common in Japan to look to deities known as banjo-gami, or privy gods, by keeping figures on top of or underneath the loo. Gold poop charms are popular good luck tokens in Japan, as are sweets that resemble that Smiling Pile of Poop emoji. Kawaii. 


What do emojis say about YOU?

At the same time interesting enough the Canadians have the highest score for the poop emoji, according to SwiftKey, the company analyzed more than 1bn pieces of data to create the definitive assessment of how you use emoji – and what it says about you:

  • The French use four times as many heart emoji than other languages, and it’s the only language for which a ‘smiley’ is not #1;
  • Arabic speakers use flowers and plants emoji 4X more than average;
  • Russian speakers are the biggest romantics, using three times as much romance-themed emoji than the average;
  • Australia is the land of vices and indulgence according to the emoji data, using double the average amount of alcohol-themed emoji, 65% more drug emoji than average and leading for both junk food and holiday emoji;
  • Malaysia ranked first in its use of the beloved poop emoji, as well as the set of sleep emojis. Even more impressive is that Malaysia has the most diverse emoji vocabulary in the world.

Judging by their use of emoji, Americans are the most LGBT, using these emojis more than others; Americans also lead for a random assortment of emoji & categories, including skulls, birthday cake, fire, tech, meat and female-oriented emoji;The sad-face emoji is most popular in New Jersey while the happy-face is used most in South Dakota.

  • Spanish-speakers in the U.S. were more likely to use the crying emoji than other groups, with tear-streaked faces representing 4 percent of all emoji use.



While there are different ways to interpret emoji meanings, there were a few… interesting trends related to “particular” fruits, vegetables and an assortment of other emoji. We also discovered that – reader, I’m sorry – Canadians are twice as raunchy as all other languages according to their emoji usage. Even though the United States uses the eggplant emoji more than any other nation -And it’s not because they’re making eggplant Parmesan for dinner. The aubergine, or eggplant, emoji definitely has nothing to do with vegetables. Instead – and reader, I’m sorry again – it is has become the universal phallic symbol. It’s a penis. If a man sends a message on Tinder consisting of just the aubergine emoji and a question mark, shut it down!


Do the symbols effectively have their own ‘cultural dialects’?

While emotions themselves are universal phenomena, they are always influenced by culture, so is our universal new emoji language. During one hour translation speakers of different languages wanted to find out whether interpret emoji similarly, or whether the symbols effectively have their own ‘cultural dialects’.

It came up with 13 sentences and expressions in emoji, for which it had pre-conceived definitions.

The team then asked a handful of translators across 11 different languages – French, French Canadian, Spanish, Spanish (Latin America), German, Hindi, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese (Cantonese), and Arabic – to explain what each symbol means.

Now dear reader I’d like to ask you to play this emoji translation game with me just for the fun during the Holiday Season and to gain some intercultural insights. So please try to translate the emojis for yourself first before checking on the answers.

So now dear reader my question to you is how would you interpret this set of emoji symbols?




And here is how most translators interpreted the two emoji showing a sick face and a flexed arm to be related to sickness and getting better.

But French-Canadians thought of this as ‘bicep implants’ and Arabic translators believed it to represent ‘my armpits are smelly’ – making it a bad choice to send when cancelling a date, for example.

How did you like the first for a warming up, let’s go to the second then. And again, please see for yourself first, so no cheating….









This emoji message showing a pointing finger followed by a gust of air is intended to mean ‘he farted’.

French translators found a more poetic meaning of ‘blowing hot air in your direction,’ while Hindi translators interpreted it as ‘look there he goes’ and Greek linguists said ‘go with the flow’.

Arabic translators thought it meant ‘you stink!’

Since you’re all nicely warmed up and we can go to the next level, more challenging and definitely more fun. Let’s play by the same rule, you first try to guess for yourself what is expressed here by using symbols.




This image of the moon together with a sleeping face and a hand gesture showing satisfaction was intended to mean ‘good night, sleep well,’ but instead it was said to mean ‘when the moon is out it’s time to catch some zzz’s’ by Spanish translators, while German experts said it means ‘to be out all night is great, but sleeping is better’.


And what is you guess on this emoji – sentence:


A string of five emoji meaning ‘New York, the city that never sleeps’ garnered a curious response from Hindi translators.

The experts believed it meant ‘it’s better to hit the bed instead of pouring over world’s mysteries’, while Arabic linguists asked ‘free this evening for a sleepover?’ in response.


You’re almost there:







A more complex string of 10 emoji denoting a ‘girl’s night out’ unsurprisingly confused those surveyed.

French translators said: ‘Bring any girl to a dance and she turns into a party animal’.

While the symbols were interpreted by Spanish linguists as ‘a friendly outing involving alcohol turns into a musical event’.

More literal German translators thought the row of symbols meant: ‘First we met, had some food and wine, some more cocktails, some music and more music and then we danced the bunny dance’.

All the translators understood a collection of symbols describing the events of a camping trip, but a Hindi translator took it to a deeper level, saying: ‘I wish I could also leave my everyday routine aside and go for a camping and fishing trip to a lonely place.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3196583/Can-decipher-emoji-messages-Translators-11-regions-misunderstand-universal-symbols-hilarious-results.html#ixzz3tqMH5FID



Congrats! You made it! As a bonus for all your efforts as for those who can’t get enough of these emojis please open the following link below and feel free to use the emojipedia

Adam Kay unveils his attempt to write his first comedy set in emojis

So in your opinion should the emoji in question the crying-laughing emoji

LOL12. The one with two fat tears coming out of its eyes as it howls. Be the word of 2015? And if not I’m curious to know which word would be?

Looking forward to your opinion, lots of thanks for reading my blog.

Warmly, Henriëtte