Tuesday, 17 July 2018 15:14

What is the emoji for the word 'emoji'? Does even Apple know? :-)

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On World Emoji Day, an earth shatteringly fundamental question over the nature of life, the universe and everything has emerged: what emoji is used for the word emoji?

The question of what is the meaning of life, the universe and everything famously has the answer of "42", according to Douglas Adams, the famous sci-fi writer who penned many seminal novels, including "The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy", whereupon that question and answer was written.

But what, pray tell, is the emoji for the word "emoji"? Is it just the standard smiley face, or should there be something utterly specific?

I posed this question to myself when receiving an email from a colleague, wishing me a happy World Emoji Day, and asked that colleague, who racked their brains without coming up with a satisfactory (or any) answer. 

After all, the emoji for "world" was included in the greetng, but there was no emoji for emoji!

Given that cool and clever emojis are now part of the emojiquation when considering the lexicon of the world's lingua franca, with more added every year, it seems odd there is no emoji for emoji.

Of course, with today being World Emoji Day, we are seeing celebrations. Apple is one example, celebrating the day, as you can see here, with a stack of new emojis – including a kangaroo!

Apple is set to add more than 70 new emoji characters later this year in iOS 12, based on "approved characters in Unicode 11.0, (that) include even more hair options to better represent people with red hair, gray hair and curly hair, a new emoji for bald people, and new smiley faces that bring more expression to Messages with a cold face, party face, pleading face and a face with hearts".

There will be "beautifully designed characters for the kangaroo, peacock, parrot and lobster, with the addition of new food emoji for mango, lettuce, cupcake, moon cake and other popular items".

Apple is also including "characters across sports, symbols and more, will launch later this year, including a new superhero emoji, a softball, nazar amulet and infinity symbol".

But there's still no emoji for emoji.

Apple has even cleverly used its own "Memoji" capability, coming to iOS 12 for iPhone X and the new iPhones due later in 2018, to recreate the faces of its executive Leadership Team, and while this isn't part of the official library of Emojis, it does show how quickly pictures have come to dominate modern messaging and communications.

Looks like the Chinese with their pictograms that turned into today's Chinese characters had the right idea all those thousands of years ago, and once again, the West is just playing catch up.

That said, we still don't have a real emoji for the word emoji – perhaps we will with a future Unicode update, but until then, the emoji for the word emoji just happens to be the word... emoji!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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