Emojis occupy a peculiar place in the public lexicon. In a texting world, they say the unsayable. Somehow, when a friend texts to ask for a raincheck, the blow is softened when she appends the message with a (crying face) or a (disappointed face). Emojis lend an air of fun to tweets or Facebook posts that would otherwise come across as staunchly promotional, dry, or factual. Millennials and the younger set love them for the ironic twist they put on messages.
Yet, at this very moment, if I wanted to use emojis to express to a friend “Hey, call me, an owl just stole my scooter – face palm!” I wouldn’t be able to (not that that scenario comes up too often…). But with the list of proposed emojis released this month, I could. The “call me” hand gesture, as well as the owl, the scooter, and the “face-palm” expression are all among brand new emojis that are up for consideration.
In a report released this month, the Unicode emoji subcommittee (a name worthy of its own emoji, but alas) announced 38 new emojis they are considering for 2016. Many of these are responses to public request — avocado and bacon, I’m looking at you — and others simply seek to fill in the gaps missing in the current graphic language. Apparently we’ve gone this long without the ability to express handshakes — so many deals made without flourish! Some seem more experimental — a rather humble-looking croissant (to appease the French?), a cucumber (see Notes: “Also represents pickle”).
Click here to see the full list — with pictures. Or scroll down to see the full list.
Where Do Emoji Come From?
How does an emoji get born? They first originated in emails and webpages in Japan. The word emoji means, quite literally, “pictograph” (picture [e] + character [moji]). They didn’t reach the U.S. until 2011, when Apple first included an emoji keyboard in its iOS. Today they come to us via Unicode, an encoding standard that determines how text looks on digital devices.
But it’s actually designers, such as Apple’s William Van Lacker, who bring us our graphic little friends to life. Van Lacker is credited with his team for creating many of the emojis on Apple’s iOS that have become familiar to us today.
After designers submit ideas for new emoji to Unicode, the committee meets to “recommend” new characters to the language, sort of like how the Oxford Dictionary board meets every year to decide which neologisms will be added to our official vocabulary (and thereby capable of earning points in Scrabble).