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Emojis: Communication, Symbolism, Culture

A guide to scholarly and popular resources on the use of emojis

Test Your Fluency!


What are Emojis?

Emoji: "A small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communications."

Source: Oxford English Dictionary

Emoticon or Emoji?

Emoticon: "An emoticon is a computer keyboard-generated sign that represents facial expressions. Used in computer-mediated communication, emoticons provide an emotional quality to e-mails, texts, instant messaging, and other Internet communication."

Source: Faces around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia of the Human Face. Margo DeMello. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2012. p80-83. Gale Virtual Reference Library 

Images as Communication

Pictograph: "A method of expression and communication that uses symbols and drawings to convey ideas. The pictograph refers to the symbol(s) used to express these ideas. Ancient hieroglyphs used pictures as a method of communication and are a well-known example of pictographs."

Sullivan, L. E. (2009). Pictograph (sociology). In The SAGE glossary of the social and behavioral sciences (pp. 381-381). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. 


Round-topped limestone stela divided into four registers

British Museum, Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-SA 4.0


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