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The Word Of The Year — Isn’t One

Each year, Oxford Dictionaries chooses a “word of the year.” The word is carefully selected by Oxford staff, who care (and know) a lot about words.

They choose a word that they feel best reflects the mood of the year, as well as what is on the minds of people.

This year, the word of the year isn’t a word at all. It’s a picture. Or, more correctly a pictograph. It’s also known as an emoji.

emoji tears 2015

It’s a smiley face with tears, and it’s officially called the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji.

Here’s what Oxford says about emojis:

“Emojis (the plural can be either emoji or emojis) have been around since the late 1990s, but 2015 saw their use, and the use of the word emoji, increase hugely.”

Emojis are used in electronic communication, typically from a phone, computer or electronic tablet. Emojis are more modern cousins of the “emoticon,” such as : ) which is seen as a smiley face when viewed sideways.

The “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji was chosen as the “word of the year” because it was the most-used emoji around the world—it’s the one chosen about 20 per cent of the time when emojis are used.

Here is Oxford’s definition of emoji:

An emoji is ‘a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication’; the term emoji is a loanword from Japanese, and comes from e ‘picture’ + moji ‘letter, character’.

Here are some other words that weren’t chosen as “word of the year” but were considered:

Sharing economy; they (used to refer to a person of unspecified gender); on fleek; ad blocker; refugee; Brexit (a term for the potential departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union); Dark Web (part of the Internet that is only accessible by special software); lumbersexual (a young urban man who cultivates an appearance and style of dress suggestive of a rugged outdoor lifestyle.

Related link
Here is Oxford’s blog post on the word of their year for 2015.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Why do you think emojis have caught on as a form of communication? Do you use emojis when you are writing emails or sending text messages?

Reading Prompt: Demonstrating Understanding
Why are emojis useful? On the other hand, what are the limitations of communicating with emojis?

Create a T-chart comparing the advantages and disadvantages of using emojis when communicating.

Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by identifying important ideas and some supporting details (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by summarizing important ideas and citing supporting details (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Demonstrate understanding of increas- ingly complex texts by summarizing important ideas and citing a variety of details that support the main idea (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Language Feature: “Loanwords”

The English language is made up from words borrowed from many other languages, namely, Latin, Greek, and French. The word emoji is a borrowed word from Japan.

Can you guess which of the origins mentioned above belong to each set of English words below?

  1. army, money, judge, treaty, beef: _______________________
  2. agenda, flux, naive, renegade, taunt: _____________________
  3. dinosaur, geography, zone, graphic, doctor: ________________