As a millennial and linguist, Leith Account Exec Philippa Oliver confesses to caring method too much about emojis.

You are watching: What does the frog and coffee emoji mean


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The most used emoji top top Twitter is the laugh-cry face. Apparently we all discover things digital absurdly funny.Millennials love emojis. We’re killing language by instead of words through tiny icons, right? not so much. I’m no going to protect them here, yet rather talk around how we usage them and why brands need to exercise emoji caution.

Let’s begin with exactly how we don’t use them. There seems to be a misconception that emojis are offered in the middle of sentences, instead of words. An innovation giant Apple has actually fallen victim come this idea, implementing the ability to directly replace words in your texts using your emoji suggestions. That fun, but it completely misunderstands how world use emojis. Together this brilliant write-up puts it, that the beginning of the ‘nounification’ that emojis: reducing emojis to an obvious and extremely literal meaning meaning, based on what they look like, fairly than the fantastically an imaginative ways in i m sorry they’re used at the moment:


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Image credit: Wired UK

Actually, among the really interesting things about emojis is just how abstractly lock used, offered how they room a literal picture of one thing.

To explain, stop dive a little into linguistics…


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Saussure: grammars daddy

In linguistics, we often refer come words as signs: castle are used to represent something. This term was coined through Saussure, the father of contemporary linguistics. According to him, “the sign is arbitrary” — the is, the kind of the sign has no relationship to the meaning. For example, nothing about the indigenous ‘chair’ actually has anything to do with a item of furniture friend sit on. Yet this is no true for every words, and in language we execute have examples of what we call “iconic” signs — signs straight related to their meaning. In English, they’re really rare and also largely relegated to the kingdom of onomatopoeia and also words because that sounds. Bang, woof, quack, boing. In authorize languages, they’re much an ext common. Authorize language is just as expressive as any other type of language and also the gestural, iconic indicators are used like vocal words. Despite they room iconic, there is no a simple kind to definition mapping. Emojis are similar.

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For example, the infamous aubergine and also peach emojis. They room quite plainly representative that real people objects, but are hardly ever used to talk about those things — and let’s be real, once was the last time you required to Twitter come talk about that rad aubergine you witnessed in Tesco critical night? That’s no to say that you can’t use them in that means (and your mum probably does) but, if girlfriend did, it would be simple to tell from context whether you supposed aubergine or the latest Calvin Klein advert. They’re absolutely euphemistically iconic with the peach the same, similar thing a pair of specifically round buttocks. However, us don’t just use it to say “buttocks”, we likewise use it to say something an ext akin come “attractive and well endowed”.

EXAMPLES of EMOJI an interpretation EVOLUTION:

The peach and also aubergine: