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17 July is World Emoji Day, a day that practically everyone who’s ever sent a winky-face should know. It’s a day that the internet earmarks to celebrate the now indispensable custom of sending smiley faces, I love you hearts and two hands up in celebration to people you love and, people you don’t love as much.
But emoji are more than just smiley faces and zap signs. Here are five pretty awesome facts about these little digital icons that you may not have known.
Emoji were invented in the East
They originated in Japan through the country’s cellular networks around 1998. The creator, Shigetaka Kurita, initially envisioned these simple characters to convey emotions that were fairly difficult to explain using words. He used manga as inspiration, with a dash of street signs for good measure.
Fun fact: in Japan at least, the plural of emoji is emoji!
South Africans love to celebrate, apparently
South Africa’s favourite text-alternative sticker is the “raise both hands in celebration” emoji. Pretty interesting.
Elsewhere in the world, Germany and Australia prefer using the hand displaying a thumbs up, both the US and Canada love the face of disgust or anguish, and most of South America seems to love musical notes.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) July 17, 2016
An emoji was Oxford’s Word of the Year for 2015
“That’s right – for the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is […] the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji, though you may know it by other names,” Oxford explained on its blog.
Its contenders were the likes of “ad blocker”, “on fleek” and “brexit”, so it’s no wonder that a non-word actually won.
And if you’re wondering what it looks like, it’s the plushie to the left in the image above.
You can track them as they’re used on Twitter in real time
Emojitracker looks at the way Twitter users blurt out emoji in real time, and as you can imagine, it leaves the viewer quite speechless. And dizzy. We also have no idea why anyone would want to do this, but it sure is interesting to look at.
Some celebrities have bespoke examples in their honour
Or, well, to showcase themselves.
Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Rick Ross and even Drake’s dad have mini digital faces that look nothing like them. You can spend anything up to US$3 (R50) to grab a set, but Kim’s is the only one that features a bonus Kanye.
Feature image: Frank Behrens via Flickr