In a move that leaves us all a little [Confused Face emoji], Oxford’s much-celebrated annual Word of the Year award for 2015 goes to this:
Oxford’s choice of the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji marks the first time the institution has chosen a pictograph as its Word of the Year. Of course, if we get another year or two of picks that are in fact not words, there could be petitions for Oxford to change the name of the award to something more appropriate.
In a blog post defending its selection, Oxford Dictionaries explained that “[Face with Tears of Joy emoji] was chosen as the ‘word’ that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.” Attached research informs us that, although emojis have been around since the late 1990s, they experienced their greatest increase in usage ever in 2015; “Face with Tears of Joy” accounted for a whopping 17 percent of all emoji shared in the U.S. this year.
Among the actual words bested by the winning emoji: “sharing economy,” “Dark Web,” and “ad blocker.”
Considering the growing popularity and importance of emoji in everyday communications, you can’t call Oxford’s proclamation any kind of “jump the shark” moment for the language as a whole. As for the venerable Word of the Year award itself, however, that may be another story. [Smirking Face emoji].