Published on January 16, 2020

AHMEDABAD: Is it possible now to type ‘Thank you’ without that tiny symbol of folded hands or proclaiming love without a string of yellow faces winking or blowing kisses or simply smiling while chatting with our near and dear ones?

The ubiquitous emojis have taken the form of an independent language for the youth of today, claims a paper titled ‘Mapping Emoji Usage Amongst Youth’ by Dr Reena Shah, assistant professor with Indus University and Dr Ruchi Tewari, associate professor, MICA, at MICA ICMC 2020 recently.

The study, which encompassed a focused group discussion (FDG) and subsequent survey, found that the emotive faces and pictorial representation of various objects are used extensively across the platforms for multiple purposes — ranging from conveying an emotion or mood to supplement, complement or substitute the central message in texts.

“There were several revelations of the exercise — for a start, elderly were found to be using emojis in equal proportions, if not more. The primary reason for it is believed to be keeping up with the native users,” said professor Tewari.

“What appears to be a casual pictorial addition to textual messages holds the power to be developed as a standalone language with its unique set of norms which could impact the usage of language-dependent communication,” states the paper.

It’s no more a light-hearted exchange of symbols, claim researchers. In one of the instances, it cost a youth a relationship as he apparently did not use any appropriate emojis with a ‘Happy Birthday’ message. The recipient claimed that the message was just a formality for the sender, they added.

“It is sometimes used as a replacement for language. It’s widely perceived that if a person is chatting just using emojis, he or she wishes to close a conversation. There are also etiquettes involved — if it’s a formal (social or professional) relationship, use of emojis is less and limited. But as the relationship gets matured, the usage gets extremely informal,” added Tewari. “Each individual has a unique pattern of using emojis including before, after or in between the text.”

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