Amid fears that emojis
are supplanting good old-fashioned words and expressions, the news this week that the growing band of emoji users now has 168 more symbols to choose from should be taken as an indicator of where we are headed: back to the future. Ancient humans used figures and symbols long before evolving a written alphabet anyway, so emojis obviously tap into some primordial human instinct when it comes to articulation of thoughts and emotions. It is, therefore, not surprising at all that teenagers are channelling their inner Stone Age
personas by preferring hearts, smiley or gloomy faces and other toon icons over tedious wordplay. As their grasp of syntax and spellings has declined precipitously anyway, emojis offer the younger generation the perfect grammarless solution for stress-free communication.
That emojis are not linked to any language
also makes them universally intelligible and, thus, more attractive in a borderless world though the odd eggplant or peach emoji may be prone to misinterpretation. But after edging out the written word, will emojis then be emboldened to ambush the spoken word too? After all, if and when our written communications resemble Egyptian hieroglyphics
— or Indus Valley pictographs
— speaking may also come to be regarded as a waste of vocal cord vibrations.