Slingsby Smiles - it's been emoji-tional

tears of joy laughing emoji

We're fast approaching the end of the month - and we're sure that  our members are dreading coming the end of their delicious November gin, Slingsby!

To help distract you from the pain, here's a joy-filled extract from November's GINNED! magazine - and don't forget, it's nearly time for December's box to arrive! :)

When the Oxford English Dictionary announced its 'word of the year' recently, there was confusion in some quarters - because it wasn't in fact a word at all, but an emoji - 'tears of joy' to be precise.

Whatever you think of the OED's choice, we bet there are a more than a few 'tears of joy' emojis floating about in Harrogate, home of Slingsby Gin, which was voted the UK's happiest place for three years running.

Since their inception in Japan in the late 1990s and with the rise of smart phones, emojis are the fastest growing means of communication with an estimated 6 billion now used daily in 14 billion text messages. 

But will their growth crowd out words? Can we speak only with emoji? In one extreme experience, a New York City couple, Adam Goldmark and Liza Stark gave it a shot.  


Towards the start of 2014, Goldmark and Stark underwent a “textperiment” to see what would happen when they communicated exclusive by emoji for a month.

Initial communication was pretty basic - they had to figure out how to say “I” and “you” so each chose an emoji to represent themselves - but quickly evolved as certain emojis came to represent concepts such as the image of a bus that became the default for “transportation” and a cartoon winking bunny that expressed “love”. As the days went by, communication became increasingly complex as more images replaced words (see box above). 

With Adam and Liza managing their relationship with emojis and the rapid growth of the smileys, is a new type of language evolving? Not really. Humans have communicated through images since written language began thousands of years ago and languages such as Ancient Egyptian and Chinese got their start with ideograms, defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a character symbolizing the idea of a thing without indicating the sounds used to say it.”


In some instances, ideograms are more effective than words from a split-second synapse-connection perspective. For example, if you look at an image of a pig your brain recognises it immediately as a pig. But when you look at the word “pig” your brain first understands the letters, the sequence of the letters, the meaning of the word and ultimately evokes the image of a pig.  

In most instances, however, images fail to capture context, which is the main issue the NYC couple encountered. In one difficult exchange, Stark needed to cancel the drinks the two had arranged because of a death in the family of a good friend. Goldmark thought Stark was simply stiffing him to have drinks with her girls and was completely confused by the skull emoji Stark had used to represent death.


On the other hand, the two found that emojis are particularly good for expressing positive emotions and their interactions on their smart phones became more flirtatious. Stark actually preferred when her man used one of several emojis to say “I love you” instead of writing the same thing in words saying that it felt “fuller” and that he became better at flirting. Goldman had a similar assessment of his new-found emoji expertise concluding, “The winking bunny goes a long way.”