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The Semiotics of Emoji

Shortlisted for the BAAL Book Prize 2017 Emoji have gone from being virtually unknown to being a central topic in internet communication. What is behind the rise and rise of these winky faces, clinking glasses and smiling poos? Given the sheer variety of verbal communication on the internet and English's still-controversial role as lingua mundi for the web, these icons have emerged as a compensatory universal language. The Semiotics of Emoji looks at what is officially the world's fastest-growing form of communication. Emoji, the colourful symbols and glyphs that represent everything from frowning disapproval to red-faced shame, are fast becoming embedded into digital communication. Controlled by a centralized body and regulated across the web, emoji seems to be a language: but is it? The rapid adoption of emoji in such a short span of time makes it a rich study in exploring the functions of language. Professor Marcel Danesi, an internationally-known expert in semiotics, branding and communication, answers the pertinent questions. Are emoji making us dumber? Can they ultimately replace language? Will people grow up emoji literate as well as digitally native? Can there be such a thing as a Universal Visual Language? Read this book for the answers.
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Table of Contents

Preface 1. Emoji and Writing Systems 2. Emoji Uses 3. Emoji Competence 4. Emoji Semantics 5. Emoji Grammar 6. Emoji Pragmatics 7. Emoji Variation 8. Emoji Spread 9. Universal Languages 10. A Communication Revolution? References Index

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Emojis have gone from being niche internet symbols to ubiquitous communicative tools. Marcel Danesi explores what they can teach us about language and the future of communication.

About the Author

Marcel Danesi is a Professor at the University of Toronto, Canada. He is known for his work in semiotics and youth culture. He has published on the meanings of popular culture and how they inform social evolution. He has also written textbooks introducing linguistics and semiotics, and published a series of books on advertising as a sign system.


The main contributions of Danesi's work are, first, his report on the survey of a hundred eighteen to twenty-two-year-old university students - fifty males and fifty females - along with examples of their text messages. * Times Literary Supplement * Danesi maintains a healthy level of scepticism about the applications and future of the emoji, especially when it comes to "translations" of classics such as Moby-Dick and Alice in Wonderland. * The Sydney Herald * The Semiotics of Emoji is an important reminder of the limitations of language and sound, and how much visual symbols can aid human interaction and add to the richness of communication. * Inspector Insight * Danesi's goal was to provide readers with a look at emoji that was accessible to everyone ... He reached that goal by providing a great balance of information coming from his vast experience in various fields. * The Linguist List *

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