The Oxford Dictionaries has chosen an emoji—otherwise known as a picture—as its “Word” of the Year for 2015, which gives us very little faith in the abilities of Oxford Dictionary employees. Other contenders included “ad blocker,” “Brexit,” “lumbersexual,” “on fleek,” “Dark Web,” “refugee,” “sharing economy,” and “they” as a singular pronoun.
According to Casper Grathwohl, President of Oxford Dictionaries, the decision to induct the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji indicates the downfall of modern society the rapidly changing landscape of human relations. “You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st Century communication,” Grathwohl says. “It’s not surprising that a pictographic script like emoji has stepped in to fill those gaps—it’s flexible, immediate, and infuses tone beautifully. As a result emoji are becoming an increasingly rich form of communication, one that transcends linguistic borders. When Andy Murray tweeted out his wedding itinerary entirely in emoji, for example, he shared a subtle mix of his feelings about the day directly with fans around the world. It was highly effective in expressing his emotions.”
A previous version of this article classified the Oxford Dictionaries as the Oxford English Dictionary. The two are separate entities.