The evolving, unexpected power of the emoji | NOVA

The proposal for a mammoth emoji—coming to an iPhone near you next month—doesn’t just give a brief natural history of the extinct pachyderm. It also includes a chart comparing the incidence of the word “mammoth” in books to “elephant” and “tyrannosaurus” and imagines congratulatory messages that use a mammoth emoji to say an accomplishment is “huge.” 

The proposal for an onion emoji (added in 2019) begins with the classic “ogres are like onions” monologue from the movie Shrek, suggesting the emoji could be used to describe a complex situation or person. The bagel proposal offers a long cultural history of the breakfast food, predicts spikes in use on Saturdays and Sundays, and suggests it could catch on as a shorthand for carb-loading athletes.

Though it may seem they’ve always been there, emoji started as a grassroots solution to what was in the 1980s and 1990s a relatively new problem: misunderstandings

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