LONDON • Sometimes words are not enough to express ourselves. Recognising this, Oxford Dictionaries has for the first time ever dubbed a pictograph, officially called the "face with tears of joy" emoji, as the "Word of the Year".
The emoji beat out a range of strong contenders, including "ad blocker", "Brexit", "Dark Web", "lumbersexual", and "refugee", to clinch the title as the 'word' that best reflected the ethos, mood and preoccupations of 2015, according to Oxford Dictionary.
The emoji was selected with the help of technology firm SwiftKey, which found it was the most used around the world in the last year.
"You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st-century communication," said Mr Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, reported The Telegraph. "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," he said.
The choice of an emoji for "word of the year" is controversial, with Oxford Dictionaries soon trending on Twitter. "This is the end of civilisation as we know it," one user joked. Emojis (the plural can be either emoji or emojis) have been around since the late 1990s. However, their use - and the use of the word emoji - increased dramatically in 2015.
SwiftKey found that the "face with tears of joy" emoji accounted for 20 per cent of emojis used in the United Kingdom in 2015 and 17 per cent in the United States. The word "emoji" has seen a similar surge. Although part of English since 1997, its usage more than tripled in 2015 over the previous year, according to data from the Oxford Dictionaries Corpus.