Any English major can tell you respect for the written word is on the decline. He'll probably tell you while smoking and wearing a slouchy beanie, but, he'll tell you. And to be honest, that hypothetical English major might have a point, because Oxford English Dictionaries just named the "Face with Tears of Joy’" emoji as the "Word of the Year." Cue sad face emoji.
That's right, the word of the year is not a word, but instead a yellow face icon.
According to Oxford's press release, the word of the year must reflect the "ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year," which apparently an emoji does better than any assemblage of letters. The president of Oxford English Dictionaries had this to say on the decision: “You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st Century communication. 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." Surely the next step is a love sonnet written in all emoji. But then again, some 13-year-old has already done this.
In order to determine which particular emoji deserved this high honor, Oxford took into account 1.5 billion pieces of emoji data provided by SwiftKey. This data looked at how English speakers used emoji this year, and the "Face with Tears of Joy’" was the most popular emoji among English speakers, thereby becoming word of the year.
Don't cry English majors. After all, Dante would be just as good written in emoji. OK maybe not just as good, but it would be funny as hell (sorry).
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Kara King is a News Writer at Thrillist and smiley face. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her at @karatillie.