Are emoji killing off the alphabet? Instagram maps use of the icons to see how they're replacing internet slang words
- Instagram used distributional hypothesis to determine the context of emoji
- The photo app has mapped this context to reveal what emoji mean
- Study found many emoji are replacing internet slang such as 'omg'
- And almost 40% of text comments on Instagram now contain emoji
There are more than 800 emoji, and millions of us use our favourite across apps and social networks every day.
But are the tiny images creating a globally-recognised language and killing off the alphabet as we know it?
Instagram recently studied the use of the symbols on its app to try to establish the context of many popular, and more obscure, emoji.
It discovered emoji often have a shared meaning regardless of where in the world you are, and in some cases, are replacing internet slang completely.
Instagram studied emoji use on its app to try to establish the context of popular, and more obscure, emoji. It created a scatter chart revealing similarities between emoji. Food emoji are clustered left, shoes (bottom right) are linked with handbags, while bathing suits are close to water and marine animals (top left)
According to Instagram, almost 40 per cent of text comments on the app now contain emoji.
Last week it updated its app so hashtags can be used with single emoji, multiple emoji or can be combined with text in
Apple added the emoji keyboard to iOS in 2011, followed by Android in 2013 and these have fuelled the meteoric rise in popularity of the images.
'We're often asked about the meaning of emoji,' explained Thomas Dimson, software engineer on the Instagram Data Team.
'Intuitively, substitutable words have similar meanings. For example, we might say that 'dog' and 'cat' are similar words because they can both be used in sentences like 'The pet store sells _ food.'
He continued that in natural language processing, this is known as distributional hypothesis and it can be applied to emoji by treating them as if they are normal words.
Mr Dimson and his team used a tool known as word2vec to read through text containing emoji and predict the context around a given word or emoji.
Data scientists used a tool known as word2vec to read through text containing emoji and predict the context around a given word or symbol. This analysis revealed a correlation in the rise of emoji and a decline of internet slang (pictured)
For example, 'omg' - slang for 'oh my god', has been replaced with the 'face screaming with fear' emoji (left). 'Lol' and 'lmao' - laugh my ass off - is being replaced by the 'face with tears of joy' emoji (right)
The research also revealed that the 'person raising both hands in celebration' emoji (left) is more commonly used in place of words around waiting and stopping. 'Women with bunny ears' (right) is typically used to represent sisters, and the 'dancing lady' is used for birthday-related posts
Its algorithm predicts the context until it correctly identifies it and then learns and adjusts for the next scan.
An attempt to categorise these contexts is also available on Emojipedia, which lists the common meaning of emoji.
INSTAGRAM BANS EGGPLANT EMOJI
When people try to search for the aubergine, or eggplant, emoji on the app no posts appear
When people try to search for the
Instagram told MailOnline it is not commenting on the eggplant anomaly.
But, given that the emoji could potentially be tagged onto images that contain nudity, it is likely the app is restricting its use under its community guidelines.
It also appears the hashtag itself isn't banned across the app, instead it just can't be searched for.
'More formally, we can place emoji and hashtags together with words into a common metric space where there are well-defined distances between elements,' continued Mr Dimon.
From this, the team created a scatter chart that mapped the context of emoji and hashtags using 50 million English Instagram comments and captions from 2015.
The representation of the words was chosen so that similar words have a small distance, and for each emoji, the team worked out the 'angle' between it and other words.
Words with a small angle are said to be similar and provide a natural, English-language translation for that emoji.
Food emoji are clustered on the left, shoes, in the bottom right, are closely associated with handbags while bathing suits are closer to the water and marine animals, top left.
Meanwhile, alcoholic drinks in the bottom left are clustered together with bowling.
From this, the researchers discovered that emoji are replacing internet slang.
For example, 'omg' - slang for 'oh my god' - has been replaced with the 'face screaming with fear' emoji.
While 'lol', and 'lmao' - laugh my ass off - is being replaced by the 'face with tears of joy' emoji.
The love heart has replaced kisses on comments, and the 'thumbs' up emoji is a catch-all for good luck, good job, fingers crossed, impressed and proud.
The research also revealed that the 'person raising both hands in celebration' emoji is more commonly used in place of words relating to waiting and stopping.
'Women with bunny ears' is typically used to represent sisters, and the 'dancing lady' is used for birthday-related posts.
In particular, the research shows a similar pattern in the rise of emoji and a decline of internet slang in a chart.
'The vocabulary of Instagram is shifting similarly across many different cohorts with a decline in internet slang corresponding to rise in the usage of emoji,' said the team.
The most popular emoji on Instagram is the 'face with tears of joy', followed by the face with love hearts for eyes and blowing a kiss emoji. Other popular emoji are the OK hand gesture, two hearts, clapping hands, another crying with laughter face, thumbs up, smiley face and kiss mark (pictured left to right)
This chart reveals which countries use the most emoji on Instagram. Finland tops the list with 63% of text containing an emoji. The UK is third on 48%, USA is in ninth place on 38% and Tanzana is bottom on 20%
'On Instagram, emoji are becoming a valid and near-universal method of expression in all languages.
'Emoji usage is shifting the people's vocabulary on Instagram and becoming an important means of expression: their use is anti-correlated with internet slang like 'lol' and 'xoxo.'
'By observing words and emoji together we were able to discern representations of both.
'These representations can help us better understand their semantics and find distinctive characteristics of similar symbols.'
The most popular emoji on the site is the 'face with tears of joy' face, followed by the face with love hearts for eyes and blowing a kiss emoji.
WHAT EMOJI REVEAL ABOUT YOUR COUNTRY
From sending countless 'poops' to adding hearts to sentimental messages, your choice of emoji says a lot about you.
And experts recently analysed more than one billion
Swiftkey recently analysed more than one billion sets of emoji data, covering 800 emoji across 60 categories. The most popular categories for each language are pictured
In the US, gadget users send 30
To plot the differences in use, London-based keyboard app firm SwiftKey analysed more than one billion sets of emoji data, covering 800 emoji across 60 categories.
The findings of the report came from an analysis of data over a four-month period between October 2014 and January
The languages studied include English, including US, UK and Australian, Spanish, Vietnamese, French, Malaysian, Arabic, German, Turkish, French, Portuguese, Italian and Russian.
Canadians are twice as raunchy as all other languages, according to the emoji study. They use twice as many so-called 'raunchy humour emoji', including the banana, eggplant, peach, cherries and Cancer astrological symbol than average.
Vietnamese and French are half as raunchy as the average and US English speakers are the top users of the eggplant emoji at more than double the average.
Italians use the banana emoji the most.
Canadians are twice as raunchy as all other languages, according to the emoji study. They use twice as many so-called 'raunchy humour emoji', including the banana, eggplant, peach, cherries and Cancer astrological symbol than average (pictured)
Most watched News videos
- Viral video shows adorable moment a polar bear pets a dog
- Mob storm police station and lynch suspected paedophile
- Autistic boy bursts into tears on stage as teacher snatches microphone
- PA at City insurance firm glasses recruitment consultant
- Pascal the Puppy recovers after suffering horrific glue drowning ordeal
- Locals react to earthquake in Wanaka, New Zealand
- Married woman shamed in Kenya after lover gets stuck inside her
- Best of friends? A polar bear pats a dog just like a human
- Daughter confronts mum who filmed her perform sex act on dad
- 100 special police agents protect suspected paedophile from mob
- Shelley Duvall: Robin Williams isn't dead, he's a shapeshifter
- Is this the creepy moment the corpse of a girl OPENS her eyes?