• 3-minute read
  • 17th July 2019

Can You Proofread Emoji? (World Emoji Day)

Some people ❤️ them. Other people think they’re . Either way, emoji (or emojis, depending on who you ask) are a big part of how people communicate online these days. And, since it is World Emoji Day, we’ve been wondering: Can we proofread emoji? Let’s look, then, at whether emoji are a “language” and what it would mean to “proofread” them.

Are Emoji a Language?

The short answer here is “no.” In a literal sense, emoji are not a language according to most definitions. Instead, we use emoji to add something to writing for various reasons, including:

  • Replacing a noun with a single image (e.g., Have you fed the ?)
  • Clarifying the tone of a message, such as indicating a joke with .
  • For purely visual or decorative reasons.

You can see examples of all the above on Cher’s Twitter timeline.

In case it isn’t clear, Cher really likes emoji.

Thus, emoji clearly have an important role in modern communication – especially online. But they’re not quite a language.

This is partly because, while we can string emoji together to express a thought, they don’t have “grammar” in the same way that a language like English does. For example, you cannot easily express when something happened with emoji because they don’t have verb tenses.

Another problem is intelligibility. When two people share a language, they should be able to read the same sentence and understand it in the same way (at least most of the time). However, emoji are often ambiguous, so two people may interpret the same string of symbols in very different ways.

When to Use Emoji in a Document

For now, it is better to think of emoji as a way of adding something to writing rather than a language. And they are certainly useful in some situations, such as on social media, even if you’re not as enthusiastic as Cher.

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However, it would still be unusual to add emoji in most documents!

The main exception is when you want something to sound friendly and informal, like a message from a friend, such as in adverts or marketing emails. But they are not generally accepted in academic or business writing. Yet.

Emoji = Future of language? Maybe when we work out a better way of representing prepositions.


Can You Proofread Emoji?

We do not currently offer a dedicated emoji proofreading service. So if you are writing a novel using nothing but tiny pictures, we can only wish you good luck. Having said that, we’re aware emoji have a role in modern writing. And if you send us a document that contains emoji, we will always do our best to:

  • Make sure the use of emoji fits the tone and style of the document.
  • Highlight any emoji that might be ambiguous or that seem unclear.
  • Suggest alternatives if emoji seem to have been used incorrectly.

So the answer to our question above is, we suppose, a qualified “yes.” We can proofread emoji. Or, at the very least, we can help you make sure you use emoji effectively in your writing. And if they ever do become an independent language, we’ll have a proofreading service to match.

Comments (2)
Kelly M Bryan
20th July 2019 at 20:07
Fun article. But, typo alert: In the paragraph under the heading Can You Proofread Emoji, the sentence that introduces the list should say "do our best."
    22nd July 2019 at 08:15
    Thanks, Kelly! Corrected now.

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