I find, at least as they are usually used, that they are too small for me to pick out the details. Most of the facial expressions look alike, and I can rarely tell what the other objects are. I guess I’m getting old. And then there’s the problem of understanding the not-so-obvious meaning of objects that are not to be taken literally. Fortunately I recently came across an article that not only discusses that issue but also explores the use of emojis as rebuses and even gives us a statistical analysis of the most frequently used emojis. Let’s start with the last of these, as it gives us a ready window into the other issues. This pie chart, taken from the article, is revealing. As you see, “😂 Face with Tears of Joy” takes pride of place, representing ten percent of all emoji tokens. I have never used it. I don’t even understand when I might use it. Oh well
The rebus uses are peculiar, but not really surprising. The article that contained the above pie chart discusses them in some interesting detail, including what author Jane Solomon calls “emoji spelling”: “im🍑ment,” for instance. Those of us who are still living in the dark ages would call that a rebus, and Ben Zimmer has given that usage his blessing, so I’m sticking with rebus. (This is not be confused with the use of “rebus” to mean the insertion of two or more letters in a single cell in a crossword puzzle.)
Finally: Happy Exelauno Day! If you don’t know what that is, check out my post of exactly two years ago.