…when it’s Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year, it seems.

In case you’ve not heard, this year Oxford Dictionaries has named the ‘crying laughing’ emoji as its Word of the Year.

You know, this one…

cry-laughing-emoji

So how exactly has Oxford University Press justified this latest addition to the canon?

‘Word’ of the year, 2015

According to Oxford Dictionaries, the Word of the Year is chosen to ‘best reflect the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of the year in question’.

And while the emoji – a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication – has been around since the late-90s, the use of emojis has massively increased during 2015.

In light of this, Oxford University Press teamed up with a leading mobile technology business to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emojis across the world.

And the ‘crying laughing’ emoji came out on top, making  up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US – a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014.

Pulling a stunt like this was sure to cause consternation among word nerds the world over, particularly given Oxford Dictionaries could have chosen the word ’emoji’ as that has also seen a massive surge in usage during the last 12 months.

The word emoji comes from the Japanese 絵 (e ≅ picture) + 文字 (moji ≅ written character) and while it’s been found in English since 1997, usage more than tripled in 2015.

On a personal level, anything that hastens the official adoption of the Seinfeld emojis (below) has to be seen as a positive!

Seinfeld-Emoji

But in picking an emoticon over an actual word is Oxford Dictionaries trolling us?

Troll-a-LOL

It’s been almost ten years since the popular definition of a troll went from describing an ugly dwarf-like creature or giant to the act of “making a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.”

The latter certainly seems to describe Oxford Dictionaries’ move to make a symbol its word of the year, but given the words on the shortlist, we could actually have done a lot worse…

shortlist-WOTY-2015

And we shouldn’t really be surprised as Oxford University Press has previous when it comes to controversial entries for word of the year, the past ten years’ winners are as follows:

  • Chav (2004)
  • Sudoku (2005)
  • Bovvered (2006)
  • Carbon footprint (2007)
  • Credit crunch (2008)
  • Simples (2009)
  • Big society (2010)
  • Squeezed middle (2011)
  • Omnishambles (2012)
  • Selfie (2013)
  • Vape (2014)

Maybe the Oxford Dictionaries 2016 Word of the Year should be ‘clickbait’…

What do you make of the choice for the 2015 Word of the Year? Or the Word of the Year thing as a whole? Let us know…

 

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