Are You Sending Emoji or Emojis? Understanding the Plural Form

Marcus Froland

Emojis have become a universal language in digital communication, crossing borders and cultures with ease. They add color, emotion, and clarity to our messages, making conversations more engaging. But when it comes to writing about them, a simple question arises: do we say “emoji” or “emojis” for the plural?

This question might seem small, but it’s part of a bigger picture in learning English. The way we use words reflects our understanding of the language. By looking at this example, we can learn more about plural forms in English. It’s not just about emojis; it’s about how we adapt new words into everyday conversation.

When talking about more than one emoji, you might wonder if you should say “emoji” or “emojis.” The correct plural form can be both. In English, using “emojis” is common and easily understood. However, the word emoji comes from Japanese, where there is no change for plural. So, saying “emoji” for both singular and plural is also correct. It depends on your preference or the style of the text you are writing. In everyday conversation, most people use “emojis” to talk about more than one emoji. Remember, both forms are acceptable.

Exploring the Origin: Emoji or Emojis Debate

The conversation surrounding the plural form of ’emoji’ has gained momentum with the increasing use of these pictorial characters in digital communication. While it’s clear that the term ’emoji’ originates from Japanese, where the characters were developed to enhance mobile communication, an ongoing debate persists about the appropriate plural form.

Some experts argue that English speakers should use the term ’emojis’ for clarity and to conform to familiar English pluralization rules. Others, however, maintain that certain loanwords from Japanese, such as ‘sushi,’ remain unchanged in the plural form. Consequently, the preference may hinge on a speaker’s familiarity with Japanese, possibly influencing whether they pluralize the loanword or not.

“The debate over the appropriate plural form of ’emoji’ is both incredibly simple and unexpectedly complicated.” – Lucia Peters, Bustle

Let’s examine some discrepancies in the pluralization of other Japanese loanwords:

English Singular Japanese Singular English Plural Japanese Plural
emoji 絵文字 (emoji) emojis 絵文字 (emoji)
tsunami 津波 (tsunami) tsunamis 津波 (tsunami)
sushi 寿司 (sushi) sushi 寿司 (sushi)

As depicted in the table, while some Japanese loanwords, like ‘tsunami,’ adhere to English pluralization rules and add an -s, others, like ‘sushi,’ remain unaltered in their plural form. This inconsistency contributes to the ongoing debate on whether to use ’emoji’ or ’emojis’ when discussing multiple instances of these digital characters.

  1. Clearer communication: In some cases, English speakers may find it easier to use ’emojis’ because it aligns with typical plural forms in English, thereby offering a sense of clarity and familiarity.
  2. Linguistic preference: A speaker’s knowledge of Japanese and its cultural associations may sway their choice between ’emoji’ and ’emojis.’
  3. Contextual factors: The context of the conversation and demographic of the audience may also impact the pluralization preference.

The Japanese Roots of Emoji: A Brief History

The history of emojis can be traced back to their inception in Japan during the 1990s, when a unique form of mobile expression was born from the combination of Japanese kanji and existing kaomoji. The man responsible for this innovation is Shigetaka Kurita, who developed emojis for pagers and cellphones, rapidly revolutionizing Japan’s mobile market.

The Birth of Emoji in Japan

Inspired by the simplicity and expressiveness of Japanese kanji and the playful nature of kaomoji, Shigetaka Kurita took it upon himself to create a set of pictographic characters that combined these concepts into a new form of communication. These emojis quickly gained popularity in Japan, becoming an integral part of mobile messaging and ultimately dominating the country’s digital landscape.

“Emoji” is derived from the Japanese words “e” (picture) and “moji” (character).

Emojis Invade the Western World

While Japan had been immersed in the world of emojis for over a decade, millions of people in Western countries remained unaware of their existence. However, the release of Apple’s iOS 5 in 2011 marked a turning point in the history of emojis as it introduced them to a much larger, global audience. This newfound popularity could be attributed to the integration of emojis into the Unicode Standard version 6.0 in 2010, which ensured a standardized set of symbols for all users around the world. Emojis essentially filled the void left by their precursor, emoticons, which were previously the primary means of expressing emotions in text form in Western countries.

  1. 1990s: Shigetaka Kurita creates emojis for pagers and cellphones in Japan.
  2. 2010: Emojis are integrated into Unicode Standard version 6.0.
  3. 2011: Apple introduces emojis to the Western world through iOS 5.
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As an interesting aside, emojis weren’t the first symbols developed to express emotions in written text. In fact, credit for the invention of the emoticon goes to Scott E. Fahlman. These simple combinations of punctuation marks laid the foundation for the more intricate, visually engaging emojis that have come to occupy such a prominent place in modern digital communication.

English Pluralization: The Case for ‘Emojis’

When it comes to the pluralization of loanwords in the English language, many words undergo adjustments to align with English grammatical rules. This linguistic tendency has led to a preference for using the term ’emojis’ to describe multiple emoji symbols. Given the typical pattern of adding an ‘s’ at the end of words for plurality in English, it is not surprising that ’emojis’ has gained traction in regular usage.

Professionals in linguistic fields, such as Mark Allen from the American Copy Editors Society, support this view. They argue that treating the word ’emoji’ as a regular English noun and pluralizing it to ’emojis’ simplifies communication and aligns with other English plural forms, like ‘tsunamis.’

“The common pattern in English to add ‘s’ for plural forms gives ’emojis’ an edge in regular English usage.” – Mark Allen, American Copy Editors Society

Consistency in linguistic patterns also aids readability and comprehension, making the preference for ’emojis’ understandable. To illustrate this, we can examine other loanwords that have been adapted in a similar manner:

Original Japanese Word English Singular Form English Plural Form
Tsunami Tsunami Tsunamis
Karaoke Karaoke Karaokes
Manga Manga Mangas

By adopting the plural form ’emojis,’ you follow a linguistic pattern already familiar to English speakers. This helps maintain clarity and ease of understanding in your digital communication.

Grammatical Guidance: What Do the Experts Say?

When it comes to the plural form of “emoji,” there is a diverse range of opinions from experts and style guides. In order to better understand perspectives on the matter, we’ll discuss both the views of various publications and style guides, and the linguistic standpoint on this subject.

Style Guides and Publications Weigh In

Notable publications like The Atlantic and The New York Times have not fully settled on a consistent plural style for “emoji.” However, the AP Stylebook indicates a preference for “emojis.” The New York Times’, Philip Corbett, has also expressed a preference for using “emojis,” citing the need for clarity and a lack of ambiguity in written text. The orientational flux surrounding this issue is evident in the varying usages, even within reputable and established publications and style guides.

The Linguistic Standpoint on Emoji Variance

Linguistic perspectives highlight the complex rules governing the integration of loanwords into English. Linguistic expert, Gretchen McCulloch, points out that while there’s a general trend to treat loanwords as regular English words, some words from familiar languages retain their original plural forms. Japanese loanwords, such as “emoji,” “tsunami,” and “sushi,” illustrate this lack of a clear pattern for pluralization.

“With Japanese loanwords, there is no clear pattern of pluralization, resulting in diverse interpretations and preferences, often influenced by the speaker’s linguistic background and the cultural association of the words.” – Gretchen McCulloch, Linguistic Expert

This varied interpretation and preference regarding the plural form of “emoji” can create confusion and disagreement. However, as McCulloch highlighted, these inconsistencies can be attributed to the intersection of multiple linguistic rules related to the English language’s handling of loanwords.

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‘Emoji’ vs. ‘Emojis’: A Look at Common Usage Trends

Usage trends for the term ’emoji’ versus ’emojis’ show little consensus amongst English speakers. While some purists adhere to the original Japanese singularity of the term, others align with the inclination to pluralize consistent with English norms. The use of ’emoji’ or ’emojis’ in major publications demonstrates the variation and lack of a standard style, revealing an evolving and unsettled trend in the English language.

Publication ‘Emoji’ Usage ‘Emojis’ Usage
The Atlantic 20% 80%
The New York Times 40% 60%
Emojipedia 10% 90%

This discrepancy can be seen in publications such as The Atlantic and The New York Times, which have yet to establish a consistent style regarding the plural form of the term. In these cases, authors may switch between using ’emoji’ and ’emojis’ within the same article. This inconsistency highlights the ongoing debate among linguists, editors, and writers alike.

“The debate over the appropriate plural form of ’emoji’ is both incredibly simple and unexpectedly complicated.” – Lucia Peters, Bustle

It is important to note that both forms may be used interchangeably depending on the context and the writer’s preferences. This flexibility is not uncommon in English, as the language is known for adapting and evolving over time. Despite the unsettled trend in usage, it is unlikely that one form will emerge as the absolute correct plural form in the foreseeable future.

  1. Associated Press Stylebook: supports both ’emoji’ and ’emojis’
  2. The Atlantic: predominantly uses ’emojis’
  3. The New York Times: favors ’emojis’, but occasionally uses ’emoji’
  4. Emojipedia: predominantly uses ’emojis’

The debate over the correct plural form of ’emoji’ will likely continue as the English language continues to evolve. The key is to be aware that both forms are widely accepted and that the choice may ultimately come down to the writer’s preference or the style guide they choose to follow. Regardless of which term one elects to use, it is essential to remain consistent in its utilization throughout any given piece of writing.

Emojis in Digital Communication: Enhancing or Hindering?

Emojis have become an integral aspect of digital communication, with platforms like Facebook Messenger reporting billions being sent daily. These little images serve to enrich communication and add enjoyment, as intended by their creator, Shigetaka Kurita. While their general purpose is innocent and lighthearted, the use of emojis in various contexts can also be ambiguous, affecting the clarity of messages sent.

The Role of Emojis in Messaging and Social Media

Emojis consistently appear in text messages, social media posts, and even in professional environments like emails. They are used to convey emotions, emphasize a point, or occasionally replace entire words within a sentence. Ideally, emojis should improve the quality of communication by adding some form of emotional context to otherwise plain text. However, the potential for misunderstanding due to emojis is significant, especially when taken out of context or misinterpreted by the recipient.

Emojis and the Potential for Miscommunication

While emojis were designed to help express emotions in digital communication, there have been instances where their inclusion has led to confusion or unintentional offense.

  • The “laughing until crying” emoji and “tears of joy” emoji, for example, might bear different connotations for different users.
  • The same emoji may appear differently across various operating systems, leading to further confusion.
  • Some emojis may be seen as insensitive or inappropriate when used in certain contexts, such as when expressing condolences or discussing a serious topic.

“The potential for emojis to lead to misinterpretation is significant, as highlighted by instances where the intended meaning did not match the receiver’s understanding.”

Considering the numerous factors that make emojis susceptible to miscommunication, it becomes essential for users to remain cautious in their usage. While emojis can undoubtedly enrich and add an element of fun to our conversations, it is crucial to consider the context, audience, and potential for misinterpretation before using them.

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Cultural Perception: How Emoji Use Varies Globally

The adoption and use of emojis can differ widely across cultures. Various factors, such as cultural backgrounds, social norms, and language preferences, contribute to this diversity in emoji interpretation and usage. This section explores the distinct preferences for certain emojis in different countries and the impact that cultural connotations have on the type and frequency of emojis used.

Twitter data provides insightful information regarding the different emoji preferences across countries. For instance, five countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Japan – each showcase unique emoji preferences.

Country 1st Place Emoji 2nd Place Emoji 3rd Place Emoji
United States 😂 ❤️ 😍
United Kingdom 😂 ❤️ 😩
Canada 😂 ❤️ 😢
France 😂 😍 ❤️
Japan 😢 😭 😃

For an even more comprehensive perspective on global emoji usage, offers a real-time view of emoji trends on Twitter. With a continuously updating feed, users can observe the constantly evolving preferences and patterns in emoji usage across diverse cultures.

Notably, the cultural connotations of certain emojis can vary, sometimes leading to misunderstandings when communication transcends borders. For example, the “thumbs up” emoji might be considered a gesture of approval in the United States, while in countries like Iran, it carries a negative connotation. Understanding cultural differences in emoji use can help to bridge the gap in digital communication and foster global understanding.

Emoji Etiquette: When and How to Use Them

Emoji usage comes with an implied etiquette, particularly in understanding when their use is appropriate. The insertion of emojis in messages should be considered carefully, especially in sensitive conversations where they can seem trivializing or impersonal. Misapplied emojis can also lead to miscommunications and unintended implications. Given their capacity to replace words, it’s essential for users to be aware of the emotional weight and context when choosing to include emojis in their digital interactions.

The origin of the conversation surrounding the plural form of ’emoji’ can be traced to their increasing presence in digital communication. The use of ’emoji’ or ’emojis’ in major publications demonstrates the variation and lack of a standard style, revealing an evolving and unsettled trend in the English language. Experts and style guides have provided varied opinions. While publications like The Atlantic and The New York Times have not fully settled on a consistent style, the AP Stylebook has leaned towards ’emojis.’

As emojis continue to dominate digital communication, understanding the nuances of emoji usage and the ongoing debate surrounding their plural form becomes crucial. By staying informed and keeping in mind the etiquette associated with emoji use, you’ll be better equipped to navigate complex digital interactions while expressing yourself effectively and authentically.