Emojis succeeded not because they were language, but precisely because they were not a language
Emoji didn’t succeed because they were a language, they succeeded because they're not a language. Rather than try to compete with words on their home turf, emoji added in a whole new system to represent a whole other layer of meaning. We already had a way of representing individual sounds, in the form of letters, and we've been developing the system for representing tone of voice using our existing punctuation and capitalization that we talked about in the previous chapter. So emoji and other pictorial elements are filling the third important pillar of communication: a way of representing our gestures and physical space.
Thinking of emoji as gestures helps put things into perspective if we're tempted to start thinking, "If words were good enough for Shakespeare, why aren't they good enough for us?" We can pause and realize that plain words weren't actually good enough for Shakespeare. A lot of what Shakespeare wrote was plays, designed not to be read on a page, but to be performed by people. How many of us have struggled through reading Shakespeare as a disembodied script in school, only to see him come to life in a well-acted production?
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