The rise of the emoji

Words have always been a source of fascination for me and I often attribute my passion for language to the many hours that my dear old mum spent reading to us as children. Quite apart from the traditional bedtime story slot at home, she would often have a book stowed away in the glove compartment of the family car, to be brought out on long journeys and read by torchlight as my dad drove us to our destination.

Seeing a similar level of enthusiasm for books beginning to develop within my own boys gives me indescribable pleasure and it is for this reason that I continue to make time for sharing a bedtime story with my youngest. This has always been our opportunity for spending quality time together (not to mention my best chance of managing a good old snuggle!) the only difference being that the rather simplistic picture books of early childhood have given way to gripping adventure novels whose chapters provide the perfect conditions for allowing the imagination to run wild.

And boy, does it run wild!

One thing that took a little time for him to grasp, however, was that words can be used figuratively. Indeed, it would often be several days before I’d realise that he had taken a particular phrase absolutely literally and then spent hours desperately trying to decipher its meaning. And, if I’m honest, I can see just how such confusion arises.

The English language is by no means straightforward – with seemingly many more exceptions than rules. Add into the mix our almost addictive penchant for using a range of metaphors (mixed or otherwise) and non-native speakers must frequently risk finding themselves in a linguistic minefield. I can see why the (not so humble) emoji holds such appeal! Furthermore, just as you think that you have found a saying that aptly supports the case that you are trying to put forward, some ‘smart Alec’ (rather infuriatingly) manages to come up with a gloriously contradictory one!

I seem to have spent the last few days ‘checking in’ with various friends, being all too aware of just how easily the busy daily routine can prevent us from nurturing our relationships with others. I have genuinely struggled to find the time to commit my thoughts to (virtual) paper of late either and this got me thinking… Would the absence of something to read (amongst my loyal followers at least) ‘make the heart grow fonder’ or would it simply be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’?

I concluded (rather grudgingly) that it is probably a case of the latter. After all, ‘Time (or at least the world of social media) waits for no (wo)man’ and anyway, (as Robert Half rightly observed) an ego trip is ‘a journey to nowhere’.

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