The Oxford Dictionaries’ World of the Year 2015 is in fact a picture, and the choice has drawn criticism online.
Those responsible for picking the word of the year apparently subscribe to the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, writes Nicole Lyn Pesce for NY Daily News. There are precious few alternative explanations for the fact that 2015 will be remembered as the year that the “face with tears of joy” emoji was named word of the year.
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Judges argue emoji have become important form of communication
It marks the first time that the word of the year hasn’t been an actual word. Usually the Oxford University Press picks a word that they believe sums up an entire year, but this time around their choice came straight out of left-field.
“Emoji are no longer the preserve of texting teens – instead, they have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and one which can cross language barriers,” the judges explained in a blog post on Tuesday night.
This particular emoji was the most used around the world in 2015, and the judges used tweets from Zendaya and Domino’s Pizza to show its usage. They also posted a tweet from Hillary Clinton in which the U.S. politician asked her followers to use emoji to tell her how they felt about their student loans.
Choice of emoji ignites online criticism
The posts were employed to support their argument that emojis have become an important form of communication in the digital realm, and deserve recognition. Other internet users were not convinced by the choice and expressed their discontent online.
“Does this mark the final nail in the coffin of Oxford Dictionaries?” wrote Peter J. King below the Oxford blog post. “I feel dumber for having looked at this,” added commentator TJac. “Not sure that is the purposes of a dictionary.”
While the emoji may have taken top spot, the remainder of the top 10 was made up of real words. Among their number were ad blocker, “a piece of software designed to prevent advertisements from appearing on a web page,” and Brexit, “a term for the potential or hypothetical departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, from British + exit.”
Among the stranger entries were “on fleek,” which apparently means “extremely good, attractive, or stylish,” and “lumbersexual,” “a young urban man who cultivates an appearance and style of dress (typified by a beard and check shirt) suggestive of a rugged outdoor lifestyle.”
The list is rounded out by “Dark Web,” “refugee,” “sharing economy,” and “they.”