Japanese emoji design - expressing emotions in the digital age

Japanese emoji design – expressing emotions in the digital age

Written by Vyvyan Evans, CNN

Professor Vyvyan Evans is an internationally renowned expert on language and digital communication. He has published 14 books on language, meaning and mind. This is an edited excerpt from his latest book, “The Emoji Code” published by Picador and Michael O’Mara Books.

Emojis have become, without a doubt, a design classic. But how effective are they as a communication tool? Over 6 billion emojis are sent on a daily basis, with over 90% of the world’s online community making regular use of them. Emojis may be one of Japan’s greatest-ever exports.

Today they are even officially classified as art. In 2016, New York’s Museum of Modern Art added emojis to its permanent collection — more specifically, the original 176 emojis, designed by Tokyo-based software engineer Shigetaka Kurita in 1999.

Kurita’s original emojis, licensed to the MoMA by NTT DoCoMo, now sit alongside works by Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock.

In the late 1990s, Kurita — working for NTT DoCoMo, one of the largest Japanese mobile telephone operators — was involved in the development of the world’s first commercial, mobile-specific internet browser system. Given display limitations in early Japanese smart phone screens, Kurita decided to develop pictograms to make displaying information more effective.

Taking their name from the Japanese word for “picture character,” emojis were born.

Is emoji a language?

What makes English, Japanese, or Swahili a language is the presence of two things: words and rules. And it is the unique nature of this organization that allows us to express complex and subtle ideas that cannot be expressed using other systems of communication.

Language is organized into meaningful units such as words, and a system of rules — a grammar — that enables us to compose our words and express everything from the gnawing ache of unrequited love to a banal observation on the weather.

Compared to, say, English, emoji has a far, far smaller ‘vocabulary.’

A few of Kurita's early emoji faces

A few of Kurita’s early emoji faces
Credit: Shigetaka Kurita

While new emojis are introduced each year, the number of emojis available is vanishingly small compared to the range and complexity of vocabulary items that a competent native speaker possesses — currently there are fewer than 2,000 emojis available on a smartphone near you.

Compare this with the English words you have at your fingertips: by the age of five, and barely out of kindergarten, you would already have known around 5,000 English words, reaching an impressive 12,000 by your early teens — far outstripping the total number of emojis currently available.

But adding more and more emojis will only get us so far.

A potentially insurmountable problem is the sheer difficulty of expressing abstract ideas using a pictographic form. Winks, smileys, eggplants and dumplings are one thing — but how might we go about representing, say, “chauvinism,” “feminist,” “ethical” or “iconoclastic” in emoji?

The proposed new dumpling emoji

The proposed new dumpling emoji

Even if an emoji “language” could somehow overcome the lack of working vocabulary to express all the things we need a language to say, words, on their own, still don’t get us very far.

The hallmark of language is grammar. We use it, without even knowing it, to do the heavy lifting: combining vocabulary items to create sentences of potentially great complexity.

But even this has not put off some dedicated aficionados.

For instance, designer Ken Hale is so passionate about emoji that he has translated literary classics like Alice in Wonderland into the characters. Hale calls his approach to creating an emoji language “crypto-semantics.”

Nevertheless, like any language, unless you go through a process of learning what the symbols mean and how they are combined, then Hale’s emoji language remains a foreign tongue.

Quotations from Alice in Wonderland, translated into Emoji by Joe Hale

Quotations from Alice in Wonderland, translated into Emoji by Joe Hale

Communicating emotion in the digital age

So if emoji isn’t a language, what is it for? Some see emoji as little more than an adolescent grunt, taking us back to the dark ages of illiteracy. But this prejudice fundamentally misunderstands the nature of communication — and in so doing, it radically underestimates the potentially powerful and beneficial role of emoji in the digital age as a communication tool.

All too often we think of language as the kingpin in our everyday world of meaning. But much of the meaning we convey and glean in our everyday social encounters comes from nonverbal cues.

In the spoken medium, gesture, facial expression, body language and speech intonation provide a means of qualifying and adjusting the message conveyed by our words. A wink or smile provides a crucial cue, aiding our understanding.

Digital communication provides us with an important channel of communication in our increasingly connected social and professional lives.

But the rich, communicative context available in face-to-face encounters is largely absent in a digital setting. Digital text-speak alone is impoverished, seemingly possessing the power to strip all forms of nuanced expression from even the best of us. But here emoji can help: it fulfills a similar function in digital communication to that of gesture, body language and intonation in spoken interaction.

Emoji enables us to better express tone and provide emotional cues; and in turn, our addressees are better able to interpret what the words are meant to convey.

How emojis can reveal the meaning behind words

How emojis can reveal the meaning behind words

Imagine you send this text to a friend or partner: “I tripped and banged my head on the cupboard.” They might not know whether to sympathize or laugh. But a sad face at the end provides a nonverbal cue, a metacomment, providing a clear tell: “I’m in pain.” A tears of joy emoji, on the other hand, tells us the sender finds the situation funny: “I’m such a buffoon.”

We live in a digital age, and emoji is an adaptation to this most recent arena of human interaction.

It helps get the job done when the tried and tested interpersonal cues that oil spoken interaction are absent.

And in the process, it helps avoid what I dub the “angry jerk” phenomenon: the emoji-less emails and texts that seem to be shouting at us. Emoji puts the nuancing back in, better allowing us to express our emotional selves in our brave new 21st century world.

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12 London restaurants with great views

(CNN) — This Thursday in London, “haute cuisine” will be taken to a whole new level.
The global pop-up dining experience Dinner in the Sky is back for 2018, and will be strapping groups of diners around a table and hoisting them 100 feet up in the air by crane.

From July 5 to 15, 2018, breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner menus created by award-winning chefs Robin Gill (The Dairy), Lee Wescott (The Typing Room) and Pascal Aussignac (Club Gascon) will be served alongside spectacular views of the Thames and London landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard.

Tickets start at $65 (£50) per person and are selling out fast.

But you needn’t risk spilling your aperitif onto gawkers below to enjoy elevated eating in the British capital. There are plenty of more comfortable indoor options.

We take the measure of the best — and most thrilling — “uppity” eateries in London.

Helix and Iris

Helix restaurant and Iris bar, levels 39 and 40 of the Gherkin, London

The public will soon be able to dine at the top of one of London’s favorite buildings.

Courtesy Searcys at the Gherkin

Helix Restaurant and Iris Bar, on levels 39 and 40 of the Norman Foster-designed Gherkin building — a much-loved star of the London skyline — open to the public for the first time on July 13, having previously only been available for exclusive hire and private events.

Helix’s executive chef Daniel Loftin is behind a menu featuring seasonal British produce such as Dorset crab, Rhug Estate Welsh lamb and English green asparagus.

Iris Bar, which offers spectacular 360-degree views over the City, will unveil a new London-inspired cocktail list, including the Jack the Ripper — with Mediterranean herbs vodka, beet juice, tomato, lemon and Worcester sauce — a dark local twist on the Bloody Mary.

Oblix at the Shard

Stunning dinner-time views from London's tallest building.

Stunning dinner-time views from London’s tallest building.

Courtesy Richard Southal/Ilona Zielinska

The Shard is home to several fancy eateries, but Oblix is the original and the most elevated, situated on the 32nd floor of the glass skyscraper. Oblix has a New York-inspired rotisserie theme — a departure for founder Rainer Becker, whose other restaurants, Zuma, Roka and the newly opened Inko Nito, are Japanese-themed.

Diners are treated to panoramic views of the cityscape — staggering at sunset, but eminently Instagrammable all day long. Try Oblix’s late-night menu: three courses and a complimentary cocktail can be enjoyed for £39 per person ($51).

Where to find it: Oblix, 32/F, The Shard, 31 St. Thomas St., London SE1 9RY; +44 (0)20 7268 6700

Duck and Waffle

Duck and Waffle offers delicious food and views 24/7.

Duck and Waffle offers delicious food and views 24/7.

Courtesy Duck and Waffle

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not treat yourself to waffles amongst the clouds? Duck and Waffle is located on the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate (Heron Tower) and even in London fog its impressive.
The restaurant’s signature dish is its eponymous duck and waffle, but it’s open 24/7, serving all-day food described as traditional cuisine of England with European influences.

Duck and Waffle’s signature dish will cost you £16 ($21) from the breakfast menu, but two eggs any style comes in at £8 ($10.50) — comparable to many less glamorous brunch spots in the capital.

Where to find it: 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY; +44 (0)20 3640 7310

Galvin at Windows

Admire the greenery of Hyde Park from the luxurious surroundings of Galvin at Windows.

Admire the greenery of Hyde Park from the luxurious surroundings of Galvin at Windows.

Courtesy Galvin at Windows

Holding fort in upper-crust Mayfair is Galvin at Windows, the Michelin-starred French restaurant on the 28th floor of the Hilton Park Lane Hotel. Known for its sterling service, the restaurant also supports the charity Galvin’s Chance, which helps disadvantaged young people get into hospitality.

More classical in style than some of the city”s newer high-rise eateries, visitors are still treated to stunning aerial views of London’s Hyde Park.

Where to find it: Galvin at Windows, 28/F, 22 Park Lane, London W1K 1BE; +44 (0)20 7208 4021

OXO Tower Restaurant

Dine with a view of St Paul's and the Thames at OXO, on London's Southbank.

Dine with a view of St Paul’s and the Thames at OXO, on London’s Southbank.

Courtesy OXO Tower Restaurants/Harvey Nichols

The iconic rooftop OXO restaurant has been wowing restaurant-goers since 1996, operated by chic British department store stalwart Harvey Nichols.

As one of London’s older rooftop restaurants, OXO is at a much lower altitude than its City counterparts. Don’t let that put you off — this lower vantage point allows diners to watch the boats drift by on the Thames and enjoy a stunning view of St Paul’s Cathedral — and is more palatable for those with a fear of heights.

Why not try OXO’s “Not Afternoon Tea,” a scone-free affair in which Champagne is traded for cocktails and desserts are modeled after ice cream vans. Alternatively, it’s the perfect brunch spot — while away your Sunday morning looking out over the Thames.

Where to find it: Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London SE1 9PH; +44 (0) 20 7021 1686

Fenchurch Restaurant

Fenchurch New Menu - Web Sized28

Fenchurch Restaurant offers panoramic views of London below.

Courtesy Sky Garden

Head to the “Walkie Talkie” skyscraper (AKA 20 Fenchurch Street) to enjoy a landscaped indoor garden known as the Sky Garden, wide observation desks and state-of-the art restaurants and bars.
Fenchurch Rooftop Restaurant serves “British contemporary” food and stylish cocktails. It’s the perfect place to sit and admire the city below.
The Sky Garden is also well worth wandering around: its lush greenery forming a striking contrast with the concrete jungle glimpsed through the windows. A visit to the Garden is free, you just need to book online in advance. The building is also home to the Darwin Brasserie and the Sky Pod Bar.

Where to find it: Sky Garden, 1 Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF; +44 (0) 333 772 0020

Boundary Rooftop

Shoreditch's Boundary rooftop is the perfect spot to while away a summer's evening.

Shoreditch’s Boundary rooftop is the perfect spot to while away a summer’s evening.

Courtesy Boundary

For year-round rooftop dining, head to the hipster hotbed of Shoreditch, East London. The Boundary restaurant rewards visitors with vistas of East London and a heated orangery filled with citrus trees.

Cosy and inviting even in winter, the heated roof offers 360-degree views of the City skyscrapers and East London’s skyline. Food is served sizzling from the Robata Grill and cocktails are available into the early hours of the morning.

Where to find it: 2-4 Boundary Street, Shoreditch, London E2 7DD; +44 (0) 20 7729 1051


alto by San Carlo. Pop-up restaurant on Selfridges rooftop, London

Catch it while you can: alto by San Carlo is the Selfridges pop-up for the 2018 season.

Courtesy alto by San Carlo

On the rooftop of Selfridges, the iconic London department store, pop-up restaurants and bars appear seasonally. The current resident is alto by San Carlo — an Italian spot with a retractable roof for when the sun shines. Lunch and dinner can be enjoyed from this vantage point, which surveys London’s Oxford Street — Europe’s busiest shopping street.

Where to find it: Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB; +44 (0) 20 7318 3287

Aqua Nueva

Sample stunning Spanish fine dining at Aqua Nueva, then sit back and admire this vista.

Sample stunning Spanish fine dining at Aqua Nueva, then sit back and admire this vista.

Courtesy Aqua Nueva

Aqua Nueva delivers stunning Spanish food with views to match. Its Art Deco-style interior offers intimate dining, but its rooftop exterior is where it’s at. In the evening, Regent Street’s shops — including iconic Tudor-revival department store Liberty’s — are illuminated and diners can spot the London Eye in the distance.

Somewhere between a trendy evening hotspot and a fine-dining restaurant, Aqua Nueva is as perfect for after-work summer cocktails as it is for a luxury evening meal.

Where to find it: 5th floor, 240 Regent Street (Entrance 30 Argyll Street), London W1B 3BR; +44 (0) 20 7478 0540

Coq d’Argent

Admire London's eastern cluster of skyscrapers from Coq d'Argent's manicured lawn.

Admire London’s eastern cluster of skyscrapers from Coq d’Argent’s manicured lawn.

Courtesy Thomas Alexander/Coq d’Argent

Coq d’Argent promises classic French food in a contemporary, rooftop setting. The rooftop comes complete with a lawn, hedges and spectacular views of London’s eastern cluster of skyscrapers.

The high-quality menu includes baked lobster and Australian sirloin steak. But beware, you’ll be surrounded by suits as this is bankers’ territory.

Where to find it: No. 1 Poultry, London EC2R 8EJ; +44 (0) 20 7395 5000

Radio rooftop bar

Survey the city skyline from the 10th floor of the ME Hotel on The Strand.

Survey the city skyline from the 10th floor of the ME Hotel on The Strand.

Courtesy Chris Orange

A swish bar designed by legendary UK architectural firm Foster + Partners, Radio serves weekend brunch, a modern spin on afternoon tea, sharing plates, lunch and signature cocktails. Located in the five-star ME Hotel and overlooking the Strand and London’s theater district, visitors can peer at the hustle and bustle of the streets below or look out towards the river Thames.

Where to find it: ME London, 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA; +44 (0) 20 7395 3440

Qin Xie is a London-based freelance journalist and trained chef.

Francesca Street is a London-based journalist, writing features with a focus on travel, arts and culture.

This article was previously published in 2013. It was reformatted and republished in 2018.

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Akshay Kumar's Gold: All you need to know about independent India's first Olympic gold

Akshay Kumar’s Gold: All you need to know about independent India’s first Olympic gold

Akshay Kumar in Gold (L) and the film’s poster

Akshay Kumar is currently in London shooting for Reema Kagti’s Gold. The film, which marks the Bollywood debut of television actor Mouni Roy, went on floors on Saturday. Gold also features Kunal Kapoor and Amit Sadh in key roles, and is scheduled to release on Independence Day next year.

The film will bring to celluloid the story of independent India’s first Olympic gold win.

Here’s what you need to know before you see Gold on the big screen:

1. The Indian men’s hockey team won the country’s first Olympic medal as a free nation in 1948 at the 14th London Olympiad.

2. The London Olympics was the first Olympics held post World War II. It was held after a gap of 12 years, with the previous one being the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

3. The India team that played in the London Olympics was a brand new one, with all the great players from the earlier gold-winning team, including top goal scorer Dhyan Chand, having retired.

4. The captain of the new team was Kishen Lal, with KD Singh (Babu) being the vice-captain. This was the first time when India marched holding the tricolour, as a free nation, in the opening ceremony at the Wembley Stadium.

5. India played its first match against Austria. The Indian team beat the Austrian team hollow, with the scorecard reading 8-0. They went on to defeat Argentina 9-1. India was victorious against Spain in the quarterfinal (2-0) and against Holland in the semi-final (2-1). The final match was played against Britain.

6. Indians took on their former rulers and won in style, defeating the British 4-0.

7. This was the fourth consecutive gold medal for India in the sport, and its first as an independent nation.

8. After the Indian team’s victory, free India’s first High Commissioner to England, VK Krishna Menon, gave the players an official reception at India House. The team was also sent on a fortnight-long goodwill tour of Europe, where they visited France, Czechoslovakia and Switzerland.

9. Incidentally, Pakistan was also contesting as a free nation for the first time, and there were strong chances of an India-Pakistan final. However, Britain defeated Pakistan in the semi-final and went on to play India in the final match.

10. When the victorious team returned to the country, they received a grand welcome. The victory celebrations went on for days and came to an end in Delhi, where Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President Rajendra Prasad attended the winning team’s exhibition match at the National Stadium.

ALSO SEE: Akshay Kumar shares his look in Gold

ALSO READ: Akshay Kumar and Talaash director Reema Kagti team up for sports drama Gold

ALSO WATCH: Akshay Kumar wins National Award – How the actor became Sabse Bada Khiladi

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