Creative Brand Communications


May 19, 2015

UK’s fastest growing language is… emoji.

LONDON, Tuesday 19th May 2015: Three people dressed as emoji characters tour London today, as a new study by TalkTalk Mobile to mark the launch of Britain’s lowest priced unlimited mobile SIM, reveals that emoji is being adopted at a faster rate than any other language in history, with 8 in 10 British people now using the colourful symbols to communicate.

[Images free for editorial use available here]


The ‘Emoji IQ’ study is the first piece of in-depth research on UK adoption of the visual language taking the world by storm.


The survey of 2,000 Brits reveals that emoji has well and truly taken off in the UK, with 62% claiming they are using the new language more than they were a year ago and 4 in 10 claiming to have sent messages made up ENTIRELY of emoji.


It reveals that 72% of the younger generation (18-25) find it easier to express their emotions with the pictorial symbols than words, with over half (51%) believing emoji have improved our ability to interact. A quarter of Brits (29%) are using emoji in at least half of all text, instant messaging and social media communications they send.


But not everyone is enthusiastic. Over half (54%) of over 40s admit to having been confused about what the symbols mean, with  31% claiming to have avoided using emoji in text, instant messaging and social media apps like Facebook because they lacked the confidence to use them appropriately.

TalkTalk Mobile has teamed up with Vyv Evans, linguistics professor at Bangor University, to launch the study and improve understanding of emoji with the ‘Emoji IQ’ tutorial.

Three people dressed as ‘emojis’ launched the study which was published to mark the arrival of Britain’s lowest priced unlimited SIM, from TalkTalk.

Professor Evans comments: “Emoji is the fastest growing form of language ever based on its incredible adoption rate and speed of evolution.

“As a visual language emoji has already far eclipsed hieroglyphics, its ancient Egyptian precursor which took centuries to develop.”

Director of TalkTalk Mobile Dan Meader comments: “The explosion of social networks and messaging apps on our smartphones means that emoji are fast becoming the most popular way to quickly express how we’re feeling.”

Brits’ Top Ten most popular emoji:

  1. Smiley Face (62%)
  2. Crying with laughter (36%)
  3. Love heart (29%)
  4. Beaming red cheeks (26%)
  5. Thumbs up (25%)
  6. Tongue out (22%)
  7. Blow kiss (20%)
  8. Wink face (20%)
  9. Confused (19%)
  10. See no evil monkey (13%)

Top five most baffling emoji : Reception Girl (1); Hallelujah Hands (2); Shifty Eyes (3); Dancing Girl (4); and Unamused Face (5).

Professor Evans comments further:  “Given the utility and added value provided by emoji, their usage is expected to increase exponentially across all age and cultural groups.  While the uptake will differ by specific type of communication and function, it is not inconceivable that the majority of digital communication will feature emoji in future.

“Unlike natural languages such as English, emoji is almost universally recognisable because it exploits the visual representation system. Emoji won’t replace traditional languages but it will increasingly be used to enhance them.

“I think it’s conceivable that emoji will increasingly be used to complement digital versions of written works.  For instance, the inclusion of emoji to help convey meaning in abridged versions of Shakespeare could help bring those great stories to life for a whole new generation.”

Find out your emoji IQ by the online test

TalkTalk’s Emoji IQ tutorial featuring linguistics professor Vyv Evans can be seen here on YouTube.


10 emoji facts:

  1. The first emoji was created in 1999 bya team working on Japanese mobile phone provider i-mode’s messaging features.
  2. Originally meaning‘pictograph’, the word emoji literally means ‘picture’ (e) and ‘character’ (moji).
  3. There are 722 different emoji characters currently available in the standard Unicode set shared by most platforms.
  4. There is a governing body for emoji called the Unicode Consortium that includes Apple, Google, Adobe, IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo.
  5. The word ’emoji’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013.
  6. Racially diverse emoji were introduced by Apple in April 2015 as part of an iOS update.
  7. In April 2015, Andy Murray posted a wedding day tweet which described the day in emoji.
  8. Last week Domino’s Pizza revealed they would let customers order pizza by tweeting the ‘Pizza’ emoji.
  9. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop conducted an interview with Buzzfeed in February 2015 answering questions almost entirely in Emoji.
  10. There will two billion smartphone users worldwide by 2016 according to eMarketer; 41.5 billion messages and 6 billion emoticons are sent daily according to Swyft Media, a London based company that makes emojis for brands.

Press Contact: Taylor Herring +44 208 206 5151


Latest Articles