I spotted the observation around the time of the millennium. A pundit wrote that communication is becoming less dependent on language. More communication was observed via the use of pictographs, or hieroglyphics. These days, the emoji is as ubiquitous as its population is increasing. A check of my phone (an Apple) showed 91 emoji* variations on the smiley face. And yet, how often will I find this wealth of choice still doesn’t quite match what I’m trying to express.
At the receiving end, an emoji still needs to be “read” – decoded, processed, made some sense of. In the best use, an original smiley face easily expresses the thought with ease. The average all-thumbs user would need much more time to spell out the equivalent word or words – once they decided on which to use.
As the universe of emoji is ever expanding, another form of individualized language expression is disappearing – writing in cursive. I’m amused when I come across a piece of my early handwriting. The effort to conform to the Palmer Method , or thereabouts, made my capital T appear as a kind of ice scrapper, the capital W starting with a roll, then down-up down-up and then a fling of ink in a northeast direction.
Keeping the cursive word as a contiguous stream of ink was as important as it was insanely impossible to achieve. I knew I was in the company of an advanced person when I spotted one of my older sisters’ cursive adaptation – ink breaks between syllables. That was so smart!
Every old school teacher will attest to the fact that no two handwritings are exactly alike. Much to their chagrin. This charming inefficiency of our nature is reflected in one tool of the machine version of handwriting – the font. I have my few favorites (Maiandra GD is one). But who has ever typed even one three sentence paragraph in Haettenschweil, or its next door neighbor, Harlow Solid Italic? Could be fun to try – as long as no one needs to read it.
Modern typing options give the writer much more freedom of self expression. Still, he or she needs to use a few of the standard suggestions to render the writing into readable chunks of script. Who among us has not received content from the writer whose style guide is the equivalent of the last five pages of James Joyce’s Ulysses. That is, the wall of words. I understand the urgent need to get the words out of the brain and onto the page. It’s just that the written word shouldn’t be wallpaper. The paragraph exists! Even if for some of us, it still needs to be discovered.
Speaking of words (To pun, or not to pun…) – In a publishing decision, I needed to choose between a serif’d font or a non-serif’d font for the text of the book. The vast majority of writers select a traditional serif’d font for the text. Then, an “anything goes” approach to font selection is allowed for the ornamental writing such as chapters, or the first four words of a chapter, or both.
With e-readers, one has the option to choose the font in which they wish to read. So if your eye and mind prefer to have the words composed of letters with little doo-hickies at the ends, you got it. Or not.
I’ve enjoyed my volunteer opportunity to keep the GLA News Blog stocked with fresh content. My thanks to Marquita Gooch, Amber Spratlin, and Sofia Slutskaya (lots!) for their help.
May the true, verifiable news be yours.
Comments or questions ? My email address is email@example.com .
* In prep for this article, I discovered the word emoji functions both for singular and plural – for now.
Smiley emoji from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smiley
Word Art from https://wordart.com/