Software developers SwiftKey analyzed over one billion emoji from around the world. Here’s what they’ve learned.
image via (cc) flickr user theusfalco
As emoji usage becomes more and more common around the world (a fact echoed by Apple’s better-late-than-never decision to diversify their emoji catalog) analysts have begun to observe an interesting, but probably not entirely unexpected, corollary effect—the emergence of emoji “accents,” distinct patterns of regional usage of the same base set of characters available to texters worldwide.
Investigating this phenomenon, this week British software developer SwiftKey published an extensive report, detailing how speakers of 16 different languages from different regions around the world use emojis. The study, SwiftKey explains, “analyzed more than one billion pieces of emoji data across a wide range of categories” in order to break down global differences in this new, and continually developing, form of abbreviated online communication.
Per the report:
Canadians score highest in emoji categories some may consider to be more American (money, raunchy, violent, sports)
French use four times as many heart emoji than other languages, and it’s the only language for which a ‘smiley’ is not number one
Flowers and plants emoji are used at more than four times the average rate by Arabic speakers
Russian speakers use three times as much romantic emoji than the average
Australia’s emoji use characterizes it as the land of vice & indulgence, using double the average amount of alcohol-themed emoji, 65 percent more drug emoji than average and leading forboth junk food and holiday emoji
Americans lead for a random assortment of emoji & categories, including skulls, birthdaycake, fire, tech, LGBT, meat and female-oriented emoji
image via (cc) flickr user throwboy
Lest you think Americans, with our (not entirely undeserved) reputation for vulgarity, have the market cornered on the most recognizably crass emoji—a smiling pile of actual shit—it’s actually the Canadians, our relatively unassuming neighbors to the North who, according to the study, are the global leaders of texting poop.
The full, 18-page report is available here. In it you’ll find analysis on the diversity of emoji use, how different regions use emoji to express particular sentiments, and a drilldown through the various emoji “catagories” used in the study.
Despite the ubiquity of emoji across nearly all forms of digital communication, SwiftKey’s report is still (mostly) composed of regular old letters. When it come to emoji, evidently, a picture is still worth a thousand words.