英語でニッポンをフカボリ! DID YOU KNOW…?『絵文字』


まずはKey Words & Phrasesから。


emoji / emoticon(絵文字)
digital image(デジタル画像)
electronic communication(電子通信)
telecom / telecommunication(テレコム・遠距離通信)
pager / beeper(ポケットベル《小型の無線受信端末》)
ASCII art / text based art(アスキーアート《文字の組み合わせで表現した絵》)


capable of (~できる・~の能力がある)
head developer (開発責任者)
aware of (~を知っている・~を承知している)
now that(今や~であるから)
safe to say(~と言って過言ではない)
derive from(~から派生する) 
Mayan script(マヤ文字)
punctuation symbol(句読点記号)


Did you know the first emoji was invented in Japan?

・Emoji, a small digital image or symbol used in web pages and digital messages was born in Japan in the late 1990s.
・The first emoji was created by a member of the largest telecom company as a function of their then-current product, an internet-capable mobile phone.
・Before mobile phones became a necessity, a beeper was the most popular way to contact someone in Japan. Some of the beepers were capable of displaying icons and the heart icon gained great popularity among the users.
・It is said that the head developer of emoji was aware of the importance and effectiveness of communication using an icon through his experience of a beeper.
・Now that emoji is regularly used across electronic communication, it is safe to say that they are a shared way of communicating across the globe.

3 Questions for Digging Deeper! 《 もっと掘り下げてみよう! 》

1. What does “emoji” mean in the first place?

Deriving from the Japanese word “e” and “moji”, the word emoji originally means pictograph such as the Mayan script. Incidentally, “e” means picture and “moji” means character or letter in Japanese.

2. Why did emoji become so popular in Japan?

The biggest reason must be that emoji are convenient to express emotions and feelings in communications, which is often difficult to convey in text/words. In addition to that, as emoticons are considered ideograms, the Japanese adapted emoji quickly due to the similar nature of the Japanese language.

3. What’s the difference between emoji and kaomoji?

Kaomoji means “face” and “character”, and it is also one of the emoticons. Unlike emoji, kaomoji is a kind of ASCII art created using Japanese characters, alphabetical letters and punctuation symbols. Kaomoji has many styles, but most of them look like human faces. That’s why they are called kaomoji.



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