Emoji Texting and Other Plot Twists

Emoji are a source of humor in my Other Worldly series because of Rowan Layne’s octogenarian mom’s enthusiastic use of them while phone texting.

In Alienable Rights, Rowan is even accused of sending secret coded messages to aliens via strings of emoji while texting with her mother.

Emoji is defined as a small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, or, when it comes to Rowan’s mom, a plethora of things. A passion for shopping, shoes, and shopping for shoes. A dislike of cloudy weather. The kissy face emoji for those she loves.

Before emoji came emoticons, such as the yellow smiley face and other facial expressions. But in 2015, Oxford Dictionaries declared emoji to be the word of the year, their use having gained popularity in the 2010s.

These little pictures that make texting more colorful and fun were created in 1998 by Shigetaka Kurita, an engineer at a Japanese phone company. He sought an iconic method for customers to communicate; the result was 176 icons he called emoji.

The name combines two Japanese words, “e” meaning picture and “moji” meaning character. Hence, it is not pluralized with an “s” at the end like English words are.

Kurita drew inspiration from manga, Chinese characters, and international signs for bathrooms. Now, there are more than 1,800 emoji. One of the newest must surely be the round face—wearing a COVID mask.

The pile of poop emoji, likely not derived from any international sign for a bathroom, has googly eyes, much to Rowan Layne’s trepidation. She feels spied on enough as it is.

Useful for novels involving aliens and outer space, there are more than a dozen moon emoji, with almost as many clouds and hearts, which Rowan’s mom uses often.

There’s a rocket ship emoji, a flying saucer, and a red meteorite. Plus a shooting star and a spiraling galaxy with stars.

My favs continue to be the classic green alien head, the Hook ‘em Horns hand gesture, and the face with stars for eyes. Oh and of course the ram for my zodiac sign Aries.

I recently discovered a whiskey glass emoji, along with sheep, used in Being Alien, upcoming fourth book in the Other Worldly series, set in Scotland. Sheep are both an emoji and a creature that sometimes block roads outside of Inverness.

There’s lots of animal emoji, including a dog and a cat that look a great deal like my Bodie and Morris, characters in my novels as well.

Fictitious critters feature in emoji, too. Unicorns—quite popular in Scottish lore and symbolism, as well as mermaids. But no Luna moth. Bummer.

Who makes decisions about creation of new emoji? And why did they place the unicorn next to the horse and zebra emoji as if it were an actual animal? What’s up with that?

And the food emoji, especially fruits and vegetables, are the best! Not just the obvious, but a mango! Plus eggplant, yam, coconut, avocado—even kiwi.  A chocolate-covered hazelnut, a croissant, and a Chinese fortune cookie.

Rice bowls and sushi are not surprising, but bacon, eggs, pancakes, plus flan or crème de caramel? A pretzel, taco, and a plate of spaghetti. But why on earth is there an emoji of canned tomatoes?

The champagne bottle with a popping cork is excellent to use for celebrations, and congratulations. And there’s a glass of red wine, and a fruity cocktail complete with umbrella.

It’s curious how they select colors of certain emoji items. Why an alien-green ball of yarn? And who decided on a purple polka-dot bikini? Rowan’s mom would surely prefer the shoe emoji to be black, not tacky pink or red. Along with all clothing emoji, especially the scarf.

Sports are well-represented in emoji, but curiously, there is no emoji with golf club or ball for Rowan Layne’s golf-enamored dad, sister and brother-in-law. Merely a putting green with a red flag. Yet there’s an eight ball and even a ping pong ball. Go figure.

And an erupting volcano. I haven’t used that one yet, but I suppose it would be excellent to represent an exploding temper or rage at the outrageous things humans do.

Not to mention the tornado emoji, which Rowan Layne would see as a dust devil. You’ll know why in book two, Feeling Alienated. Best not to use the green alien head emoji in association with that one. You never know who might be watching.

1 thought on “Emoji Texting and Other Plot Twists”

  1. This may just be my favorite because it’s so funny. You nail the emoji conversation! And, thanks for teaching me there is no plural:)

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