Edited and prepared by Oscar Michel, Masters in Journalism, DCU

Great guest post by Cosette Jarrett, Cosette is a technology writer and content consultant from Salt Lake City, UT. She enjoys writing on topics surrounding connectivity, artificial intelligence, and consumer technology. Cosette spends her time outside of writing hiking, biking, and snowboarding in Utah’s beautiful backyard.?

Emojis have officially been accepted as a form of communication in various cultures across the globe. Although many of us assume our emoji messages are being interpreted correctly, a new report by HighSpeedInternet.com (HSI) could prove otherwise.

The team of analysts at HSI distributed a survey to participants from nine English-speaking countries around the world. The goal of this study was to find out how different cultures perceive some of the most popular and confusing emojis, even when they speak the same language. The report of their findings shows that just because two people share a language, doesn’t mean they share the same understanding of emojis.

To kick things off, we’ll start with the first data set that shows each of the nine countries’ second most-used emojis. The team omitted the first result for each country (the standard smiley face) to highlight the diversity among cultures in the second most-used emojis. You can check it out on the map above but, as you can see, the Irish are definitely using a unique emoji to express themselves in text messages.

The next data set the team compiled shows a breakdown of what different emojis mean to each country. Ireland certainly wasn’t embarrassed to show that emoji use in the nation can be a bit crass at times. The country reported using the eggplant most frequently to describe a “sexual reference” and the peach emoji to reference a booty or a bum. The analysts also learned that in Ireland, as well as in the other eight countries surveyed, it’s alright to send the kissing winking face to friends and family members. Public sentiment over all agrees that this emoji is best used to express love in a platonic way.

After taking a look at combined data for all nine countries, the analysts also identified some interesting trends in emoji perception among age groups. As it turns out, participants ages 18 to 24 were more likely to use emojis like the eggplant and the water spray as sexual references. Participants ages 25 to 44 were more likely to use the “hugging face” emoji correctly, and the majority of those surveyed over the age of 25 used the peach emoji to describe the actual fruit rather than a booty or bum.

There were several emojis that stood out in the report as having particularly conflicting meanings. These included “hugging face,” “neutral face,” “folded hands, “savoring delicious food”, and “peach.” All of the nine countries surveyed thought that the folded hands emoji meant “praying” when it actually means “thank you” according to Emojipedia. The “savouring delicious food” emoji also drew some confusion among participants who couldn’t decide if it means “silly,” “yum,” or “joking.” The Emojipedia description for this emoji might offer up an explanation for this confusion. While the name indicates that “yum” would be the right answer, the official description suggests that those who said it means “silly” were correct as well.

Finally, we get to the important issue of finding out who uses the most emojis. As it turns out, the United States and Trinidad are going crazy over emojis in their text messages, while the remaining seven countries (including Ireland) are using them more sparingly. All countries with the exception of the U.S. and Trinidad reported using emojis in fewer than 25% of text messages.

Although emojis seem like the perfect way to express how you feel without using words, countries like Ireland who are using them less frequently might just be onto something. They’re certainly a fun way to add some color to your messages, but if you’re not careful about the emojis you use and their surrounding context, you could be sending some mixed messages!


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