June 6, 2019

Are Emojis the 21st Century Version of Hieroglyphics?

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

As Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine, I’ve got to admit that words fascinate me. Not just the combination, but the tone and voice of whatever you are trying to convey to a reader. 

A summer show, Blood and Treasure recently aired on CBS, and the pilot was about the secret tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony before it spun into another direction. Very Indiana Jones like. So, of course, I was hooked. The second show they had to break a code of symbols tied to an ancient language. It occurred to me that throughout time the written word via symbols has evolved into and come full circle to the emojis and acronyms for words found in our written texts of today. Anybody with me on this?

My curiosity led me to google the topic. I ran across a free course from OpenLearn 
on the subject. The course description states, “A brief history of communication: hieroglyphics to emojis, is an introduction to the history of writing and the key role it plays in human communication. Nowadays, it is difficult to think of language as existing without writing, but in the long history of humankind’s ability to use language it is only relatively recently that writing emerged. The course also looks as the vital relationship between technology and writing, and how the development of new technologies alter the way we communicate.” Doesn’t that sound interesting?

The course content includes these subjects, “1 Language and everyday technologies• 2 A brief history of writing• 3 Communicating in symbols and pictures• 3.1 Textspeak and language change• 3.2 Picture-based writing• 4 The birth of writing• 4.1 Broadening the reach of language• 4.2 Different types of meaning-making• 4.3 From alphabet to emojis• 5 The universality of body language• 6 Emojis as a supplement to written language. • 7 Designing emojis.”

According to the website the “Learning outcomes-After studying this course, you should be able to: • understand how different writing systems have developed over time • understand how technology influences what we can do with language, and the form that language takes.”

I was easily able to download this course for free onto my Kindle to read at my leisure. I feel there may be a number of free courses of interest at this source helpful to writers at all levels. 

I’m hoping this course will answer my question, Are Emojis the 21st Century Version of Hieroglyphics? 

Has anyone else tried free courses from OpenLearn at The Open University?

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