ESSAY Emojis: The New Language of Love


I wrote an essay about Emojis for Imperica

Read the whole article here, extract below.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperateWilliam Shakespeare, extract from Sonnet 18, written between 1593 and 1601

It’s so hot outside! I love the summertime. How are you? au-al-0900-1001-roisin1
Roisin Dunnett, text, June 2016

It’s impossible to guess where Shakespeare was when he rhetorically suggested to an unknown person that he might compare them to a summer’s day. I remember where I was when I wrote that facile text though. I was in my back garden with my feet up on the fence, and it was, truly, so hot outside. It was a happy moment because I do love the summertime, and because I was thinking of the person to whom I sent the text.

I did not write them a sonnet, although I suppose I could have. I chose a more common contemporary form, the text message. Rather than submit to the constraints of fourteen lines in pentameter, I chose to express my feelings within a different set of limitations: 870 picture characters, many of which have meanings specific to a culture which is not my own: emojis1. I will not de-construct the lines from sonnet 18, which are only incidentally included here. But I can, as the author, decode for you my text message. First we have the obvious, as written, with emojis to illustrate it: I’m hot and I love the summer- heart emoji for love, the sun for summer time. The effusive use of both icons illustrates my enthusiasm. Then we have the implicit meaning, in the context of which the emojis mean something slightly different: Being outside in this sunshine that I enjoy is making me think of you- I wonder how you are? Multiple yellow heart and sun emojis are arranged to indicate happiness, warmth, to bring pleasure to the reader/viewer, who I am also asking about.

Then we have the third meaning, hidden under the courtly layers of the first two: I love the summertime. It makes me think of you, who I also love. Here are six yellow hearts worth of love, interspersed with the smiling symbol of this summer, when I fell for you. I love you I love you I love you, it’s summer it’s summer it’s summer, I love you I love you I love you.



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