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  • Writer's pictureTal Braiman

🏛 or 🏰 ? Emoji Perception.

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

Throughout the process of creating Literally Zero Words, I had a unique problem: deciding which emoji represents different regions. Since the website has zero words or traditional language, my mission is to communicate solely through the use of emojis.

I decided to use research through questionnaires and polls to determine which emoji can communicate the desired region best.

Countries are very simple, since each country is represented by a flag, and the Emoji Unicode includes the flag for most modern nations. Regions within countries, and continents require less direct symbols, since emojis and flags might not exist.

I will share an example of a fascinating discovery through my research. I've settled on two emojis to represent the European Continent. I decided not to use the European Flag (🇪🇺) for two reasons. Many of the countries in Literally Zero Words are not part of the European Union, and there are no comparable flags that might represent other continents such as Asia.

I asked this simple question across dozens of Facebook Groups:

Here's a few of the answers

Through these groups I that I realized is that when presented with the first emoji (officially titled: Classical Building) Americans think of a courthouse, library, or the White House. The second emoji (officially titled: European Castle) did represent Europe for most Americans.

Europeans think of Greece or Rome when presented with the first, since the architecture is rooted in Neoclassical Architecture. Europeans think of Central Europe when seeing the second emoji.

It fascinates me how people from different regions perceive emojis differently. I initially though of Emojis as a universally understandable medium of communication that can break through linguistic barriers, and while I do still believe this, I now realize that our understanding and perception of emojis can be influenced on our upbringing and environment.


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