FROM a thumbs up to a little smiley face, emojis have become part of the way in which the world communicates. Now new emojis are set to be introduced to broaden their diversity, including a pregnant man, a pregnant person and a ‘person with crown’.


The emoji is pretty old already?

The emoji, in a way, dates to 1969, when the New York Times reported the words of Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov: “I often think there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile — some sort of concave mark, a supine round bracket, which I would now like to trace in reply to your question.”


After that?

US computer scientist Scott Fahlman, now 73, is credited with originating the first smiley emoticon in 1982 which he created to help people on a message board at his Pennsylvania university distinguish serious posts from jokes.



On Facebook messenger alone, more than 5 billion emojis are sent every day, with estimated that more than 10 billion are sent on text messages daily.


And it’s no longer just a simple smiley face?

There are around 100 of the traditional little yellow faces to express various emotions, from an eye roll to being sick and there is even a ‘face mask’ emoji you may have used yourself during the pandemic, featuring a little yellow face with a white mask.


As for the rest?

There are hundreds, from various hand gestures, to food and drink items, animals, sports and world flags. Take your pick from a long list of possibilities.


So what’s happening now?

New draft emojis have been proposed by the emoticons' oversight body, the California-based Unicode Consortium, that are designed to boost the gender-inclusivity of emojis. The organisation's proposals would essentially mean that gender-neutral versions of almost every emoji would be available for use, including a 'pregnant man' and a 'pregnant person’, as well as a ‘person with crown’, rather than just ’prince’ or ‘princess’.


What else?

The finalist list includes 15 different handshake combinations with varying skin tones, as well as other faces, including ‘peeking eye’, ‘holding back tears’, ‘saluting’, and a smiley melting. The other new icons likely to feature include nests, biting lips, beans, a glass of water spilling, a playground slide, an X-ray, a crutch and an empty battery. Coral is also likely to appear, with Emojipedia saying it is “commonly used as an icon to discuss climate change, given the impact of rising global temperatures on coral reefs”.


What is the overall aim?

Emojipedia, the emoji reference website and a voting member of the consortium - which will formally approve which emojis hit operating systems next year - said the new pregnant man emoji, for example, recognises "that pregnancy is possible for some transgender men and non-binary people”. An Emojipedia spokesperson said: “The above additions will mean that nearly all emojis can have default a gender neutral option, with choice to use a woman or man where relevant. A few exceptions remain, which are being reviewed.”