In a linguistic first, the most popular word of 2014 isn’t a word at all, it turns out, but rather the heart emoji – illustrating the ways in which mobile icons have increasingly infiltrated our means of communication.
This conclusion comes care of Global Language Monitor (GLM), an Austin, Texas-based language analysis firm, which scoured blogs, Twitter, Facebook and 250,000 global news outlets to determine the year’s most popular words.
While GLM has conducted its study annually for 15 years, this is the first time that an emoji has taken the cake. They found that the heart emoji appears billions of times per day across the globe, reports Mail Online.
“The English Language is now undergoing a remarkable transformation unlike any in its 1,400 year history,” said Paul Payack, president of GLM, in a statement. “Its system of writing, the alphabet, is gaining characters at amazing rate.”
Today, there are 722 emojis in existence, with an additional 250 to be made available over the course of the next year. Emojis are regulated by the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit organization that governs the representation of text in software products.
In terms of popularity, the heart emoji was followed by ‘hashtag’ and then ‘vape’ – which was also named Oxford Dictionaries’ 2014 Word of the Year. The list was rounded out by ‘blood moon,’ ‘nano,’ ‘photobomb,’ ‘caliphate,’ ‘white privilege,’ ‘bae’ and ‘bash tag.’
Last year’s winner for most popular word was similarly bizarre. The honor was claimed by ‘404,’ one of the most common error messages found on the web.
In addition to words, GLM also awarded the most popular name in 2014, ‘Ebola,’ as well as the year’s most popular phrase, ‘Hands up, don’t shoot,’ as chanted by protesters in Ferguson, MO.