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Will 'non-words' dictate how we communicate in the future?
Something earth shattering has gone by unnoticed, at least by me. At the end of each year the Oxford Dictionary announces the 'Word of the Year'. It usually is a word which has just entered the dictionary for the first time.

For instance, Google is the name of a far out hi-tech company, but in the public mind it is enshrined as a 'search activity'. 'Just google and find out.' is a sentence used hundreds of times daily. Due to its very common usage, it entered the Oxford Dictionary in 2006. 

Words in dictionaries are a combination of alphabets. But what I find as a significant game changer is the fact that in 2015, the Oxford Dictionary added a 'non-word', an emoji as the 'Word of the Year'! That exalted distinction goes to 'Face with Tears of Joy' emoji. (See inset). The august dictionary obliges us with an explanation: 'There were other strong contenders from a range of fields. But 'Face with Tears of Joy' was chosen as the 'word', that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015. It was the most used emoji in 2015.

All writers, bards and pen pushers of varied plumage should take this up as a battle cry. For if they have to carry on with their vocations, then they had better learn to cope in future with graphic communication. Kalidas and Shakespeares of the future may have to wield the brush and not the pen! I wonder how Kalidas would have described the forsaken lovelorn Shakuntala pining in the ashram, only with emojis!

My mind flashes back to so many disjointed thoughts on the modes of present day human communication: 

First, there was just one standard graphic, the lovable 'Smiley', a cherubic face with a broad smile, the very sight of which made you feel elated. It invariably upped your mood. Then the inventive Japanese flooded us with emoticons. I had hardly learnt to cope with emoticons, when the unrelenting Japanese jumped in with their new invention, the emojis – of which I see no end. And, I am not amused! 

Already with the dawn of SMS, the youngsters dispensed with grammar and spellings. 'D movie soooo awesome! Gr8 going, yaar. Mooah, mooah!'

I thought that it was only a matter of time before novels in SMS format would appear. It happened sooner than I had thought. Not to be left behind, Harper Collins published Pinki Virani's 'Deaf Heaven', a novel in 90 SMSes, formatted to be read only on cell phones. Progress, thy name is digital brevity! 

Even before SMSes settled down, Twitter arrived with its 140 characters. Governments have given up announcing long winded important state policies. Now the name of the game is Twitter. Trump tweets. Putin tweets. So do Modi and Hillary Clinton. Amitabh Bachchan tweets. If you matter and regard yourself as a person of substance, then don't miss the bus. Start tweeting! Otherwise, like me you will suffer from endless digital guilt! 

Earlier the birds used to be chirpy. They tweeted! Birdwatchers used to look out for them, and their playful birdsong. No longer! If you are fond of tweets of the featherless kind, Trump and Modi are too ready to oblige!

'When Winter comes, can Spring be far behind', wrote Shelly. Similarly, I thought if there are SMS novels, can Twitter novels be far behind. True enough Mahabharatha, the world's longest poem and epic of 18 chapters and over 1 lakh verses, has been audaciously retold by Devdutt Pattnaik in 36 tweets. That is the digital ignominy our Mahakavya has suffered! 

Parallel to Twitter, the most common mode of everyday personal or group chatter, is the WhatsApp. And this is where the impish emojis dominate the scene. There is an increasing large compendium to choose from. They bewilder me, while the youngsters revel in their use!

After I have laboriously typed out a long detailed message, as persons in my age group are wont to do, all I get in response is - an emoji Namaste, a clapping hand and a bouquet of flowers! A phone call could have been more heart warming!

Let us ponder about the future of writing: Fewer words, if any, and more emojis and its future variants? No adjectives, no verbs, no inspirational poetry! 

Does the future belong to the 'non-word'?

This will take us back to our ancestral cave men, who narrated their daily activities and concerns, with line drawings on the cave walls!

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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